Saturday, August 31, 2019

Well Done!!

“Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21

It must be wonderful to hear God say that to us, at the end of our journey here on earth. After graduating from University, many people congratulate us, more so if we get high grades and did well in school. For my dad, grades were not really important. We were never scared to show him our report card and I know that when my brother Robert presented his, full of red marks, my dad didn’t get mad at all! 

My dad was more concerned about how we lived our life, and how we used our gifts and talents. He was very happy when we made things, and used our creativity, just like him. Daddy was an engineer, and even during the war, he made his own toys from tin cans and rubber tires. He was a handyman around the house. Growing up, I appreciated how everything in our home was in good working order, the plumbing, carpentry and the electricity. He would even make our furniture. In our business, he always had so many ideas, and we were always encouraged to have our own ideas, and to make them. No one had to approve anything! Even if the idea was absurd, it would find its way to the store. When my youngest sister Tina sculpted a tiny tiny dog with a wheelbarrow, we put it on a wood plaque with a sign: “Caution: working dog!” It sold! 

God is our Father and He is very pleased when we make use of the gifts, talents and resources He has gifted us with. Like my daddy, I believe God does not expect us to have excellent ideas and projects every time. But He is happy when we try our best to use it for good. 

Friday, August 30, 2019

En Theos

And the foolish said to the prudent, "Give us some of your oil for our lamps are going out." Matthew 25:8

In the Parable of the Virgins, there are 5 foolish bridesmaids and 5 wise ones. They are all waiting to welcome the groom who is very likely arriving with the Bride after fetching her from her parents' home. The wedding party is very delayed and the bridesmaids get sleepy. Picture it- 10 beautifully dressed and made up ladies, waiting outside in anticipation of the wedding party. At first they are excited, talking to each other animatedly, but as time goes tic ticking by with no sign of the Bride and Groom, they sit down and sink into sleepiness.

Alas! When the warning shout comes that the wedding party is near, the foolish bridesmaids find out their lamps are sputtering! They ask the wise ones for some but they say there will not be enough for all! So the foolish ones leave to buy oil and we know what happens! After all that preparation and waiting, they are not let into the wedding feast! "I do not know you!" the Bridegroom says.

What is that all important oil that keeps our lamps burning? Is it the Holy Spirit? Is it the Word of God that is a lamp to our feet? Is it prayer? I think it is everything that keeps us close to God and in fellowship with Him. We should not allow the fire we have within us to die. We should keep ‘en theos', God within.

Because if it dies, if it is not tended, we cannot beg, borrow or steal this oil, as the Bridesmaids found out to their peril!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Raise Up Heroes, Lord!

John the Baptist said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Mark 6:18

Today is the Feast Day of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist, a fitting day to ask God to raise up heroes in our country. Let us pray that He would embolden and enlighten ordinary men and women like us who would be unafraid to speak His truth and bring His light into the world. Here is the first reading for today, Jeremiah 1:17-19: "For it is I this day who have made you a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass, against the whole land:...They will fight against you, but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord." 

The Gospel in Mark is about John the Baptist and how he was unafraid to speak the truth even when Herod was a powerful man and a despot who liked to get his own way. Herod was brash and liked to show off, promising the young daughter of his mistress Herodias that she could ask anything from him after a dance that pleased him. After a consult with her mother, she asked for the head of John the Baptist. John was beheaded. 

Did that silence John the Baptist? Many would say yes. But I believe he lived on in the consciences of many, including Herod himself, who I am sure, was haunted by the voice and the words of the man. In Mark 6:16, Herod thought John had come back from the dead in the person of Jesus Christ! And he was not the only one. Many said of Jesus: "This must be John the Baptist come back to life again!"

The truth will prevail and the truth will not die. Let us pray for heroes. Each one of us must be a hero. We have a calling to be prophets for our time. In Esther 4:14, the Queen Esther was called to task by her uncle Mordecai. "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

WOYWW: A Thousand Years

I always fall back on collage if I don’t have too much time to paint. 

“A thousand years in your sight are as yesterday...” Psalm 90:4

When we are young, time seems endless. Now that I am older, it seems the years pass so quickly. To God, our sojourn here on earth is like the blink of an eye. So I suppose, he also sees our sorrows and travails as fleeting and necessary for what He wants us to learn. But sometimes we just do not understand and have to repeat the lesson. 

A young Filipino farmer and a Texas rancher were conversing about their land. “See that tree over there? That is how wide my land is. How about yours?” The rancher responded, “If I take my car and drive for hours, I still will not see how wide my land is.” The farmer concluded, “I know what you mean! I had a car like that!” 

When we are older, hopefully we can see more clearly the hand of the Lord, how He has brought us places we never would have reached without Him. Let us not be like the young farmer who has such a narrow outlook, he only understands what he wants to understand. He cannot see beyond his personal experience. Whether we are old or we are young, we should pray, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart!” (Psalm 90:12) 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Clean Inside

“Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.” Matthew 23:26

When my mother was still alive, we went on a pilgrimage to Europe because we found out she had tongue cancer. On the very first day, we waited to have lunch in a Chinese restaurant in Paris. While seated inside, we noticed that the waiters removed the tea cups from a pail, and the insides of the cups were filthy with the tea residue. After discussion, we left, along with many of our tour mates. The dirt inside the tea cups was easy to see. Even the pail was yukky. What an experience in one of the most beautiful cities in the world! 

In contrast, only God can see what is inside us! Jesus saw that the Pharisees were hypocrites, that they were experts in making people feel guilty about small matters of the law, while they themselves neglected what was more important to God, loving our neighbor and putting God first. In Psalm 139, David wrote, “O Lord, You have probed me and You know me...You understand my journeys and my rest you scrutinize, with all my ways You are familiar.” 

Yes, God knows us inside out. We cannot hide from Him. He made us and we are His. We cannot fool Him. Just as He probes us, let us probe ourselves as well, observing what we need to repent of. He loves us in spite of our weakness and sin. He is willing to help us be more than conquerors! 

Monday, August 26, 2019

High Praises

“Let the high praises of God be in their throats!” Psalm 149:6

I am not always successful in waking up with praise and thanksgiving. “Word before the world” is what I put in my “life map” at the beginning of the year, and so I really strive not to turn my phone on at the start of my day. 

There is so much we take for granted, and there is so much to thank God for. Electricity, water, a bed to sleep in, a roof over our heads, family, friends, community, our work, etc. I thank God that I can breathe without an oxygen tank beside me, that I can walk, and talk, and sing.

I was just listening to a woman who escaped from Saudi Arabia. Her own father forced her at 9 years old to marry a man who beat her every time she displeased him. She is now in the US, an activist trying to help trapped women like her, in other countries, even in the States, where the Sharia law is obeyed. Twenty five women from Afghanistan were invited to the US to learn some computer skills. When President Bush came to talk to them, he was so embarrassed because they all fell to the floor to kiss his feet. It was the first time they experienced respect and genuine concern for their welfare. 

Let us never take our blessings for granted! And let us in our little way, where we are, with what we have, share our blessings with others. 

Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Narrow Gate

“Strive to enter through the narrow gate.” Luke 13:24

Jesus answered this when someone asked, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” Apparently even if we eat and drink with Him, if He does not know us, we cannot get in the narrow gate. I suppose it is like people who name drop to establish some kind of connection that is not there. Some people name drop to get an invitation to a party, or get a job, or to be accepted in a clique. That’s not going to work to get into heaven. It’s not enough to know Jesus’ name. He has to know us. 

He is the golden key to unlock heaven’s door. Even if we are a thief hanging on the cross beside Him, if He says we can be with Him in paradise, we will be. Even if we have blood on our hands, He can make us white as snow. Even if we are super rich and it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for us to gain entry to heaven, Jesus said nothing, absolutely nothing is impossible with God (Mt. 19:24-26). 

Lord, I do not deserve heaven. No good works I do can get me through the narrow gate. I am a sinner but You did everything so that I can have my place in paradise, a little house will do! I repent of my sins and I believe that You died on the cross to pay for my sins. I plead with the Holy Spirit to help me to become strong, loving, generous, forgiving, prayerful and kind, and everything else You want me to be. Amen. 

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Just Plant Seeds

“Come and see.” John 1:46

Philip can be our example when we want to introduce Jesus to someone. He did not get discouraged when Nathanael scoffed and said, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Instead, Philip encouraged him, “Come and see.” All we can do is invite. After Philip prodded Nathanael to meet Jesus, Nathanael could not resist the Lord. And Jesus promised Nathanael that he would see greater things! Well now Nathanael, also known as Bartholomew, is a saint and we celebrate his feast day today. 

We too just need to invite, to plant seeds. It will be Jesus and the Holy Spirit who will do the next step. A young man kept inviting his friend who was just obsessed with basketball to attend a prayer meeting. Because he did not give up, his friend finally agreed and went with him. He met Jesus and now he is a great preacher. We will not know where the seeds we plant will end up. We just need to plant. 

Friday, August 23, 2019

Healing Words

“For wherever you go, I will go...” Ruth 1:16

We can say that Naomi received the short end of the stick in the game called life. Her husband died, her two sons died and there was famine in the land. One daughter-in-law left her to return to her own people. But Ruth, her other daughter-in-law, refused to go. “Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you! For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge, I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” Through Ruth, Naomi was blessed. Ruth married Boaz, a kinsman of Naomi, when they returned to Bethlehem. Ruth is one of only five women included in the long genealogy of Jesus. 

We never know how, when or where, our words and actions have far reaching effects on people’s lives. We can choose to support and encourage and be a blessing, or we can curse others with our indifference, put downs, bullying, or thoughtless comments. Sometimes we praise people in our minds, but we don’t say them. We should, so that it can be a seed we plant that can grow in peoples’ hearts and minds. 

One time Victoria Osteen was passing a busy corridor, so many people rushing to and fro. She got an urge to stop and speak to a stranger. She said, “I think you’re beautiful!” and passed on. Years later that woman came by Joel Osteen’s office to tell him that Victoria would never know what that little moment in time meant to her. She had just gotten through a distressing divorce and she was full of self-doubt, shame and recrimination. Her whole life crumbled and she did not know how to make it whole again. When Victoria spoke to her, she felt strongholds were broken, and she felt better about herself. It was the start of her healing. 

Many people look whole on the outside. But there are broken people all around us. Let us intentionally speak healing words every day and plant seeds in God’s beautiful garden. 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

You are Invited!

“Come to the feast.” Matthew 22:4

Last Sunday we had a surprise celebration for my sister Tina at a restaurant she especially wanted to go to. Tina has plenty of friends, the space was small, so we had a difficult time keeping the guest list to just enough that it would not be uncomfortable for the guests. So if one person said they could not come, we would invite someone to take his or her place. Thankfully, the celebration was a success, the guests came, and made Tina very happy. 

In the Gospel for today, the opposite happened. The invited guests refused to come even if they were invited twice and told that the King had prepared a banquet. There were fattened calves, and choice meats awaiting them. The guests ignored the invitation and went about their day to day business. 

In this parable of Jesus, it’s easy to see that the King is God who eagerly invites us to a relationship with Him. Most of us refuse for all sorts of reasons. I was just talking to a friend of mine from the U.K., and she said that God was irrelevant to most of the people there. All around the world, people are refusing God’s invitation. So sad when He “has prepared a table for us, so that our cup overflows, His goodness and love will follow us all the days of our life, and we can dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23)

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Last will be First

"And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last." Matthew 20:16

This phrase can also be found in Matthew 19:30, Luke 13:30, 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, curses, 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! Only God’s generosity gets us in. 

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! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Needle’s Eye

“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." Matthew 19:24

There is an urban legend that this is about a small gate in Jerusalem called the "Needle's Eye" during the time of Jesus. It is so small that if a man on a camel were to pass through, he would have to get down, remove all the baggage from the camel and drag the camel through, kneeling on its haunches. So for a rich man to enter heaven, he would have to divest himself of his earthly goods, and kneel humbly before God. But there is no such gate in Jerusalem in Jesus' time and so Jesus did not mean this.

He literally meant it was impossible for a rich man to get to heaven on his own merit. Wealth was a sign of God's favor in Jesus' time, and even today. So the disciples were astonished, bewildered, exceedingly amazed, dumbfounded, when Jesus flat out said that the wealthy had no chance, zilch, of going to heaven. “So who can be saved?" they asked.

Jesus then says it is impossible for men. It is not only impossible for the rich, but also for the poor. It is impossible for any one. Because we would have to give up not only our wealth, but also our children, our parents, our spouses, our lands, our work. Everything. We would have to put God first. 

But Jesus does not leave us without hope. He said- "With God ALL things are possible." In Ephesians 2:8 we read, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this not of your own doing, it is the GIFT OF GOD!" Whew!!!! 

We shouldn't give up on ourselves just because we can't follow Jesus perfectly! Just because we can't give up everything and go to the ends of the earth and spread the Gospel. Just because we get impatient with little things and are ungrateful or cannot really forgive.  Jesus already paid the price for our salvation.  We just need to follow Him day after day, and we will change slowly but surely.  

Monday, August 19, 2019

Scary Question

“What do I still lack?” Matthew 19:20

What a scary question to ask the Lord. I do not think I am brave enough to ask this question that the rich young man asked Jesus. I know that I lack sooooo much, and need to stay longer at Jesus’ feet to listen to Him. But there is never any condemnation with the Lord. When the young man went away sad, I am sure Jesus was sad with him and for Him. 

I know that because I lack so much, Jesus will say, “I will never leave you nor forsake you, even if you are not perfect, even if there is so much for you to learn, even if you are not strong enough to resist temptation, even if you are not generous enough, kind enough, loving enough to be like me. Let me reassure you that I am committed to you. I sent You my Holy Spirit so that nothing is impossible. I will finish the good work I started in You.” 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

On Fire!

“I have come to set the earth on fire!” Luke 12:49

What was Jesus talking about? He has been gone more than 2000 years and it does not seem as if the earth is burning. It even seems as if more and more people are becoming lukewarm towards God! It appears that there is more evil masquerading as good, and lies being spread as truth. People with twisted values are believed and righteous people are ridiculed! 

This whole world seems to me to be a giant “furnace” meant to refine and test us. Just as the impurities of gold are burned off in the high heat, so too the trials we find ourselves in are meant to remove our dross”, our unkindness, impatience, envy, greed, unforgiveness, etc. As pure gold can reflect the face of the goldsmith, one day Jesus will see His face reflected in us. All this is impossible without the Holy Spirit who is a real Person with us here on earth. We need the fire of His baptism so that we will not be one of the lukewarm bodies walking the earth with no idea about what is of eternal  value and what is “dross”. 

Saturday, August 17, 2019

As For Me

“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

There are many 'kingdoms' here on earth. Politicians try to be kings. Some actors live their lives as if they are untouchable. Some people act as if they will live forever with no mind for tomorrow. Some wealthy people believe they can buy their way out of jail and even buy their way into heaven. 

But in the Kingdom where God is Master, we will be judged not according to what we have accumulated, how much power or popularity or influence we have, but how much we love God and our neighbor. We can build a big house here on earth, with the finest materials, and decorate it like the homes in Architectural Digest, but the Lord may prefer to live in a nipa hut with a loving, generous family. He will for sure enjoy staying in a cramped home filled with happy people serving Him and each other. Whether our house is big or small, in a nice subdivision, or a squatter area, let us make sure that the Lord will want to stay with us! 

Unfailing Love

“... it was not your sword or your bow.” Joshua 24:12

God delivered the Jews from their enemies by engulfing them with darkness and the sea, even hornets. It was not by their own power. The Israelites were given land they did not till, cities to dwell in that they did not build, vineyards and olive groves they did not plant. This was all bestowed on them in spite of their frequent unfaithfulness to God. 

I see myself and my own history with God. He has always been faithful, surrounding me with love and His presence, in spite of my own fickleness. Dear Father, I thank You for Your unfailing love. For finishing the work You have started in me. For not giving up on me. For continuing to bring good into my life. I can never thank you enough! 

Thursday, August 15, 2019


“My soul glorifies the Lord...” Luke 1:46

In the 4th century Latin Vulgate translation, the opening word in this passage is Magnificat, which means “glorifies”. Jesus is still in Mary’s womb, yet already Mary is rejoicing. You can feel her excitement, her anticipation, her eagerness to receive all the good things God has in store for her. 

Like Mary, we too can carry Jesus in our hearts, our minds, in the very depths of our being. We can birth Him in our lives, if we but plant the seeds of His Word daily, by reading and pondering it. The Bible is a book of promises. It is filled with hope. There is nothing better the ancient enemy wants than for us to be deceived into thinking the Bible is irrelevant. 

We are all, whatever our station in life, created to be God’s dwelling place, an “inn” if you will, for the lowly babe who came to set us free. If we just get a glimpse of what an awesome God we serve, and His amazing plan for each one of us, we will leap and shout, and proclaim like Mary, “My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior!” 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

One Man

“Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare what He has done for me.” Psalm 66:16

Today is the Feast Day of  Saint Maximilian Kolbe, who was imprisoned in Auschwitz in February 1941. He and his community had helped to house and feed 3000 Polish refugees, of which 2000 were Jews. He also broadcast illegally on radio and wrote about the atrocities of the Nazis. In Auschwitz, he would give away his meagre rations, pray over the sick and comfort those in need. He was beaten and tortured for his faith, singled out for hard labor until he passed out. 

In July 1941, three prisoners escaped and 10 random men from the same cell were chosen to be starved as punishment. When Franciszek Gajowniczek’s name was called, he cried out, “My wife! My children!” Father Kolbe stepped forward and said: “I am a Catholic priest from Poland; I would like to take his place because he has a wife and children.”

Father Kolbe and the other 9 prisoners were brought to an underground bunker stripped naked. One by one, they starved to death. One witness said that there was never any urine in the slop bucket when he came to clean it, for they drank it all. He would hear them singing and praising God led by the priest. Father Kolbe was one of a few who survived after two weeks. They were all injected with carbolic acid and burned unceremoniously. 

Father Kolbe was beatified on October 1971 and canonized in October 1982. Both times, Gajowniczek was a guest in the Vatican.  This man Saint Maximilian Kolbe gave his life for, declared, “so long as I have breath in my lungs, I would consider it my duty to tell people about the heroic act of love by Maximilian Kolbe."

How about us? One man took our place, and the eternal punishment for our sins. Are we so grateful that we would tell everyone who would listen about the amazing love of Jesus Christ? 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Walk Beside Us, Lord!

“Be brave and steadfast...for it is the Lord, your God, who marches with you; he will never fail you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Moses was 120 years old when he called his people to remind them of God’s faithfulness. They were about to cross the Jordan to take possession of the land God had promised them. He was reminding them that as God had been faithful before, destroying their enemies, God will continue to be a delivering God and will not forsake them. 

When we face challenges and battles, it is good to look back and remember what God has done in the past for us. When we call to Him, He does not fail us. But sometimes, we fail Him. One of my friends told me that her son was asking her why their family was undergoing so much trial and hardship. It was not hard to see why. Even when he was still young, he lived in with a woman who did not have a good character. They now have two children, and one has cerebral palsy. He is always out of work and they are still not married. 

When I talk to him, I tell him to go back to God. Attend a bible believing church if he does not want to be a Catholic like his mom. Find a community to support and encourage him where he can be accountable. It is not enough to pray and pray. We have to learn God’s ways and obey Him. God made us and He knows what is good for us. Like the Jews, we can march towards our Promised Land bravely, if we know that God walks beside us.

Monday, August 12, 2019

He Paid the Price

“Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax. Give that to them for Me and for you.” Matthew 17:27

This story about Jesus and Peter does not appear anywhere else in the Bible, just in Matthew. When Jesus and His disciples reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” Peter quickly answered yes but I have a feeling he did not really know the answer, and just wanted to defend Jesus. The temple tax was collected from Jewish males over 20 years old, for the maintenance of the Temple. This started during the time of Moses when God told him to collect this tax in Exodus 30:13-16. 

When Peter went back to Jesus, Jesus already knew what was in Peter’s mind. He asked, “What is your opinion? From whom do the kings of the earth collect taxes? From their children or other people?” Peter answered, “Other people.” “So,” Jesus concluded, “the king’s children are exempt. But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. Open it’s mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax. Give that to them for me and for you.” 

Jesus became man to pay the price for our redemption. Only He can pay the price because He is sinless. He can stand before His Father and pay for our transgressions. Today we, the king’s children, are exempt from paying the price of our sin, eternal damnation, because Jesus paid for us on the cross.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Heavenly Treasure

"Where your treasure is, there your heart is also." Luke 12:34

In the 6th chapter of Matthew, Jesus gives us His financial advice, His divine blueprint for estate planning. "Do not lay up for yourselves earthly treasure." Earthly treasure is not going to last, it can be stolen, burned, it can rust and devalue. Instead we should make it our practice to to store up heavenly treasure. We can think of storing heavenly treasure as buying stocks in heaven. The difference is these stocks are much better than blue chips, it's not going to devalue, the price won't go down! Whatever we invest is going to go up, up, up! But how can we buy Kingdom stocks? What is of value in heaven?

Jesus told the story of the pearl of great price in Matthew 13. When a merchant found the pearl more beautiful than all the others, he sold all his possessions to buy it. What is it that Jesus was willing to give up everything for? Jesus bought us, the pearl of great price at the cost of His very life! He became a man, left His power and glory in heaven, just so He can give us His greatest gift, eternal life in Heaven with Him.

Saint Lawrence is one of my favorite saints. We celebrated his Feast Day yesterday. When asked by the Prefect of Rome to turn over the treasures of the Church, Lawrence went throughout the city and gathered together the poor, the lame, the blind, the sick. Then he presented them to the greedy Prefect. "Here are the Church's treasure!" he announced. The Prefect was not amused and the saint was roasted over an iron grill!

We need not follow Saint Lawrence but we should remember that if we use our time, talent and money to bring people to God, we are investing in what God values most!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Sow Bountifully

“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will reap bountifully” 2 Corinthians 9:6

It is said the the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed (Matthew 13:31). Perhaps we are all given seeds to sow. Our words. Our deeds. Our money. Our talents. Our smiles. Our hugs. These are all seeds to build God’s Kingdom or even to destroy it. It is our choice. 

Dodie Osteen had something wrong with her two feet and she was very self-conscious about them. But one day, someone told her, “You walk like a princess!” And so ever since that time, she never forgot it and would walk with her head held high. Today at 85 years old, she continues to spread encouragement and healing to others. 

There was an overworked minister whose wife abandoned him, leaving their teenage daughter with him to care for. She was such a rebel, she would stay out late every night, provoking him to lecture to her all the time. His words fell on deaf ears, and he would pray and pray asking God what to do. One day when he was on his knees in despair, he heard God say to him, “Just love her.” That very night, when she came in late, he said nothing but just hugged her tightly. Every night after that, he hugged her tight. Today that young rebellious teenager now preaches the Word just like her daddy. 

What seeds are we sowing today?

Friday, August 09, 2019

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

I like reading about saints. They were ordinary people who loved God extraordinarily. Because of their love for God, they were able to deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow Jesus. Today is the Feast Day of a Jewish woman who became a Discalced Carmelite nun. She was murdered in the gas chamber in Auschwitz-Birkenau along with her sister Rosa, who was also a Carmelite nun. 

St. Edith Stein, also known as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, rejected her family’s Jewish piety and became an atheist at the age of 13. In 1917, a colleague, Professor Adolf Reinach, was killed in the war. When Edith visited Anna, his wife, she was deeply impressed with her Christian faith. 

She started reading the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila and became drawn to the Catholic faith. After finishing the book, she  declared, “This is the truth!” She was baptized on January 1, 1922. She was very intelligent and she continued studying and writing. She translated the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas into German. Soon she became a teacher and lecturer around Europe about the role of Catholic women. 

When it became difficult to teach because of Nazi restrictions, she entered the Carmelites as Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. She devoted her life to holiness and self-offering even as the Nazis forced her to wear the Star of David over her habit. 

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross herself wrote, “I talked with the Savior and told Him that I knew that it was His cross that was now being placed on the Jewish people; that most of them did not understand this, but that those who did would have to take it up willingly in the name of all. I would do that. He should only show me how.”

Yes, Lord, show us how. 

Thursday, August 08, 2019

No Weapon!

“...the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18

I always marvel at our business. In spite of how many mistakes we have made, how much still needs to be fixed after almost 52 years since it started, we are thriving. We just opened a new branch in SM City Bacoor, and I am so thankful for our staff who took care setting it up without our help. I remember when it was my mom, my sisters and I who had to go and fix the displays on the walls, the shelves, organize the stockroom. We would have to go up and down stools and ladders and it was such hard work! Now, we went to visit yesterday and it was all fixed so nicely. And many people came and bought. So grateful to God for our business and our staff who work tirelessly. 

Because I see God’s faithfulness in taking care of our business, and our family, I can see His faithfulness magnified a hundred million times in His Church. He promised that whatever darts and arrows the enemy will throw, no weapon forged against His Church will prevail. In spite of all the mistakes and sins committed by His people, His Pope, priests, nuns and missionaries, His pastors and even televangelists, His Church not only survives but thrives. There are communities all around the world on fire serving Him, striving to obey Him. 

There are evangelists like Nicky Cruz bringing the Holy Spirit of love and purification into the inner cities, changing the lives of hoodlums, drug addicts and gangsters since he was very young. There are nuns like 85 year old Sister Maria Concetta Esu, who has for the past 60 years, served the poor in Africa by bringing thousands of babies into the world. There are so many missionaries’ tombs in Africa, forgotten by the world, but not forgotten by God who knows each one by name. They are the soldiers of the Church. They are His workers toiling tirelessly in the fields. Are we too working to bring His Kingdom to earth? 

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Great Faith

Did a collage today and here are the materials I used: cut ups from magazine pages, an old book and a Starbucks paper bag. Then I used the Prisma and Rhonna app to alter it. 

“O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish!” Matthew 15:28

The words we say to God are very important. In the Old Testament, the men who were sent to reconnoiter the land of Canaan came back with discouraging reports. They said the people in the land God promised them were fierce giants, too strong for them, for they felt like “grasshoppers”. The people grumbled and complained showing God they did not trust Him to give them what He promised. What did God do? He said they would never reach the land He promised them and they didn’t. 

In contrast, there was a Canaanite woman  who approached Jesus. We don’t know what she knew of God’s promises to His people but she knew enough of Jesus’ character to plead with Him for the life of her daughter. She asked Jesus to save her daughter from the torments of a demon. At first Jesus refused and said He came for the Jews, “the lost sheep of Israel”. “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”

She persisted, undeterred, “Please, Lord, even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” By her words, she showed Jesus she knew that there was more than enough power, kindness, graciousness, faithfulness, generosity, in Jesus, to spare for her. By her words, she confessed trust that Jesus would do well by her. He could and would answer her need. 

When we have persistent faith in God, when we stand on His promises, and don’t grumble and complain, He will meet us where we are. Our words to God are important. 

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Pay Attention!

“We have been eyewitnesses of His majesty.” 2 Peter 1:16

Here Peter is reminding us that he was present when Jesus took him, James and John up a mountain and witnessed with his own eyes, Jesus together with Moses and Elijah. Jesus’ clothes were dazzling white, a cloud enveloped them all and a voice said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him.” 

That kind of mountaintop experience can change your life and it did change the life of the apostles. We can believe this unbelievable story of theirs, because they followed Jesus, obeyed Him, preached His teachings, persisted till they were martyred. They never said, “We made a mistake!” or “We lied!” or “We made it up!” 

Instead, Peter emphasizes in his letter to the Jewish Christians, which he wrote NEAR THE END OF HIS LIFE, that he was an eyewitness, and had “insider information” that was altogether reliable. “You would do well to be attentive to it!” Peter emphasized. 

How urgent can it be? The message was so compelling that Saint Peter wanted to spread the message far and wide until he was martyred in Rome in the year 64 AD. Saint Peter said “Pay attention to what the prophets wrote.” Why? Saint Augustine said, “The New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New.”

Are we paying attention? Are we listening? 

Monday, August 05, 2019

Rejoice in Trials

“We see nothing but this manna.” Numbers 11:6

After being delivered from slavery, and miraculously crossing the Red Sea, the Jews were grumbling and complaining about manna from heaven. The manna fell with the dew every night without fail. Instead of thanking God for His faithful provision, the Israelites moaned and groaned, and their leader Moses complained to God, “I cannot carry all these people by myself, for they are too heavy for me.” 

Sometimes we see God’s gifts and miracles as burdens. Have we not moaned and groaned about our work or people in the office? a family member who needs extra care? our house that needs fixing? All we see are the problems. 

We need to change our lenses to gratitude lenses. Instead of seeing our problems as something to grumble about, see them as gifts. Challenges are God’s creative way to mould us. 

In Romans 5:3-4, Saint Paul advises that we should rejoice in our trials and tribulations: knowing that tribulation produces steadfastness, patience and perseverance. This in turn develops strength of character in us. When we are undergoing some trial or testing, let us be confident that God is doing some perfecting in us. Just like any master potter, He will knead and mold, and carve. He will throw us on the potter's wheel again and again to make us into the masterpiece He plans. 

Lord, it may be hard to rejoice in the trials and sufferings we sometimes go through. May we always be aware that You walk with us during these times, and may we be confident that You are doing some important work in us. Amen

Sunday, August 04, 2019


All the readings of today’s liturgy points to how foolish we are if we continue to put more value on being prosperous. In Ecclesiastes1, the wise man Qoheleth, a King of Jerusalem proclaims, “Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” All things are futile, worthless, pointless. In the second reading, St. Paul exhorts us to “seek what is above, not of what is on earth”. 

In the Gospel reading (Luke 12:13-21), Jesus warns, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” He tells the crowd a parable of a rich man who was planning to build larger barns, but this man did not realize that he was about to die. 

Indeed, there is nothing more certain in this world than death. Instead of avoiding thinking about death, should we not prepare for it? When I travel 🧳 to a foreign country, I try to learn as much about it so I can pack well for my days there. I look up the weather, I want to know our itinerary so I can plan what to wear. I need to know what kind of plugs they have, currency, what I need to do to use my phone without problems. I bring something to weigh my luggage so it’s not overweight. 

Should we not study about what happens after we die, and how we can get there? Our time here on earth is just a wink of an eye compared to the unlimited time we have afterwards. It is really the utmost stupidity to spend most of our time here on earth acquiring things that rust, build things that termites destroy, and put our money where it can devalue. We need to be good stewards of the gifts God gives us, and realize that He wants us to use it also for laying up treasures in heaven. How? That is what we need to study and plan for, the same way we research and plan when we go on trips abroad, or out of town. 

Saturday, August 03, 2019

The Truth Cannot Be Killed

"At a birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance and delighted Herod so much that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for." Matthew 14: 6-7

This is such an absurd scenario that sometimes I think no one could be that stupid! Imagine if you will, our president enjoying the dance of a young girl and promising under oath to give her anything up to half of our country. She runs to her mother and instead of asking for wealth or power OR half the country, she asks for the head of a poor itinerant preacher!

I can't help but relate this story to a book written by Mackenzie Phillips, the daughter of John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas (a well known singing group in the 60s). John Phillips had more money and fame and foolish friends than he knew what to do with. He threw it all away on drugs, women and wild parties and brought his young daughter for a ride with him. She had her first high at 10 years old and brought cocaine to school in fifth grade!

Maybe Herod was high on drugs. Maybe all of them at that party were on acid! Drugs are one way to escape the truth. Killing the messenger another! I guess by nature, we want to silence the still small voice, our conscience, when we want to continue to keep doing the wrong things. It gets easier every time we do wrong. Until we can't hear the truth anymore because of the cacophony of noise, the pollution of sin that kills it.

In our world today, no one wants to hear the word sin. Even televangelists shy away from saying it for fear they'd lose their audience. We won't get their heads chopped off for telling the truth today. But I can't help feeling it's easy to shut the truth out by turning to all the feel good programs on TV and nice messages on facebook. A lot of times, we can’t even get the truth on the news programs! Herod had John the Baptist killed for telling him and his “wife” Herodias the truth. BUT THE TRUTH CANNOT BE KILLED. It cannot be silenced even if the messenger is done away with. Eventually, all the filth, the lies, the sins, the corruption will be exposed. 

Lord, may we always live in the light. May we always desire to listen to our conscience and be guided by You. May we never accept the lies and half truths that make sin acceptable and palatable in the world today. 

Friday, August 02, 2019

Greater Things

“Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?” Matthew 13:54

Jesus visited his home town, Nazareth, after several years. The people who knew him were astonished when He taught in the synagogue. “Is he not the carpenter’s son?” they asked. “Where did he get such wisdom and mighty deeds?”

Jesus promised in John 14:12, “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me shall also do the works that I do. And greater things than these shall he do, for I go to the Father.” I believe if we really believe this promise, we will be ever ready to pray for people and lay hands on them. Sometimes I forget, sometimes I am too shy to do this, sometimes I am afraid of rejection. Really, I have to get over this and just keep praying over people and telling them of God’s love. 

In 1958, David Wilkerson was a young, skinny preacher. He read in Life magazine about the dangerous gang-infested ghettoes in New York. He was so bothered by it, that he left his pregnant wife to go into those dark places that even the police wouldn’t dare enter. 

There he encountered Nicky Cruz, the leader of the Mau Maus, a tough group of gangsters who enjoyed killing, drugs, alcohol and women. As Nicky tells it, the skinny preacher, was shaking when he entered the Mau Maus’ lair. David just kept repeating, “Jesus loves you, Nicky!” Nicky spat in David’s face and hit him, and  threatened to kill him, but David just kept at it, praying over Nicky, until Nicky and the other gang members cried like babies. 

Nicky Cruz’ life changed. He continues to tell his testimony around the world and how, “I will be in heaven with David because he was bold enough in the power of the Holy Spirit to tell a kid holding a switchblade in his face that Jesus loved me.” 

Where did David Wilkerson get his wisdom, his boldness, and his mighty deeds? Nicky Cruz did not know it at the time, but previous to David’s visit, the preacher had been praying day and night for Nicky and his gang. David did not go alone. He was empowered by the Holy Spirit!

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Good Fish, Bad Fish

“The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.” Matthew 13:47

We can see how different God is from some earthly kings and presidents who want to kill the ‘bad fish’. God will only get rid of the ‘bad fish’ at the end of the age. 

If Nicky Cruz were in the Philippines when he was young, a leader of a bloodthirsty gang, and up to no good every night, he would be a target. Instead he became a target of David Wilkerson, an evangelist in the worst areas in New York. 

Nicky was born to a witch and a warlock in Puerto Rico. They sacrificed animals to Satan and ate it raw, and the stench of blood used to sicken Nicky. His mother beat him up several times and tell him he was worthless. His father would throw him naked in a small locked room full of pigeons attacking him. When he was sent to New York, he wanted to make others suffer and feel pain the way he did. 

When Nicky was 19 years old, Pastor Wilkerson risked his life to throw out his net for the bad ass gang members. Nicky and the others heard him preach, “God has the power to change your life.” Nicky cursed out loud, spit in the Pastor’s face and hit him. “I don’t believe in what you say! Get out of here.’”

Pastor Wilkerson said, “You could cut me up into 1000 pieces and lay them in the street. Every piece will still love you.” Nicky and his gang eventually attended one of the Pastor’s rallies and gave their lives to Jesus Christ, bad fishes no more! Nicky Cruz went to Bible College, met Gloria who is now his wife. He preaches around the world. One time he preached in Paraguay and two thousand witches came to put a curse on the proceedings. Nicky and the 70 people who were with him prayed and many of the witches gave their lives to Christ. The ones who didn’t were carted off in ambulances, screaming and writhing in pain. 

Lord, thank You for being merciful and patient. Even bad fish can be saved by Your love and grace. May You use us O Lord to reach out to the hurting.