Tuesday, March 31, 2020

God Shouting in our Pain

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

Poor Moses! He was stuck with an ungrateful and rebellious people! Even after they had seen God’s mighty saving power, they still complained. Imagine saying after Moses led them out from slavery, “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food.” 

In punishment, the Lord sent Saraph serpents, which bit people and many died. In a way, some of us are like the Israelites in the harsh desert, with some of us dying after being “bitten” by the Covid-19 virus. After complaining about horrendous traffic, our workload, no time for family, our busy schedule, we suddenly find ourselves in a barren land. It is difficult to get food, we have to find new ways of connecting with family, friends and office mates we used to see day in and day out. It is unprecedented because it is happening all over the world. 

How are we dealing with the isolation and confinement? Are we continuing to complain or are we finding that we can meet God where we are right now? Are we grumbling because we are forced to stay at home? Or are we appreciative that we have abruptly been taken out of our self-preoccupied world and dropped unceremoniously into a new place where the emptiness gives us new eyes and ears to see and hear God speak? 

The desert can be a beautiful place. God can speak louder in the emptiness and silence of a desert. C.S. Lewis wrote, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Is God shouting to us right now? 

Monday, March 30, 2020

Sin No More

"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 we 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. 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Take Away the Stone

“Take away the stone.” Luke 11:39

Even if Jesus said He was the resurrection and the life in John 11:25, He still mourned when his friend Lazarus died. Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus, and I imagine He weeps with us when we lose someone dear to us. Jesus cannot fail to have compassion for all the wonderful people we have lost in these terrible times. We could not have imagined the death toll in Italy, in Spain, in the US, and dear God, we hope we will not see a devastating rise in deaths here in the Philippines. We have already lost so many doctors and so many are still quarantined in hospitals. 

Death is always a terrible loss, whether the person who dies is a talented, powerful, beautiful, loving human being or not. The potential to have lived a better, more fruitful, purposeful life is cut off. We are sad that we cannot be with that person any longer. So yes, Jesus mourned and wept, and we do the same. 

But we should not take the words of Jesus as platitudes, a feel good cliché, a trite remark to quell uneasiness. HE is the resurrection and the life and whoever believes in HIM, when he dies, will live a full abundant life and never die again. This can become a reality for us and should be a concrete truth for us to deal with the horror of these days. 

When I could see my mother’s failing health, I was terrified to lose her. We were so close, we would go to mass almost every day and talk about all sorts of things afterwards. She was not only my mother, she was my friend and kindred spirit. My family and I exhausted all means of praying, various medical solutions, and even went on a pilgrimage with her to Europe with a healing priest. Five years after her diagnosis of cancer, she left us. The day she died, God gave me the most amazing, miraculous glimpse of her heavenly home with Him, and my fear of losing her turned to joy. I was in awe of what God did for me! It was truly the most wonderful gift! 

Yes it is but right to mourn our loved ones, but let us also know that Jesus can take away the stone of despair and sadness, if we take His words to heart. 

Saturday, March 28, 2020

In You I Hope

“O Lord, my God, in You I have hoped; save me from all those who persecute me and save me.” Psalm 7:2

Who can we turn to during perilous times like these when life seems so fragile and every day one does not know what to expect? Do we turn to men? Can we expect the government to save us? Science? With all the brilliant men and women racing to find a cure, a vaccine, to put an end to this scourge, it still rages on day after day. The most powerful countries in the world have not been able to save their people. 

There is One who is more powerful than death. If we know Him as a friend, we will not be afraid. I have only to remember the days before my open heart surgery last December. I was totally 100% at peace. The night before the operation I was sound asleep and I woke up refreshed. Who can do that but God? Grace surrounded me as surely as a comfortable cloak shielded me from cold. Of course I was also bombarded by so many prayers from family, friends and even strangers. 

I will forever be grateful for my brother-in-law praying for me during my operation. He saw me surrounded by mighty angels while I was on the operating table. That’s why we need to pray for each other at this time. It is a sure weapon against our invisible enemy. Let us pray that God will send His powerful angels to protect us and to especially surround those who are sick. 

Let us not succumb to fear and anxiety which is said to lower our immune system. Every time we are fearful, let us turn to the Lord who is the giver of hope and every good and perfect gift. He is especially near to us when we are afraid or broken hearted or uncertain. If we turn our minds and hearts to Him He can give us the strength we need for today. 

Friday, March 27, 2020

Broken Hearted

“The Lord is near to the broken-hearted; and those who are crushed in spirit He saves.” Psalm 34:19

There are just too many heart breaking events these past days. From around the world come stories that may have seemed unbelievable to us just a couple of months ago, but we are just barely into a new year, and it seems as if 2020 has just gone on and on. The march of this epidemic has been inexorable in almost all parts of the world. 

Sometimes we are tempted to dismiss all the awful news as fake, but we can’t. In Italy, there are 80,589 Coronavirus cases, and 8,215 deaths as of today. Here in the Philippines there are 707 cases with 45 dead. Those aren’t statistics, those are people. People fighting for their lives, young and old, rich and poor, men, women with families, jobs, people who need them. The worst thing about this sickness is the loneliness. You have to fight it without your friends and family beside you, and when you die, you die alone. The toll is so hard on the healthworkers who usually want to get to know their patients. Because this disease is so contagious, and because they need to take care of so many, they cannot spend the usual time caring for the patient. 

Hospitals are overwhelmed and understaffed. There are not enough equipment to keep their frontliners safe. How many good doctors have died in the battlefield? Too many and many more are still fighting for their lives. Lord, this is just too much to deal with. I do not even want to take a peek into the future! 

What do we need to do? We need to stop reading, and watching the news all the time. There is just so much we can take. We need to breathe deep and thank God for what we have right now, where we are. Jesus chose to give thanks on the night He was betrayed. We need to do that too, as a defense against the dark forces trying to engulf us. 

We have to pray to the God who is in control, and who loves us as if we were His only child. We need to stand on the uncompromised Word of God and let it surround us, back, front, both sides and on top. No amount of heartbreaking stories on Viber, Facebook or in the news can compete with the joy, peace and vibrancy of the real Good News. We need to anchor ourselves on that or we will flounder helplessly in the waves of fear and uncertainty. 

Thursday, March 26, 2020


“They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them, making for themselves a molten calf and worshipping it...” Exodus 32:8

It is easy to think that this Covid-19 pandemic ravaging the world is a plague God’s wrath has sent. In the book of Exodus, we read that when Moses went up Mount Sinai leaving the Israelites for 40 days and 40 nights, they made a molten calf out of their gold ornaments and proclaimed that as their god! Although we may find that absurd, people today have many idols as well. 

I was listening to a pastor’s wife, and she said she was flabbergasted during one prayer time when God accused her of having an idol. “What is my idol, Father?” she asked, and she was chastened when she realized she was too preoccupied with getting thin. She was always on a diet, always in the gym exercising, always anxious when she gained weight. Even something like that which consumes us to the point that we lose balance in what is important can be an idol. 

How much more if we take a look at what the world has been giving importance to? Women having abortions because they want to get ahead, because babies are inconvenient, because they want to continue their free lifestyles. Politicians stealing the money of the people in the millions with no thought of the deprivations of the poor they swore to serve. Businessmen who want to be so successful at all costs bribing and cutting costs and not paying the correct taxes. The list goes on and on. 

A congressman in the US was crying as he asked forgiveness from God for the many sins of his nation. We too should cry out to God especially in these days of uncertainty. Perhaps, yes perhaps, God is angry. We haven’t been grateful for all His gifts. We have not been good stewards of this world He gave us to take care of. But God’s anger is always because He wants the best for us. Just as parents get angry and discipline their children when they disobey, God’s chastening is always for our good. God’s mercy and forgiveness when we turn to Him is always greater than His justice. He has a passionate love for us, His people. He cannot resist us when we turn to Him in humility and repentance. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Handmaiden of the Lord

“Behold I am the handmaiden of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38

Today most Christians around the world celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord as we commemorate the visit of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary. Gabriel informs her that she has found favor with God and she will bear a son. He gives her a series of clues about this baby: He shall be named Jesus, He will be great, He will be called Son of the Most High, God will give Him the throne of David his father, He will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end. Whew! That’s a whole lot to swallow! Especially for a young Jewish girl who was hardly out of her teens. 

Mary knew exactly what the angel was talking about because she grew up pondering God’s word. She was to be the sign God would give, the virgin with child that the prophet Isaiah foretold to King Ahaz (Isaiah 8:10). Jesus was to be the the star that rose from Jacob spoken of in Numbers 24:17. Her Son Jesus was the descendant of King David prophesied in 2 Samuel 7:12-16. The coming Messiah was spoken about throughout the Hebrew Bible and the Jews, Mary included, longed for His coming. 

When she voiced her assent, “May it be done to me according to your word,” the Holy Spirit came upon her, and the power of the Most High overshadowed her. It was not until nine months later that the Word became flesh and dwelt among men. 

Sometimes we expect God to answer our prayers right away. We get impatient and sometimes think He is not listening. We are too influenced by the fast pace of this world. God has His own timing. We should train ourselves to have an obedient, waiting, and patient spirit like Mary. “Let it be done unto me according to Your Word.” Then we will see how sweet is the fruit of our prayer. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

More Things are Wrought by Prayer

“God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress, Therefore we fear not, though the earth be shaken and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea.” Psalm 46:2-3

I am sure many are dealing with fear and anxiety at this time. It is but natural as we face many uncertainties. A neighbor of mine went to a party with her husband before the quarantine and found out there was a Covid-19 positive patient present at the event. She confessed she was filled with fear as she faced her own mortality. I see many such confessions on Facebook. 

I think the most poignant was from an anesthesiologist who was one of the frontliner’s in the battlefield against Covid-19. Before he passed away, he seemed very troubled. Without his family beside him, he texted, “The turn of events is just no longer going in my favor. The feeling you get, aside from extreme pains all over, difficulty of breathing and as if all life is being sucked from your body.” 

“They will be putting cutdown lines and central tubes on me anytime soon. If they intubate me and place me on ventilator, then the game is almost over,” he said. But his last words were about his autistic son and his wife, a doctor who was also fighting for her life in another part of the hospital. He pleaded that his friends and family take care of them both. 

Is it really possible to be strong and fear not when in the midst of a world shaking unprecedented pandemic? The mountains have not plunged into the depths of the sea but our stock markets have certainly taken a beating. We do not know the future, and when all this will be over. 

There is One who knows the future, and who holds this world in His hands. Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote these favorite lines, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of”. We may not be aware of it, and we certainly forget, but we are surrounded by God’s answers to our prayers. If we are anxious and afraid, let us turn away from the TV, radio, Viber, Twitter or wherever we are getting our bad news, and turn to God. He can and will surround us with grace if we persevere in prayer. If we read the Psalms, He can even give us peace beyond understanding. Whatever our problems, God’s Word will not return to Him without accomplishing good in our life. Let us place our trust in the One who loves us best. 

Monday, March 23, 2020

Signs and Wonders

“Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” John 4:48

We have been praying for a miracle for God to put a stop to this relentless invasion of the Covid-19 virus. God granted us a miracle in January after Taal Volcano erupted and spewed ashes that reached Metro Manila, even up to the Ilocos region. It disrupted classes, work schedules and flights in and out of Manila. Listening to the experts, it seemed as if an eruption of great magnitude was inevitable. But our people prayed and God spared us the destruction, the loss of lives, and the heartbreak. 

Today, do we dare pray for yet another miracle? Observing what is happening in other countries like Italy, with far superior health services than ours, the normal course for this virus epidemic does not bode well for our country. People dying with Covid-like symptoms but who have not been tested, are not even part of the already alarming statistics given out by the DOH everyday. We just know about them because they are part of our circle. 

We need our eyes of faith to see what God sees. Death is no stranger to God. It is a way to bring His beloved people to their real home where there is no more mourning or weeping. We are devastated here for all the doctors who left the battlefield, for all the patients who lost the fight, but in heaven there is rejoicing, maybe even a celestial parade to welcome them where they truly belong! 

Where we see the world stopping, all the money and time lost, God sees healing and renewal. He is helping not only nature to mend, but our souls to take a much needed rest from all the harassments of our busy lives. If we take God at His Word, we need not be anxious for anything. By prayer and petition, and even with thanksgiving, we just need to present our requests to Him, and His peace, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7) 

Yes, I am praying for a miracle which is well within God’s power to grant, but I also know our lives are in His hands. He is in control and we just need to trust Him because He knows exactly what He is doing. 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Expose the Works of Darkness

“Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them...” Ephesians 5:10-11

I want to look at the bright side of things as much as anybody, but as Christians, we also have the responsibility to “expose the fruitless works of darkness.” In Proverbs 31:8-9, we read this injunction: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” 

Some people would prefer we do not say anything critical about the way things are done, about how our government does things, how our political leaders do not do a good job. If more of us do not speak out, how will things change? Many in our society are voiceless, and do not feel they count for anything. We who have a voice, need to speak for them. We also need to act for them. 

At the start of the quarantine, it was glaringly apparent that our leaders had no plans in place for the urban poor. How would they eat during a time they could not go to work, when they only got paid when they appeared for work? One said “walang namamatay sa gutom” (no one dies from hunger) when he defended the quarantine for one month. There were also no funds to provide our hospitals, doctors and frontliners with equipment to fight the epidemic. The private sector had to step in scrounging around for protective equipment, even making diy face shields. One doctor even had to make do with water bottles to protect his staff! 

Yes, we should always have a thankful and grateful heart but we should also be vigilant, ever on the watch for the work of the enemy, for injustice, dishonesty, evil intentions, arrogance or just plain ineptness. Critical feedback is crucial especially during times of crises when lives are at stake. We can see that the government listens when there are enough of us who shout out. 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

A Sinner

“God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Luke 18:13

It is difficult for us to confront our own sinfulness but Lent is precisely the time to do it. During these difficult times when we are forced to give up our regular work, our get togethers with family and friends, when we cannot celebrate birthdays, we cannot fail to ask questions. What have we done to deserve this? 

In the first reading for today from Hosea, we read, “Come, let us return to the Lord, it is He who has rent, but He will heal us.” (Hosea 6:1) In the NIV this translates to “He has torn us to pieces”. In the CEV, this is what we find: “He has torn us to shreds”. An atheist would propose, “There is no God! Why would a god allow so much pain and suffering in this world?” I am glad our President did not use the situation to curse God but instead, urged us to pray. 

It is said the gate to heaven is narrow, but it may even be so low that only the humble of heart can get in. I know that our Father in heaven wants all of us to get into heaven. These days when we cannot fail to see that all that man has accomplished through the centuries can be wiped out in a matter of months by an invisible enemy, we face our helplessness and turn to God. Yes, to me this shows there is a living, mighty God, who wants to show us what is important, what will last through eternity. It is not what man has built, but what He has given to us. And that is what we are left with now. Our relationship with Him. Our loving Father is asking us to return to Him, to listen to Him, to pray. “He has struck us, but He will bind our wounds....For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:1-6)

Friday, March 20, 2020

Love Your Neighbor

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31

At no other time in my life is this verse more poignant. I was so frustrated the other day as we were trying to organize a feeding program for the poor in our parish. So many roadblocks. We were mostly senior citizens, and we needed to stay home. How could this be accomplished? How could it be organized? 

In the Parish of Sta. Maria Della Strada, their Parish Priest and Parish Pastoral Council were able to coordinate a program to give 150 families 1.5 kilos of rice and canned goods every day until April 14. The parishioners were able to donate money online. Perhaps more people will be able to implement this in their parishes. It is hard to think we will just allow people to go hungry. We also need to pray for our mayors, our Barangay captains and their people, who have to implement the gargantuan task of feeding thousands of urban poor every day. Our mayor said there are 400,000 poor families in Quezon City alone. Let us look for good feeding programs and donate to supplement the government’s effort. 

I wonder what Mother Teresa would have done if she was alive today? Would she be wearing a mask and a hazmat suit as she went about visiting the sick? I always remember her funny little face which was always described as “beautiful” by people who saw her in person, when I think about the poor. She said that we should strive to see everyone, even those who want to do us harm, as “Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor.” How can we help Jesus from where we are with what we have during this time that we have to stay home? Let us find good feeding programs to contribute to, and pray continuously for God’s mercy upon all of us. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Thank God!

“The promises of the Lord I will sing forever, through all generations my mouth shall proclaim Your faithfulness.” Psalm 89:2

Gratefulness is something we need to practice. When we wake up in the morning, are we thankful for a new day, aware that God is present in all our waking and sleeping hours? If we want to be a grateful people, we need to train ourselves by setting aside a part of our prayer time to think about our blessings and thank God. In my prayer journal, I literally count my blessings and I am up to 8,000 plus listed down. Every day there is so much to be thankful for. 

Everyday for the past 4 days my brother Robert has been giving live drawing classes via internet. Yesterday he had his viewers make a Thank You poster. He asked the kids what they were grateful for and he drew some of them, and asked them to continue to add to the drawings. What a joy to see the posters the kids came up with! One little kid uploaded a video and he enumerated all the things he was thankful for, and concluded with, “I am grateful for God!” 

Indeed, without God, where would we be? Without His promises, His unfailing love, we would still be dust and dirt and ashes. But He made us, created this beautiful earth and the magnificent and awesome universe to be a part of. He has a plan and purpose for each one of us. Life may be hard now, with everybody confined in their homes, or stuck in the hospital, or wherever work is, but if we see through the eyes of faith, everyday is a gift. It is a gift to have extra time to be with family, it is a gift to be able to serve. It is a gift to go through the posts of friends on Facebook or Viber and to pray for the needs that are brought to our attention, and to praise God that He never forsakes us through the generations. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

God’s Good Law

“Teach them to your children and your children’s children.” Deuteronomy 4:9

During the time of Moses, he encouraged the Jews he was leading to observe carefully the statutes and decrees of the Lord. He said that if they obeyed, they will give witness to other nations that they are a wise and intelligent people. No other nation has “gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us!” 

Sometimes, we can find laws burdensome and we look for ways we can go around it. Usually people don’t follow rules if they think they won’t get caught, or it’s just plain inconvenient or hard to obey. Last Thursday night, our President called for strict measures as he imposed a community quarantine covering Metro Manila. Unfortunately, instead of the “social distancing” that was necessary to keep the Covid-19 virus from spreading, we saw crowds congregating in transportation terminals, and overcrowded jeepneys the drivers couldn’t control. Thousands converged in bus depots to exodus out of Metro Manila to take advantage of the two day window allowed, spreading the virus outside of Manila. Shelves in the supermarkets emptied even as people were told not to panic buy because food was sufficient. 

So the President ordered an “Enhanced Community Quarantine”, in effect, a lockdown. No more public transportation to restrict movement. We are supposed to stay home. Of course there are problems, but the important thing is if we have no essential business outside, we should stay home and stay safe. 

It is important to obey the law. In Italy, when their cities were put on quarantine, they did not obey, so now they are facing a situation where doctors have no choice but to choose who they will treat and who they will leave to die. There are not enough beds and equipment in their hospitals to help everyone. And they have the best healthcare! 

God gave us laws as well. Compared to the Covid-19, the virus of sin is much more serious. If we live a life of sin, and do not obey God’s commandments to love Him and our neighbor, we are in much more grave a danger than dying from Covid-19. It is important to know God’s laws and keep safe in His protection and guidance. And we should teach our children and our children’s children to love God and love His law for it is for our good. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

For His Own Sake

“You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had compassion on your fellow servant, as I had compassion on you?” Matthew 18:32-33

God is the same today as He was yesterday. In the Old Testament there are several accounts where God’s favored people were punished for their sins. God allowed their captivity or defeat, and even in modern times, the Jews were victims of the Holocaust. Is it because He wanted to bring them low? Is it because He did not want to forgive them? 

“For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation, brought low everywhere in the world this day because of our sins,” Azariah acknowledged when the Israelites became captives of the Babylonians. And he asked with a contrite and humble heart for God’s forgiveness for his people. This Lent we need to do the same. 

We are indeed brought low by this virus, that we cannot go about our regular busy lives. But we can look at this time, this Lenten season, with eyes of faith, and see the extraordinary gift God is giving us. We need to stay home. We have more time to pray, read the Bible and other books, be with family, clean and organize and find things to give away, indulge in our hobbies, connect with people, etc. 

God is calling us back to Him. We are His favorites as well, just like the Israelites. “The Lord disciplines those he loves, and He chastens everyone He accepts as His son." (Hebrews 12:6) Let us look for the ways we have disappointed Him and ask forgiveness. Perhaps there is some unforgiveness in our heart we need to root out. Perhaps there is envy, or condemnation, or perhaps we like to gossip. We need to root it out and ask God’s mercy for our sins. And God is merciful and will blot out our transgressions FOR HIS OWN SAKE; and He will not remember our sins. (Isaiah 43:25)

Monday, March 16, 2020

Cured of Leprosy

“Am I a god with power over life and death, that this man should send someone to me to be cured of leprosy?” 2 Kings 5:7

The story of Naaman, a LEPER, makes a very interesting read. Naaman, must have been an impressive man in spite of his being diseased. He was the highly esteemed army commander of the King of Aram. 

Naaman’s wife had a little Jewish slave girl who told her a prophet in Samaria would be able to cure him of his leprosy. The King sent Naaman off to the King of Israel, with a letter. When Joram, the King of Israel read the letter, he tore his garments and exclaimed, “Am I a god with power over life and death, that this man should send someone to me to be cured of leprosy?”

When Elisha the prophet heard about this, he told the King of Israel to send Naaman to him. After Naaman obeyed what Elisha told him to do, to go and wash seven times in the Jordan river, his leprosy was healed. His flesh became like a little child.

It is a question to me why we do not have prophets like Elisha we can go to for guidance and healing. We need him today to go around the world healing so many people struck down by this virus. I think it is because Jesus came and sent us the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. We are supposed to be “Elisha” in our part of the world. We need to practice the gifts of the Spirit which include healing, discernment, wisdom, miracles, prophecy, tongues and interpretation of tongues. These are weapons God gave us to advance His Kingdom. 

Just like in any army, we need to learn and practice how to use weapons. We can’t expect to go out into the battlefield and be an expert. We need to be brave and pray over sick people and use the gifts God gave us. Maybe at first, we won’t see any results. But if we keep at it and don’t give up, I am 100% sure, we will see God work through us. 

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Living Water

Jesus responded and said to her: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who is saying to you, ‘Give me to drink,’ perhaps you would have made a request of Him, and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10

Yesterday, because of the imposed guidelines to stay home, my friend posted a group bible study on Facebook about this story of the Samaritan woman and Jesus. She said that as a start we should think of questions, questions, questions. The Samaritan woman had lots of questions too. It is all right to have questions about the Word of God, the stories we read in the Bible, the things Jesus said. 

Some people just give up on delving deeper if they have lots of questions, just like I did in my High School years, when I did not agree with what Jesus said. I was too young to know that Jesus welcomes our questions. The woman asked, “How can You, a Jew, ask me a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” Then incredulously, “Sir, You do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep, where can you get this living water?” 

We are like that Samaritan woman sometimes, happy with the “well” we get our water from, unaware that if we approach Jesus every day He can give us living water that will quench our thirst and hunger which we think that this world can satisfy. St. Augustine learned the secret: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in Thee.”

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The Prodigal Father

The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ Luke 15:21

The parable of the prodigal son is one of the most well loved stories in the Bible. The meaning of prodigal here refers to how the younger son was wastefully extravagant with the inheritance from his father. He asked for half of his share of the estate and squandered it all in wild living. 

We can also call it the tale of the prodigal father, for when his wayward son came home, the father was extremely generous and lavish with his forgiveness and love. We can look forward to a welcome like that from our Heavenly Father when we turn back to him in humility and repentance. 

I cannot help feeling that this Covid-19 scare is really a call for all of us to examine our lives, take stock of how we have used the gifts we are given, and how we love our neighbors. It is also a time to repent of our personal and corporate sins as a nation. I sense that far from angry, like the prodigal Father, God is waiting for His people to come to our senses and see the truth. We put too much value in worldly things. We are like the younger son who wants everything the world can offer, when what we have with our Father is so much more precious. Let us run back to Him. He is waiting. Let us spend more time in prayer and reading His Word. That is an inheritance that is worth more than anything in this world! 

Friday, March 13, 2020

Master Dreamer

“Here comes that master dreamer!” Genesis 37:19

Joseph’s brothers knew he was special, different, but instead of being drawn to him, they were irritated, jealous of their father’s favor, and wanted to kill him. They stripped Joseph of the multicolored coat their father Israel made, threw him into a cistern and sold him to traders for 20 pieces of silver. 

We are all but too familiar with sibling rivalry and favoritism and the middle child syndrome, but Joseph’s brothers took it to the extreme! Joseph went through so much hardship and trials and challenges, becoming a slave, then ending up in jail for years for doing the right thing. 

All that time, God had a wonderful plan for Joseph. He was walking with Joseph the entire time. He was working behind the scenes. One thing we can learn from Joseph is to trust God! Even if what is happening is totally disappointing, even if people we love fail us and do us wrong,

even if circumstances are worrisome, we must BELIEVE that God will make things right.

We should be confident that God has better things in store for us! God will make our dreams come true if we work with Him to make those dreams come true! We should not allow whatever happened in the past to come and haunt our present! We should know that God will RESTORE what the enemy has destroyed and God wants to do a new thing! God is faithful! Count on it! 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Peace Amid Uncertainty

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. And lying at his gate was a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.” Luke 16:19-21

In Jesus’ story, when Lazarus died, angels carried him away to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man ended up in the place of torment. There was a chasm between where one could not cross. In today’s world, there is also a chasm between the rich and the poor, but it is crossable. If we do not want to end up like the rich man, whom Jesus did not even name, we should make an effort to cross over. 

During this time of uncertainty and confusion, we need to be heedful of those in our society who are more vulnerable. Some people are blessed, they can work from home, but what about the millions who cannot absent themselves from their jobs because their physical presence is necessary, like the salesgirls in our stores?  Yes we provide them with alcohol in the stores. But how do they protect themselves when going to and from work, when they cannot distance themselves from the hoards of people riding jeeps and trains? This bothers me a lot because I think of their children waiting at home. 

Those that have the means, buy alcohol, face masks, and sanitizers off the shelves, not thinking that if there is not enough for everybody, they put themselves in danger as well. I read in my friend’s wall on Facebook that since she does not have the money to panic buy, she will just panic. 

We may not have the answers, but God has the answer. Let us pause, and see this situation with the eyes of faith. St. Paul in Philippians 4:6-7, writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Let us follow St. Paul’s wise advice, so we will have peace in our hearts, and pass on that peace to others. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Servant Heart

“Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.” Matthew 20:26-27

I tease my helper in our house, ate Lucy, that when we get to heaven, I will stay in her house, because I am sure she will have a mansion or a palace in heaven. She is so selfless and her heart is a servant heart. She always puts others first and hardly thinks of herself at all. I know she cannot do all she does without love in her heart. 

If we want to have a servant heart like Jesus, we need love, compassion and mercy in our heart. Otherwise what we do for others will be empty actions. We need to join our heart and will to the heart and will of God. There are so many people who require help in this needy world of ours. How do we even start? We need a listening heart and observant eyes. God usually brings people or situations to our notice, but we have a tendency to ignore them because we are too busy and caught up in our own needs. This Lent, let us take time to be observant, to see what we can do, where we are, with what we have. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Set Things Right

“Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord.” Isaiah 1:18

In the book I am reading, the author Catherine Marshall tells of a retreat she attended. The Pastor said that to set things right with God, they had to relinquish everything and put God first. “Tell God you seriously want to do this and you will be surprised at what He will do.” The participants agreed to meet again to relate what God did in their lives. 

One successful businessman told his story when they got together again. He had this habit of flirting with his secretary but he had never embarked on an affair. He did not think of this as wrong and he did not think he was hurting the young woman he was flattering with his attentions. 

He was aghast when he received several anonymous phone calls calling him an adulterer and accusing him of having an affair. Eventually he received letters in the mail. He told his wife and the City Prosecutor’s Office. The investigators were able to trace the letters to the secretary’s mother. He found out his secretary had been secretly writing love letters to him but never sending them. The mother found them and thought her daughter was having an affair with him. 

He realized that what he thought was innocent on his part was a sin in God’s eyes. He apologized to his secretary and the mother and vowed never to do it again. 

If we are brave enough to set things right with God this Lent, and put Him first, He will show us what we need to give up or change. He wants the best for us and He wants us to live a free and victorious life. Will we let go and let God do what He wants to overhaul in our life? 

Monday, March 09, 2020

God’s Way is Best

“Forgive and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37

If we want to know the Father, we have only to study Jesus’ words. “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” 

No matter how good we want to be, these are all extremely difficult to achieve without the Holy Spirit. I confess that I am a judgmental person, especially when it comes to our government leaders. I usually want to condemn them to hell until I remember to pray for their conversion. We have to remember that being a follower of God does not depend on our emotions and how we feel about things, but it is basically a decision of our will. We can feel that we cannot forgive someone who hurt us, but we can DECIDE to do so. 

No one can teach us more about forgiveness than Corrie ten Boom, who was imprisoned along with her sister Betsie in Ravensbrück, a concentration camp, during the Nazi occupation of Holland. After her horrible experience, she would give talks about Jesus and His forgiveness. One time she recognized a guard from the camp come forward. He said he had become a Christian and wanted to hear it from her lips that he was forgiven. It all came rushing back, her sister dying, this guard's cruelty and now, here he was, asking for absolution.

She put out her hand stiffly, and God flooded her with His love. When it is truly difficult to forgive, we can just take a little step forward, and God will supply the rest. Corrie knew that if she didn't forgive this man, she would remain an invalid for the rest of her life. She saw it in the people she ministered too. Those who remained bitter could not move on with their lives. God’s way is always best. 

Sunday, March 08, 2020


“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.” Matthew 17:5

When we turn our face to Jesus, who do we see? Do we see the resurrected Christ, glorious and victorious? Or do we see the crucified One who gave Himself for us sinners so that one day we may be glorious and victorious? He is one and the same Lord, and Peter, James and John were able to witness His transfiguration on Mount Tabor. 

We all need mountaintop experiences, where we meet God. If we trudge up the mountain every day with our prayer time and scripture reading, for sure God will show us Himself. It may not be like Peter, James and John saw Jesus transfigured, but He will show us His face. We just need to wait upon Him. When God’s presence is so tangible, it cannot help but transform us. 

Before my open heart surgery last December, I felt the grace of God surround me so palpably that I felt no anxiety or fear, only peace. Now, while I am recuperating, even if it is difficult, I am filled with thankfulness because I am surrounded by His love all the time. 

Saturday, March 07, 2020


“You are to be a people peculiarly His own, as He promised you.” Deuteronomy 26:18

Does God have favorites? In 1582, St. Teresa and her companions left Ávila to establish convents in Burgos and Grenada. It was extremely hard going, the rivers were so high and they could not see the road. They decided to leave their carriage and proceed on foot. The current was so strong that St. Teresa lost her footing, and was on the point of being carried away when our Lord helped her. 

“Oh, my Lord!” she exclaimed, with her usual loving familiarity, “when will You cease from scattering obstacles in our path?” “Do not complain, daughter,” the Lord answered her, “for this is how I treat My friends.” “Ah, Lord, it is also on that account that You have so few!” was her reply.

Choosing to follow God is costly. Loving God is a decision to commit our life to Him. The first and greatest commandment is to love Him with all our heart, all our mind, all our soul and all our strength. When we make that choice, we choose good and we choose life. Our life may be difficult and uncomfortable, but the truth is that we can always depend on the promises of God. It will always be worth it to follow God who chose us first to be peculiarly His own.

Friday, March 06, 2020

In Silence

“Out of the depths, I cry to You, O Lord; Lord hear my voice!” Psalm 130:1

We do not need to shout, we do not need a bullhorn or megaphone so that God can hear us. He can hear our whispers, our whimpers, and the more contrite and humble we are, the louder our prayers are to Him. Sometimes our silence resonates more than our words. 

Mother Teresa said, “In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

Can we be silent this Lent? So that God can fill us with Himself? I think that is something to look forward to. Streams of living water. An inexpressible and glorious joy. An overflow of hope. A time of refreshment. We can look forward to all of these.