Sunday, December 05, 2021

Advent

A voice of one is calling out, “Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness [remove the obstacles]; Make straight and smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged places a broad valley. (Isaiah 40:3-4, Amplified Bible)




Every Christmas, ever since I can remember, my father would play George Frideric Handel’s Messiah and we grew up listening to the rich and glorious oratorio of one of the greatest composers who ever lived. The Messiah begins with a mournful string overture, then a tenor sings the words of Isaiah 40. “Comfort Ye, comfort Ye my people, saith your God...The voice of him that cries in the wilderness; prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God...” 


The first time Handel’s Messiah was presented was for Easter 1742 in Dublin. There was a record breaking 700 attendees as the management had pleaded with the ladies not to wear “hoops” with their gowns so more could enter. It was not only Handel’s music that drew the crowd but many came to see and hear Susannah Cibber, the contralto, who was then the object of many wagging tongues for her part in a scandalous divorce. After many soloists and the chorus, it was Cibber’s turn and as she sang from Isaiah 53:3, “He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” so affected was the Rev. Patrick Delany that he leapt to his feet and cried out: "Woman, for this be all thy sins forgiven thee!"


This Advent is the perfect time to see our life in the light of God’s love for us. Are we living the way our loving, eternal Father wants us to live, and has planned for us? Sometimes we see it is impossible to make low our mountain of sin, our selfishness, arrogance, lack of charity. It seems beyond our capability to make our path straight instead of the crooked, messy, rocky byroad we’ve made for ourselves. But we should not be discouraged or hopeless. God can make a way where there is no way. As long as we pray, and ask God for His help, we can be sure just like St. Paul: “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)


Saturday, December 04, 2021

This is the Way

“This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21





There is a well known poem by Robert Frost, which ends with : “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”


In our life, we encounter many roads and paths. If we choose some roads, we travel with many people. Some are not so popular, and choosing to traverse them takes courage and determination. It is not uncommon today that when we stand up for what is right, we speak up against the majority, we get ridiculed and even lambasted. But how do we know if we are on the right path? How do we make sure we are making good decisions? 


If only God would walk beside us all day long and tell us, “This is the way; walk in it.” But in God’s goodness and wisdom, He allows us to choose. He allows us to make mistakes and thereby learn. But I believe that if we keep talking to Him throughout the day, asking Him to guide us in what to do, how to say things, where to go, what road to choose, we will eventually learn to hear Him say, “This is the way, walk in it.” I am very sure God brought me to my Christian community. It is as sure as if He said to me, “This is your community. Live their way of life.” I am also 100% confident that God chose Luigi for me as a husband. God is very creative in how He chooses to speak to us, and if we ask, we will receive His answers. 


Just as if we want to be proficient in calligraphy, we have to keep practicing, we have to “practice” listening to God. If we want to be a good singer, dancer, violinist, chef, financial analyst, doctor, etc., we have to put time and effort into learning and improving. Learning to listen to God is the same. We need to take the time to be quiet, to deliberately tune out the cacophony of the world, in order to hear His “still, small voice.” It is not easy. Some people struggle praying for 5 minutes. But what a blessed reward we receive when one day we hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” or even, “That is not the way! Don’t go there!” 

Friday, December 03, 2021

Look Back, Look Around, Look Forward

“Do you believe that I can do this?” 

Matthew 9:28




Jesus asked the two blind men in Matthew 9:27-31, “Do you believe I can do this?" or in another version, “Do you trust that I am able to do this for you?” And they say to him, “Certainly, Lord.”


“Do you believe I can make you see, restore your sight?" And the two blind men answered, “Yes, Lord!" And he touched their eyes and they could see.


Do WE believe God can do the impossible in OUR life? Even when the odds are insurmountable, even when the doctor's report is bad, even if we can’t pay our rent, even if there’s another variant of COVID that could cause another lockdown, even if the hospital bill is enormous, even if we lose a loved one? So much misery and pain in the world today. I just heard in the news how a 15 year old brought a gun to Oxford High School and killed 4 students. He is now charged with terrorism and murder. His parents may be charged too. What are we to think of all these ugly tragedies in our world? How do we make sense of it?


What I know is all throughout the ages there has always been terrible suffering, and people who are “alert to do evil” as it says in Isaiah 29:20, our first reading for today. But we are not to be dismayed or distracted by all the work of tyrants and those who subvert justice. The message of Advent is one of hope. We need to look back at all the  ancient promises of God for a Saviour and how He fulfilled His promise on Calvary. 


We also need to be vigilant and look for His presence among us today. There is so much to be grateful for. He shows us His face in our brothers and sisters who love and support us, in our neighborhoods and communities, our workplaces, and schools. The more we give, the more we are given. That is the economy of God. 


But most of all, we need to look forward to the day when He will come again in glory. He will wipe every tear from our eye. Let us rejoice in Him who is preparing a rich banquet for all who believe in Him, and who obey Him. Why do we believe? Because He said it in His Word: “When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:3). Because He fulfilled His promises in the past, we know He will keep His promise for the future. 




Build on Rock

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” Matthew 7:24




The story of two men, one who built his house on rock, and the foolish one who built his house on sand has been retold again and again. When the rains and the floods came, the wise man's house was still standing but alas, the house built on sand collapsed and was washed away.


More and more families are moving to coastal communities. The thing is because of climate change, the homes built there are at even graver risk. When mega storms hit, families have to be forcefully evacuated. Strong rains can wash away homes and bring so much devastation. Houses by the beach are always in danger of beach erosion. 


In our life, we need to listen and act on the word of God so that our life is built on a strong foundation. Otherwise, strong winds and rains, challenges like sickness, loss of our job, addictions, this present pandemic, etc. can destroy us! We do not want to be like the foolish man, and so we must try every day to read the Word of God, to embed it in our hearts, and to practice it!


Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Miracles Start With You

“How many loaves do you have?" Matthew 15:34




In the 15th chapter of Matthew, Jesus sees the crowd following him, and his heart is moved with pity. He says, “I do not want to send them away hungry, for fear they may collapse on the way.” His disciples were dismayed and wondered, “Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?”


We would say the same, don't you think? In the 8th chapter of Mark, there were about 4000 people. The disciples asked the same thing, but with less incredulity. "How are we supposed to find enough food for them here in the wilderness?"


Undaunted, Jesus asked them, “How many loaves of bread do YOU have?" And they answered they just had 7 loaves and a few fish. Too little to feed the crowd! 


I like these passages about the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, because it shows that miracles START with what we have in our hand. What we have available. I always remember when our little group giving the Good News in QC Jail was asked by the prison administrator to prepare 200 gift bags for the inmates for Christmas. I was just as incredulous as the disciples! How would we do that? But that Christmas we were able to prepare 300 bags! And what a wonderful sight to behold the inmates' faces as they opened their bags to find a pair of shorts, food, shampoo, laundry soap, etc. They told us it was like they received 2 bags! It was more than they expected! And we were able to do this for several years until the pandemic put a stop to the visits to the jail. I know many of my friends who just give what is in their hand. And God is able to use that and multiply it!


How many loaves do YOU have? Put it in God's hand and see miracles!

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Fishers of Men

“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19




Jesus’ choice of a motley band of ordinary men to be his disciples can be very reassuring for us "ordinary" men and women. He chose a fisherman, Andrew, who recognized Jesus as the Messiah and hastened to introduce Him to his brother Peter. Then there's James and John, nicknamed (perhaps fondly by Jesus) as Boanerges or sons of thunder because they were impetuous and wanted to rain fire upon some villagers who refused them accommodation. Philip did not pass Jesus' test question of how to feed the five thousand. Nathaniel was initially skeptical of Jesus, scoffing, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"


Matthew was a despised tax collector who went on to write one of the Gospels. Then there's Thomas, forever famous or infamous for doubting and needing proof before believing. James is most known for being Jesus' "brother", or cousin by Catholic tradition. Jude Thaddeus wrote one of the epistles, and asked Jesus at the Last Supper why He showed Himself to them but not to the whole world. Simon is known as a Zealot (or a political radical). And we all know what Judas Iscariot did!


We don't have to be extraordinary for Jesus to choose us! He chose us in spite of our weaknesses, idiosyncracies, and failures! He knows each one of us and gives us chance after chance to turn back to Him, to be fed by His Word like the apostles. He knows we are weak, that we deny Him (even more than 3 times!), that we doubt, are skeptical sometimes, and even betray Him. But as long as we repent, turn back to Him, we can continue with grace, and finish the journey with Him in victory!

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Best Gift

“Brothers and sisters: May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12




Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Most of us miss Advent and go straight to Christmas. My husband was a stickler for observing Advent when we got married, and I could not put up a Christmas tree till really late in December. But the ‘advent’ of our son Josh changed that, and we put up the tree for the little boy who was fascinated with the lights.


But Advent and Christmas are not all about the decor, the lights, the gifts, the food, but more about what goes on in our hearts. We are in an in-between time, in between Christ’s first coming when He arrived as a babe in a manger, and His second coming. We do not know when Christ will come again. Meanwhile, we are to be watchful, ready, and waiting. Jesus likens us to servants waiting for the master who has gone on a long journey. The master has placed his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to keep watch over the property. What is our work, do you think? Is it to be a mother, a teacher, a garbage collector, a chef, a congressman, a businessman? Whatever our role is in society, we need to do that to the best of our ability, using all the resources and gifts God has given us. But when our Master left, He gave us clear instructions to be good stewards of all these material blessings. We need to build His Kingdom here on earth. Before He left, He ordered, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” If we’re a mother, we need to spread the gospel in our children’s hearts and minds. We need to be an example of love and generosity to all we meet. If we’re a manager, a teacher, a cook, etc., we need to be vigilant, and offer to God the best Christmas gift of all, ourselves! 




Saturday, November 27, 2021

When Anxiety Knocks

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life…” Luke 21:34




I don't know why but it is so much easier to dwell on the negative. To be anxious about the future. To go over and over thoughts about what CAN happen from here to eternity!!!


In one of Bo Sanchez’ talks, he said, "If we can control our thoughts, we can control our destiny!"


Do you know where the main battle for our lives begins? In our minds! Our minds are target practice for the enemy who wants us to succumb to fear, anxiety, temptation, depression, loneliness, feelings of incompetence, failure, insecurity....The list goes on and on.


When fear knocks, 

we should let faith open the door.

When anxiety knocks,

 we should let faith open the door.

When insecurity, inadequacy,  knocks, 

we should let _________ open the door!!!


Many people, young and old, have panic attacks, especially these days. Some things that have helped are prayer, keeping a gratitude journal, counting our blessings, and reaching out for help. I confess when this pandemic started and all our stores had to close, I had some anxiety attacks and I could feel my heart palpitate. Where would we get the money to help our employees survive if we did not have income from our sales? What can we do to keep going? The questions with no answers just kept piling up. I told my sisters and we decided to pray together every day. It helped immensely. We continue to pray together at 9 am, and I am so grateful God has shown His presence in our lives through this challenging time.  Tomorrow as we begin the season of Advent, let us be more conscious of the need to set aside time for Him who is Lord over all.


2 Timothy 1:7 says we are not given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a disciplined mind! So let's take control of our thoughts, and have faith in a loving God  who wants to favor us with His blessing!

Friday, November 26, 2021

My Words Will Not Pass Away

 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will not pass away." Luke 21:33




It will be my birthday in a few days, and whenever one has a birthday, one marvels at the passage of time. I remember that I was traumatized about turning 25! But now I am happy about being a Senior Citizen! I am even excited about the end of the world, and hope I witness it. But what does "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will not pass away" mean? Surely it means that things are sure to change and keep changing, but God's Word stands forever.


My grandfather, DD Alejandro, was appointed DISTRICT EVANGELIST for Bulacan and Nueva Ecija in August 1915. He became editor of the Tagalog monthly "Mabuting Balita" (Good News) and an instructor in Union Theological Seminary. In 1924, he became the Pastor of Knox Methodist Episcopal Church. Then he was elected the first Filipino Bishop of the Methodist Church in the Philippines during the Japanese occupation!


When he studied Philosophy in Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, I can imagine him in the library pouring over hundreds of books. When he became editor, he would have written his articles on a trusty old typewritter. As an evangelist, I suppose he would have had to walk through countless dusty roads and knock on doors. But today, his granddaughter, sits at her computer, and can read and listen to so many sermons and preachings from evangelists dead and alive, and attend prayer meetings around the world, on YouTube and podcasts. If I write, I can reach many people through a click of a mouse that will transport my words and pictures through my blog, FB and IG posts across the seas in seconds! 


Isn't it amazing how the world has changed? But in the midst of all this change and turmoil, we can depend on one thing, the Word of God stands sure. “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8

Thursday, November 25, 2021

End of the World

“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” Luke 21:25-28




When you see someone carrying a sign, “The end is near", or hear some man preaching about "the end of the world is at hand", what is our reaction? Do we scoff and say, "What a loony?" I have to confess I get excited! I do! I get excited that I'll see my mom and dad again. I get relieved that I won't have to think about all the horrible things happening in the world today that I can't do much about. People lonely in the hospital without their family around them because they’re sick of COVID, hungering for the touch of a hand, or even to see a face, because the people that treat them are all wrapped up in protective gear. Blatant corruption aided and abetted by people in the government who should have prioritized taking care of the health of our people and our ailing economy. A Presidential campaign marked by insults and fake news and absurd maneuvering of the political dynasties. The thing is we don't have to wait for the world to end. 


Our world will end. One day. That's inevitable. Is it possible to be ready, to be prepared, every day for God's coming? We don't have to be prepared for the Second Coming. God comes into our life every day! In the form of a little child. A beggar. Someone who is sick. Someone who is depressed. How do we respond?

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Most Selfish Thing to Do

“Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared, writing on the plaster of the wall in the king’s palace.” Daniel 5:5




Many odd things happen in Bible stories, and this one in the book of Daniel is one of them. King Belshazzar, the son of Nebuchadnezzar, held a feast. He was drunk with wine and power and ordered the holy vessels his father had stolen from the Temple in Jerusalem, to be brought out from storage. He and his guests then used the gold and silver chalices for drinking wine. While drinking, they praised gods of their own making, gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone. 


Eerily, the fingers of a human hand appeared out of thin air, and started writing words on the wall. “MENE, TEKEL, PERES,” was inscribed, and the king shivered, his face turned white, as did his guests. Then he called for Daniel the prophet to interpret the words. Daniel said, “You have rebelled against the Lord of heaven. The God in whose hand is your life breath and the whole course of your life, you did not glorify. You have been found wanting.” 


Poor King Belshazzar had wealth beyond his wildest dreams. He had so much power which he could have used to help his people. But he didn’t do that. That night, God took his life. 


I was listening to the speech the actor Denzel Washington gave in 2015 to the graduates of Dillard University. He said they should always put God first in everything they do. He proclaimed that everything he has, everything he accomplished in his life, was by the grace of God. He told the story that when he was young and was starting to make it as an actor, he asked his mom, “Mom, did you think this was going to happen? I’d be so big and I’ll be able to take care of everybody and I can do this and I can do that.” Then his mom shushed him and corrected him, “Boy, stop it right there, stop! If you only knew how many people been praying for you!” She had asked so many groups to pray for him, even splashed him with holy water to protect him from evil! 


One thing Denzel said was that you never see a U-haul behind a hearse because no matter how much money you’ve amassed, how many mansions you’ve built or bought, how much jewelry or bitcoins or gold bullion you have, you’ll never be able to take it with you. 


He emphasized that the most selfish thing we can do is help others. The more we help others, the more successful we are. There’s joy in it, there’s satisfaction, plus we add to our treasure in heaven! Better to follow Denzel’s advice than King Belshazzar’s example! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Never Be Destroyed

“…the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed...” Daniel 2:44




Daniel was asked to interpret King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and he told the King that another Kingdom will take the place of his, then another kingdom, then another kingdom, and another until all these worldly kingdoms will end. But the Kingdom that God will set up will stand forever. 


We do not set up kingdoms, but we do try to save for the future, build homes, set up trust funds, build investments, buy land, gold, establish businesses, etc. This is all well and good but do we also prepare for the Kingdom to come? Do we build our treasure in heaven, knowing that we will never be able to keep whatever we have on earth? We can only have what we give away to God’s work. That is how we invest in the Kingdom which will stand forever. 


We should not only stake our money in God’s Kingdom, but our time, and effort. We should also pursue relationships. Imagine praying for someone lost who finally found Jesus? We will see them in the everlasting Kingdom! All our efforts at building God’s Kingdom will never be wasted! 

Monday, November 22, 2021

Generosity is a Kingdom Value

 “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” Luke 21:1-4




The story of the Widow's Mite should be very reassuring for all of us. Imagine if how much we gave was the measure of our pleasing God? Then would not Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have the biggest chance of making God happy even if they gave a mere 1/1000th of their wealth? As it is, ALL OF US can and should try to make God happy.


Jesus was watching the poor widow as she put her 2 small coins. It didn't matter to Him that what she sacrificed was equivalent to a few minutes of work at minimum wage. What was important was He saw her heart. He saw her faith in action, that she knew she had a rich Father in heaven who would take care of her. 


The same story in Mark 12:41 reads “..and he saw HOW the people put the money into the treasury.” The “how” (pos) in this passage means “in what way.” We should remember Jesus is also watching when we make our check to give our tithes, when we give alms, when we give our time for God’s work. It matters not the amount. It matters what is in our heart. William Barclay said “The amount of the gift never matters so much as its cost to the giver, not the size of the gift but the sacrifice.”


Yesterday was Christ the King Sunday, instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 in response to the secularism, the atheistic and totalitarian regimes of that time.


Christ came to establish His Kingdom. His Kingdom is not like the Kingdoms of this world. People admire philanthropists who give millions to charity. Would they see, like Jesus, the poor widow who gave 2 copper coins? Would they laud her for it? Mother Teresa was always praising the poor she served. She had witnessed first hand how they were generous with the little that they had. When she would give rice and food, either the mother or a child would run out with half of what Mother Teresa brought, to share with another destitute family. Generosity is a Kingdom value. If we want Jesus to reign in our hearts, we have to have him reign over our wallets and checkbooks as well!




Sunday, November 21, 2021

Family Business



“My kingdom does not belong to this world.” John 18:36




I have been working in our family business since I was 11 years old. We always say our business is a miracle. So it is. It was started by my mom with no capital. One could say she had more common sense than business sense. And it is being managed by a family with more creative inclinations than business savvy. During this time of pandemic it is surviving by the grace of God! Every day my sisters and I get together to pray for God’s provision, guidance and mercy! It is truly by God’s kindness and plan that we were able to pivot to online selling via Shopee, Lazada and shop.papemelroti.com. 


But there is another business that is even more of a miracle, one billion more times a miracle! More than 2000 years ago, the Father left the business to His Son (1 Cor. 15:24-28). And the Son had to learn everything in 30 years, and pass it on to all sorts of ordinary people. Fishermen, tax collectors, even prostitutes, lepers and blind men who were healed, followed Him and learned His way. He invited them to invest, to commit themselves to this amazing business plan, and to advertise the business and spread the Word.


It is a business that will never fail, never go bankrupt, and you don't have to be rich or smart, popular or beautiful to be a part of it! It's not easy, because to share in the Family business, you have to carry your own cross just as the Son did on one amazing Friday that changed the whole game plan. The great thing about this business is there is a manual of instructions, a guide to read and follow. 


If we join this business wholeheartedly, and obey the manual, there is the promise of victory and blessing (Dt. 28:1-2) And if we continue to be faithful, the retirement plan is out of this world!


Father, thank You for this chance to invest in Your Kingdom which is not of this world, to have riches that cannot be taken away! 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

God of the Living

"He is not God of the dead but of the living, for to Him all are alive." Luke 20:38




Do we really realize that 100% of us, with no exception, are going to die? This body which we take so much care of, is decaying, even as we breathe.


St. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 4:8, "For bodily exercise and discipline is of some value, but Godliness and spiritual training is profitable, has value for all things in every way, for it holds promise for the present but also for the life to come."


I can't help comparing the time we spend for our bodies (eating, dressing up, putting on make-up, buying clothes and shoes, exercising, etc.) with the time we spend tending our spirits. Our body is not who we are. When we take care of our body, we are taking care of a temporary thing, a decaying thing. But when we take care of our spirits, we take care of the eternal. C.S. Lewis wrote the memorable words: “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal….But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”


Jesus, as He was on the cross, called out, "Father, into Your hands, I commit my Spirit." To commit means to entrust for safekeeping. Jesus didn't say, "I commit my body", because He knew He would get a brand new one as He did when He rose from the dead. It was so easy for His Father to gloriously recreate Jesus’ mangled and bloody body, just as He will for us one day.


Do we spend more time taking care of our physical bodies than we do for our true selves, our spirits? Let's take stock of our priorities!!! Of course we prefer one day to be an everlasting splendor and not an immortal horror! Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit! 

Friday, November 19, 2021

House of Prayer

“My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” Luke 19:46




Jesus is quoting from Isaiah 56:7, “...for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations”, and Jeremiah 7:11, “Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you?” He was very angry to find that the thieves and robbers which usually infested the dens and caves of Judea were cheating and defrauding people in the Temple area! They were taking advantage of the poor who came to give their sacrifice offerings to God. Their exchange rate was usurious and their doves and sheep were exorbitantly priced. The poor pilgrims visiting the Temple from far away were being cheated. 


If Jesus was zealous about the physical structure in Jerusalem, how much more would He be zealous about the temple of our bodies? “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” (1 Cor. 6:19)


When Jesus comes to visit, what does He find in our hearts? Is it a house of prayer? Of the study of His Word? Will He be pleased that we love the people He loves, and take care of them, the poor, the hungry, the downtrodden? Or will He react in righteous anger and want to throw out the idols that have replaced Him in our hearts? Will He find that instead of our King and Lord on the throne, we have set up ourselves instead? 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Come Lord Jesus!

“…you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:44




In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, we learn that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us and was given to us by God. We do not belong to ourselves. God bought us with a high price. So we must honor God with your bodies. How? Just as Jesus ejected the traders in the Jerusalem Temple, so too we should keep the temple of our bodies clean of anything that would anger the Lord.


In Amy Tan’s book, ‘The Kitchen God’s Wife’, she describes all the the cleaning, wiping, washing, and throwing out done by the household before Chinese New Year. Not a single speck of dust from the old year could remain for the new year! As Advent approaches, now would be a good time for cleaning up the temple of the Lord. 


Here in the Philippines, we usually skip Advent and go straight to Christmas. But when we expect an important person to visit our home, isn’t it but natural that we take some time to look around and evaluate what needs to be cleaned, fixed or removed? That’s what Advent is, a time of anticipation and expectation certainly, but also a time of preparation. Advent comes from the Latin ‘Adventus’, which means ‘coming’. We prepare for the visitation of the Lord into our lives on Christmas, the special season of grace. We also await His second coming in glory. 


I have to admit it is hard for me to keep in mind that Advent is like Lent in a way. We are supposed to devote more time to prayer, scripture reading, lighting the Advent wreath, sharing our blessings, and even fasting. 


We can read in the Cathechism of the Catholic Church (524): “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior's first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for His second coming.” 


So before we spend so much of our time shopping, wrapping gifts, partying, decorating our homes and cooking, let us first make sure our temple is ready for our Lord’s visitation. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus, come! 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Apple of His Eye

“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 17:8




I think we can never know how much God loves us, not until we reach heaven, our real home. I see how God prepared a special place for Adam and Eve. How beautiful the garden must have been! Out of all the fragrant and delicious fruits in the garden, the forbidden one caught Eve's eye. God prepared an equally beautiful place for us here on earth. Just like Adam and Eve, we continue to make wrong choices. Out of all the amazing things we have to do, we also choose the wrong ones. Instead of praying first thing in the morning, we open Facebook. Instead of reading the Bible, we watch a telenovela. Instead of encouraging someone, we gossip. Instead of forgiving or asking for forgiveness, we harden our hearts.


But does God condemn us? No. He loves us more. He comes nearer. He does not love us because we are perfect. He loves us because we are His sons and daughters. Peter probably committed the greatest sin. He denied Jesus 3 times and left Him at a time when Jesus was so alone. And Peter didn't have the chance to say, "I'm sorry. Please forgive me."


Did God give up on Peter? In Mark 16:7, after the women found Jesus' tomb empty, an angel instructed them, "Go tell His disciples AND PETER, He is going ahead of you to Galilee. There you will see Him just as He told you." Out of all the disciples, Peter was singled out for this message. Whenever we sin, whenever we believe we fall short of what we believe God wants us to do or be, we should remember this. God never condemns. He calls us closer.


In Zechariah 2:8, we read, "He that touches you, touches the apple of His eye." "Apple" is translated from the Hebrew for "little man" or "pupil" of the eye. Consider how protected the pupil is- hemmed in by our eyelids, our eyelashes, and our eyebrows. So is God the Father's love for us. We are protected, hedged, guarded, looked after. Thank you Lord for Your amazing, inconceivable love!

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

God Shaped Hole

“Zaccheus, hurry and come down...”  

Luke 19:5




We must never give up on people, and we must never ever give up on ourselves. Just one touch, one call from Jesus can change everything. No matter how bad, selfish, or arrogant a person is, there’s a God shaped hole in all of us that only God can fill. Hurting people are those that most need Him, especially when they are intentionally mean, insensitive, or cruel. 


Zaccheus was sort of a comic character. He was of short stature and had to clamber up a tree to see Jesus. He was the chief tax collector in Jesus’ day and he was very rich. That meant that he was corrupt, mean and insensitive to people’s plight. But that God-shaped hole inside him yearned for something, someONE! When Jesus was passing through his town, Zaccheus ran on ahead and climbed the sycamore tree, forgetting his dignity, the better to see Jesus. 


“Zaccheus, come down,” Jesus called, “I must stay at your house.” Did Jesus really say that? I must stay in your heart and fill that gaping hole where only I belong! You don’t have to go searching anymore for what you need. You don’t have to keep harassing people, and amassing wealth. I will teach You that I am your treasure. I am your joy. 


So if there’s anyone we know, insecure, grasping, cursing all the time, threatening, or bullying us or someone we know, let us pray. Get plenty of people to pray that Jesus will call him down from that lonely tree and fill his heart with what he needs. He may become like funny Zaccheus and turn his life around and follow Jesus! Nothing is impossible with God! 

Monday, November 15, 2021

God in a Box

“Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” Luke 18:37




We don't need to be in church to hear God or see His hand in our life. Many of us box God in. We only take Him out on a Sunday, during mass, during a prayer meeting, where we sing our hearts out in worship.


But what about the rest of the week? When we have to make decisions? Do we put God before all our responsibilities at home and at work? Do we make time for God in our schedule?  In our priorities? 


I remember when my son was young and he did not want to join the youth camp of our community. He asked me, "Don't I have a choice, mom?" I answered, "You do! You have a choice whether to enjoy it or not!" It's the same with us. We don't have a choice about God being sovereign, about His presence in our life. But we DO have a choice whether we work WITH Him or fight Him!

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Path to Life

“You will show me the path to life, fullness of joy in Your presence...” Psalm 16:11




The reason why I like waking up early is because every morning God meets me where I am and shows me more of His “path to life”. There is so much in Scriptures one cannot see at first reading. The Bible used to bore me and I could not spend even 5 minutes reading it. I suppose it was a case of “pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6), and it took years for my eyes to open to see not only the strands of pearls, but the many treasures in the Old and New Testaments. 


In the Gospel reading for today, Mark 13:24-32, Jesus says, “Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When it’s branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you will know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that He is near at the gates.” Jesus was speaking of signs of His coming again. One of the signs is widespread apostasy, or abandoning faith in God. We see that today everywhere! 


In II Timothy 3:1-5, St. Paul writes, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”


In I Thessalonians 5:2-3, we read, “For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,' destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” 


Reading the Bible can be fascinating. It’s like a treasure hunt, but it’s a real live hunting down of clues to get real treasure at the end of our life on earth. The amazing things Indiana Jones found are nothing compared to the treasures in store for us who believe in Jesus and follow Him! 

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Pray Without Ceasing


“Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.” Luke 18:1




When I was pregnant with Josh, I was filled with anxiety. I was 38 years old, and I entertained fears about whether my baby would be born normal. I had spotting, pre-eclampsia, and pains in my pelvic region. And the baby would have spasms of what would turn out to be bouts of hiccups.


Because of my anxiety, I would nag God, and “pray without ceasing". Then I felt God say to me, “Patsy, when you hold your baby in your arms, you will know how much I love you." True enough, my delivery was super quick, and almost painless. And more importantly, Josh was a normal, healthy baby. 


When Joshua arrived, he had a big nose and even bigger ears. My mom was so dismayed that she nagged God to make Joshua cute. And after a few days, Josh was the cutest baby ever!


There are many times in our life that give us anxiety, fear, grief, or pain. We go through many challenges. But if we HOPE in God, 'pray without ceasing', and trust that God always wants the best for us, ALL our troubles will turn into JOY!


“When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world.” (John 16:20-23)


Now, we are praying about the 2022 campaign and elections. Our country is in one of the darkest times of our history, with our economy in shambles, so many businesses closed, a sorry number of people with no jobs, corruption scandals left and right during a pandemic when the health of our people should be the priority. Will God give us a miracle? I believe He will if we pray without ceasing. We will never be disappointed if we put our Hope in Him. (Isaiah 49:23)