Friday, September 30, 2022

Fearfully, Wonderfully Made

“Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb. I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made!" Psalm 139:13-14

This is one of my favorite verses. We can see the love God has for us when we consider how careful He was in designing our home, the earth. The size of the earth is so perfect to sustain life with gravity holding a thin 50 mile layer of gases. Just a little smaller or larger, and the earth would not have the atmosphere needed for animals, and plants to live. The earth is also a perfect distance from the sun so we won’t burn up nor freeze. There are so many other details that our Creator was so fussy about just so we would have this amazing planet to live on. 

And how about our bodies? Truly, we are all fearfully, wonderfully made! I am always in awe at how God was very particular when He formed us in our mother's womb.

Even the hairs on our head are counted! Our eyelashes and eyebrows serve a purpose- they protect our eyes from dust and sweat and other foreign objects.

And the philtrum, the inconspicuous indentation above our upper lip, allows us more lip movement than if we did not have it! Then there’s the nose which serves as a filter, heater and humidifier! And one of the most amazing parts of our body is our skin, which we can clean up when we dirty it. When we look at a baby, we marvel at how God took great care in forming him or her, down to the cute miniature fingers and toes!  Indeed, how can we doubt the love God has for each of us? 

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Journey with God

“I saw you under the fig tree.” John 1:48

This is what Jesus said of Nathanael. “Sitting under a fig tree" is a rabbinical idiom used frequently by the Jews in Jesus' time. It meant that Nathanael would meditate on the Torah. Jesus was pointing out the good that Nathanael did. 

A lot of people have the impression that God is a stern taskmaster who is out to catch us sinning. But we can get to know God’s character by getting to know Jesus. After all, He said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)

In the Gospels we meet a God who is multifaceted and not one dimensional. Getting to know Jesus is not a quick DIY project but a lifetime of discovery and adventure with the King of Kings Himself. When we embark on this journey, we are not alone. We not only get to know Him, but we get to know ourselves as God sees us. 

Nathanael believed and followed Jesus, and because of this, Jesus promised: “Greater things than these, you will see.” (John 1:50) Lord, we want to experience everything You have for us. We don’t want to miss out! Bring me on the journey with You! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

I Will Follow You

“I will follow you wherever you go.” Luke 9:57

Today is the Feast Day of San Lorenzo Ruiz, our first Filipino saint, and I chose to make a digital collage of his journey to sainthood. 

Poor San Lorenzo, he is beset by bags under his eyes! But that is the least of his problems! San Lorenzo was martyred for his faith. He was asked: "If we let you live, will you renounce your faith?"

And Saint Lorenzo Ruiz answered: “That I shall never do because I am a Christian and I shall die for God, and for Him I will give many thousands of lives if I had them. And so do with me as you please."

He and his companions in Japan were tortured, hung by their feet and submerged in water, needles pressed between their fingernails, beaten, etc. He died professing His love for God.

I pray that none of us will be tested like that, but that in our daily lives, we may find the strength and courage to follow God, to be His disciples.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Notice Me!

“The Son of Man came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

How wonderful that there is a record of Jesus’ instructions and stories that we can read and read again. If we want to obey God, to learn about Him and His ways, we can do nothing better than to ponder His words and follow them. For instance, we should know how important alms giving is. It has an impact on where we will spend our eternal life. 

Jesus explains that what we do for the poor, we do for Him. When Taal Volcano was acting up, many people gave clothes, shoes, and other things. It was so sad because some of the things donated were very old, and could not be used anymore. And winter clothes and snow boots were useless to the refugees. Mother Teresa always said do not give our left overs to the poor, that we should not treat the poor like a garbage bag and give what we have no use for. We should be ashamed of ourselves if we gave Jesus, the King of Kings, an old rag to clothe Himself! 

St. Vincent de Paul, whose feast day we celebrate today, dedicated his life serving the poor. He wrote, “You will find that charity is a heavy burden to carry, heavier than the bowl of soup and the full basket ... It is not enough to give soup and bread ... You are the servant of the poor ... They are your masters, terribly sensitive and exacting you will see. It is only for your love alone that the poor will forgive you the bread you give them.”

I was listening to an online retreat, and the lady speaker said that when we give alms to someone on the street, we should not just give and walk away, we should speak to them and ask their name. That way, we don’t just give them something to eat, we give them some dignity and care. H. Jackson Brown wrote in his “Life’s Little Instruction Book”, "Remember that everyone you meet is wearing a sign. It reads, 'Notice me. Make me feel important." 

Monday, September 26, 2022

Speak Up

“Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.” Luke 9:48

Robert Seiple, the President of World Vision in 1992, wrote in a letter, “One of our sponsored children, a 14 year old Palestinian boy living on the West Bank, was caught by 16 Israeli soldiers as he was writing graffiti on a wall. The soldiers placed him up against the wall, and one shot him four times in the eye. As he lay on the ground, still alive, he was savagely beaten for almost an hour. During that time he was forced to stick his finger into his wound and wipe out the graffiti with his own blood. He was then bound and dragged through the village streets; finally thrown into the back of a jeep, and rudely dumped at a local hospital. Miraculously, he lived. Tragically this incident is not atypical. The entire drama was witnessed by an American. It has since been recorded in Western journals.”

This is just one horrible story among the millions of stories of children whose lives have been maimed by poverty, violence, abuse, and neglect. We do not need to look far. Fr. Shay Cullen wrote that there are an “estimated two million children in the Philippines sexually abused and exploited by parents and relatives in the online internet child abuse business. It grew during the pandemic lockdowns when members of the family turned to sexually abuse their children for sexual satisfaction of their urges and videotaped it and made money from selling the images to foreign pedophiles.”

I believe that Jesus is saying that children are among the most unprotected, the most voiceless, the most “unseen” members of society. They can easily become victims, especially during war, natural calamities, or when parents are quarrelling, working too hard, or are OFWs in far away places. In the verses before verse 36, Jesus was instructing the disciples on how to be great. The logic of God is always different from the world’s, usually diametrically opposed even. If anyone of us wants to be great, we have to be a servant of those who are unprotected, those who have no voice, and those who are “unseen” by society. Proverbs 31:8 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”

Lord, Your Words are hard to take. It is as if we have to carry the whole world on our shoulders! Help us to do the work You want us to do, to be Your heart, Your hands, Your feet. I know that it can never be enough, but if many of us take just one portion of the ache of the world for You, it can change the world! 

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Lazarus at our Gate

“Lying at the rich man’s gate was a poor man named Lazarus covered with sores.” 

Luke 16:20

Is there a Lazarus at our gate? 

Many of us live our lives with no thought of heaven and hell, angels or devils. We forget about all that, in the busyness, the stress of everyday life. We may get reminded if we go to mass or a prayer meeting, if we’re paying attention, and not allowing our mind to wander around. 

Here we have Jesus telling a story to the Pharisees. There is a very rich man who is UNNAMED, he says. Lying at his door is Lazarus, a poor man covered with sores that the dogs would lick. When Lazarus died, he was carried away by angels to heaven. When the rich man died, he went straight to hell. What was his sin? Jesus did not say he stole, he lied, he cheated, he murdered, he committed adultery. What sent him to hell? The unnamed rich man ignored Lazarus at his doorstep. He went about his life wearing fine garments and eating good food and did not bother to help Lazarus. 

When I ignore the needs of others around me, I am that rich man who is nameless in Jesus’ eyes. In His reckoning, He does not know me, even if the world gives me plenty of awards and citations. Even if I am powerful and rich and famous, Jesus will say, “I do not know you.”

“I never knew you. Depart from Me,” Jesus said clearly in Matthew 7:21-23. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the Kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Let us make sure Jesus knows our name, by opening our eyes to see the world around us, paying attention to the needs and the cries of the poor, the sick, the hungry, the ones in prison. When we help them, let us make sure to ask their names. After all, Jesus knows and loves them.

Saturday, September 24, 2022


Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” Psalm 90:12

When Solomon was young, God asked him to ask for anything he wanted, and out of all the things he could choose, Solomon asked for wisdom. Our choices make us, make our future, make our families, make our character. In this world, there is no lack of examples of men who have chosen the gold and the power of this world instead of the treasures of heaven. That is what we can call short-sighted thinking. 

Solomon chose wisdom, and God gave him everything in addition to wisdom. In Wisdom 7, we can read, “I pleaded for the spirit of wisdom...Yet all good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands.” Wisdom is the key that opens every door, but oddly enough, wisdom is not something we pray for every day! 

We need to start listening for God’s guidance every day, so that if we listen to Him for little things, we will hear Him clearly for the big things. Will I change my job? Will I move my family to the US? Will I marry him? How can I solve my problem? What should I do? To receive God’s wisdom for the hard things, we need to go to him every day when we do not have a decision to make, a hard choice, a dilemma, a crisis. We need to train ourselves to listen to His still, small voice. I think hearing from God is one of the most important things we can learn in our life! 

Friday, September 23, 2022

St. Padre Pio

“Lord, what is man, that you notice him; the son of man, that you take thought of him?” Psalm 144:3

Today, September 23, is the Feast Day of one of my favorite saints, Padre Pio. My mom loved telling stories about Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. She would always ask him to intercede. One time my father was in the hospital, in great pain because of gallstones. She laid her hands on him, asking for Padre Pio’s intercession. My father is Methodist and didn’t believe in asking for saints to pray for us, but he was instantly relieved of his pain. So he asked my mom to continue to lay her hands on him. 

Another reason why Padre Pio is a favorite of mine is because he is no typical saint. 

He is not a saint who exhibited patience. On the contrary, Padre Pio had an awful temper. In spite of that, he was beatified in 1999 and canonized in 2002. From the age of 5, he knew he wanted to dedicate his life to serving God. At the young age of 15, he entered the noviciate of the Capuchin friars at Morcone. 

Padre Pio said, “The person who meditates and turns his mind to God, who is the mirror of his soul, seeks to know his faults, tries to correct them, moderates his impulses, and puts his conscience in order." Here we see this holy man’s advice to us who easily lose patience. We need to recognize our faults, try to correct them and moderate our impulses. Padre Pio also suggested weekly confession. Just as a regular cleaning of our homes is necessary, so too we should see what unnecessary baggage we carry in our souls. I am sure Padre Pio also experienced disappointment in himself, and that’s why he always said to his visitors, “Pray, hope and don’t worry.” 

Lord, thank You for the example of Your saints. They were not perfect but they lived their lives for You. May we too never give up striving to live holy lives, going back to You and drinking from the living water of  Your Spirit. 

Thursday, September 22, 2022

What profit?

“What profit has man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun?” Ecc. 1:3

This is from the Anti-Corruption Resource Center site: “Corruption is a significant obstacle to good governance in the Philippines. A review of recent literature suggests that all levels of corruption, from petty bribery to grand corruption, patronage and state capture, exist in the Philippines at a considerable scale and scope.“ So much of our taxes are stolen by corrupt public officials, and even if they are caught and asked to return what they stole, they refuse to. Some are even smiling and sitting in the Senate and the highest position of our country. 

The writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes identifies himself as a King in Jerusalem who searched for understanding and wisdom. He built many beautiful palaces, and had more slaves, treasure, and concubines than many kings combined. “I had everything a man could desire! Anything I wanted, I took!” he claimed. 

“I did not restrain myself from any joy...but as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless. It was like chasing the wind,” this mighty King wrote in Ecclesiastes 2:10-11. Ecclesiastes is a journal, a diary of a man who accomplished much, experienced almost everything the world could offer during his time. From the vantage point of his privileged life, he found that one could not enjoy life apart from God. 

“What do people really get for all their hard work?” he pondered. People may work hard to accumulate wealth but at the end of our lives, we cannot bring anything more than a poor man may take with him. We can have many trophies, recommendations, and even streets named after us, but when we lie on our deathbed, none of that matters if we are not right with God. 

Although as the writer of Ecclesiastes says, “Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!”, we know that what God values is not vanity. When we die, we will find that faith, truth and love remain, and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13) 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Unqualified Yet Chosen

“What reason can the Teacher have for eating with tax collectors and those who disregard the law?" Matthew 9:11

What possible reason did Jesus have for eating and drinking with tax collectors, these scum of the earth who betray their own people?!!!! This was the question posed to the disciples by the Pharisees. Obviously some of them had a high regard for Jesus. They called Him teacher, they listened to Him preach in the temple. Some even asked Him questions. But it puzzled them that He associated with the likes of Matthew the tax collector.

I like what is written in The Word Among Us: "What did Jesus see specifically in Matthew that led Him to call him? How would this self-centered tax collector help Him bring about the Kingdom of Heaven? What specific gifts did He bring?”

“Maybe Jesus saw that Matthew had a stubborn persistence and persuasiveness. It can't have been easy to squeeze money out of people on a regular basis! Maybe it was his education; some people believe that the Gospel that bears Matthew's name is the most finely crafted and best written of them all."

Like Matthew, we too have gifts and talents that God sees because He is the source of it! He wants to call us, to use us, to accomplish His purposes through us. Are we open and willing like Matthew the tax collector to get up and follow Him? It may be that we think of ourselves as unworthy or unqualified. Let God be the judge of that. He qualifies the called, and not the other way around. Who would have thought Jesus would choose fishermen to spread His Kingdom on earth? 

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

God’s Family

Jesus said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” Luke 8:21

How clear this verse is. Jesus is not rejecting his mother and other relatives who came to see Him. Whomever hears the Word of God and obeys it, He emphasizes, are part of His new family. It is not determined by blood lines but spiritual kinship. God intervened in human history to establish a covenant relationship with man. If we want that for ourselves, we need to be like Mary, and have her disposition. In Luke 1:38, an angel gave her the amazing news that she will conceive and give birth to a son even if she was a virgin. She responded without hesitation, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” If we are able to say this to our Father, and love and follow Him with our heart and mind, spirit, soul and body, we will have a share in His divine calling. 

Today is the feast day of Saint Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn and Saint Paul Chŏng Ha-sang and their companions who were beheaded in Korea for being Christians. The government in Korea tried to suppress the spread of Christianity, and over ten thousand believers were martyred, because these men and women were willing to die instead of snuffing out the light of the Good News. Today the Church in Korea is one of the most vibrant and fastest growing in the world. Official data shows that more than 45% of South Koreans practice no religion, that about 22% are Buddhists, and that 29.2% are Christians. There are a total of 20,000 Christian churches in Korea, all because of the Korean scholars who were baptized in China long ago, and believed in Jesus fervently that they spread the faith in their homeland. They are all part of Jesus’ new family. Can we do the same? 

Monday, September 19, 2022

Let Your Light Shine

“No one who lights a lamp conceals it...” 

Luke 8:16

I remember a very well known, very beautiful woman once commenting, “I don’t know why people would want to shake my hand. They don’t know what I was doing and where I came from.” I couldn’t forget her saying this when I was quite young because I remember wondering what could she have been doing to make her say that! All of us have secrets like the most embarrassing thing to have happened to us, or where we keep our passwords, but Jesus said in this same passage that there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, nothing secret that will not come to light. 

Today it is not politically correct, especially in the West, to talk about religion and politics. There’s a lot of talk about relativism and about how we should respect others’ beliefs. We tiptoe around sharing the truth, the Word of God, because what is my truth may not be another’s. This is one way the world wants to stifle us from telling others the Good News. We are God’s light bearers and what God has revealed to us, we should not hide or be shy about proclaiming. The disciples and the saints were willing to die to proclaim the truth. 

Today is the feast day of Saint Januarius. He was the Bishop of Naples when the Emperor Diocletian waged the Roman Empire’s bloodiest persecution of Christians. When Januarius found out that his deacons and laymen were being put in prison, he went to visit them and he too was arrested when he refused to renounce his faith. There are many legends about how he and his companions were put in a furnace but did not burn, or dragged to an amphitheater and were not devoured by bears. The fact is Januarius was finally beheaded and his blood brought back to Naples. Three times a year thousands of people still visit the Naples Cathedral to see his congealed blood liquify in its double reliquary. 

“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:16) 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Good Soil

“A sower went out to sow his seed…And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold.” Luke 8:5-8

The seed here is the Word of God, and perhaps the soil is our hearts. There are different kinds of hearts. In 2006, I was very frustrated that even if I prayed early in the morning, and thought about what I read in the Bible, by 10 in the morning, I could not remember even the verse I read! My heart was like the footpath, where the birds just picked up the seeds and ate it!

Although the Word is spread far and wide- we can listen to it on TV, on Youtube, in prayer meetings, we can read it in on billboards, on websites, there is much more seed the enemy is planting! I think we have to think of more "creative" ways to plant the seed in our heart, to help it germinate and grow. We cannot allow the enemy to stifle it with all the work we need to do, to choke it with the lures of materialism, to drown it with the so many forms of entertainment, and our desire for a life of ease and comfort.

That is why in 2006, I decided to illustrate the Bible verse I read in the morning. I would just cut up pictures in magazines and glue it on to my prayer journal. It helped immensely to embed God's Word in my heart. I can say it not only helped me grow spiritually, and given me joy, but I also discovered I could paint! Truly, what God has planted in my heart produced so much more than I could ever had imagined! I even started a blog in 2006. 

I joined lovely groups on Facebook about Bible journaling. Most of us paint on our Bibles. Some of you may disagree with doing that, but I try hard not to get too much paint so I can still read the Word. Also, I have so many Bibles. 

My main Bible is soooo full of notations, from past studies -another way I try to place the Word in my heart, and help it permeate my life! I have to say though that even if I try all sorts of ways to study the Word, and listen to what God has to say to me, I really need His help to be consistent, and be the good soil I need to be! 

Friday, September 16, 2022


“…if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:17

Christ is risen from the grave? Fact or fiction? One would think that most skeptics would debunk Jesus’ resurrection with theories like mass hallucination or the idea that He did not really die, but they can’t. Our belief in Jesus’ resurrection is based on eyewitness accounts written by men willing to die for it. Those men, Peter, James and John, knew the truth. They saw Jesus. They preached it, and they were able to convince so many others by the power of their conviction. St. Paul, a skeptic, became a Christian three years after Jesus’ death. 

Bart Ehrman, a very well known skeptic, a non-Christian, says, "Paul got to interview Peter and James. I'd like to interview Peter and James. This is as close to eye witness testimony as we can get. It's very close to eye witness testimony.” 

Another proof of the resurrection is the gospel account tells us that WOMEN discovered the empty tomb. Women in those times couldn’t give a testimony in court. They were second class citizens. They were not considered credible witnesses. If the story was made up, it would never have included women as the first to be at the scene. And then there were the radical transformations of Peter, who went from coward to a champion of the truth, James who thought Jesus was crazy to the leader of the Jerusalem Church, and countless others, martyrs of the faith. 

God made sure that what we believe in is based on defendable facts. There is SO MUCH MORE EVIDENCE about Jesus and His life, death and resurrection, than there is about Julius Caesar and Alexander! Yes, Jesus is risen! Alleluia! 

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Christ Bearer

"Standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother... When Jesus saw His mother there and the disciple there whom He loved He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son." Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home." John 19:25-27

Can we imagine how Mary felt seeing her son on the cross? Even if there were so many times that she had to accept God's inconceivable will for her life, I don't think it can ever be enough to cushion her from this last agonizing pain! Perhaps she couldn't think anymore. She could only be aware of her heart breaking into a million pieces.

Elizabeth Stone said, "Making the decision to have a child- it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart walking around outside your body." 

That must have been true of Mary more than of any other mother! From the moment she conceived, there was so much hinging on the way she would love this child, nurture Him, teach Him, protect Him, and then surrender Him to the world to do with as we pleased!

“Behold, your mother." Before Jesus died, He made sure His mother would be cared for. I think He would also want us to honor her and love her. Just as there is a place in Jesus' heart for His mother, we should also find a place in our hearts to honor a woman who gave up her heart to lodge in her son's body, and allowed it to be trampled on so God's plan would be accomplished!

“Hail Mary! Truly you are full of grace!” May you be our example of how we should learn to sacrifice for others, and be a Christ bearer to the world.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

God Speaks in our Pain

“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!” Numbers 21:5

Poor Moses! He was stuck with an ungrateful and rebellious people! Even after they had seen God’s mighty saving power, they still complained. 

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. We complain about many things, horrendous traffic, our work schedule and workload, no time for ourselves, an overzealous boss or annoying office mates, our salary is not enough, having to wear masks all the time, etc etc. 

How are we dealing with our problems and challenges? Are we complaining about all the things we lack, or do we take the time to appreciate what we have? Are we able to meet God where we are? Or are we grumbling and rejecting God for where we are? The Jews were led into the desert. Is God leading us to a place where we would rather not go? 

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? 

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Strive Eagerly!

"Strive eagerly for the greatest of spiritual gifts." 1 Cor. 12:31

In another version, we read, be zealous for the better charisms. Each of us has received several gifts. Never let it be said that our generous Father was stingy when He handed out His spiritual and natural and creative gifts. We need to recognize them, use them, try them out, continue to exercise, grow and develop them like a muscle. 

I love looking at calligraphy, but I have neither the diligence nor the patience to master it. I know I can, if I really wanted to, but I choose to go after other gifts with the limited time I have. But it is not the same with our spiritual gifts. If we are not able to develop even one of the spiritual gifts God gives us, it is a loss for the Church. It is like a treasure that has not been found. 

Lord, may I not be ignorant of my spiritual gifts. May I give it back to You for the building of your people and Your church. May You open my eyes so I may help others find the treasure they possess. 

Monday, September 12, 2022

I Believe!

“I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” Luke 7:9

In Matthew 8:10, we read another version of what Jesus said: “Amen I say to you, I have not found so great a faith in Israel.”

What was it about the Centurion’s faith that surprised Jesus? Jesus said to the centurion, “Go, and just as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed at that very hour. True, it was very unusual for a Centurion, an officer in charge of 100 or more soldiers, to care so much for his servant. The historian Polybius noted, that a Centurion must be “ready to hold their ground, and die at their posts." They must be courageous, and not very sentimental, I think. 

But this man took the time to find Jesus, approach him and petition, “Lord, my servant lies at home paralyzed and badly tormented.” In those times a servant was no better than an animal, but this Centurion loved his servant and had compassion for him. He also had faith in Jesus, that even if Jesus did not go to his home, He could heal his servant. 

The Centurion said the very words we say at every Mass, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.” Jesus saw his heart, his faith, and answered his prayer. Do we have the same kind of faith as the Centurion?

Let us approach Jesus with the expectant faith of the Centurian. And if we feel our faith is lacking, let us pray like the father in Mark 9:24, “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!” 

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Go Home!

“How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger.” Luke 15:17

This verse reminds me of the time my brother went off to Canada to immigrate. He was doing graphic design for a company and telling the other employees there that back home he had help to cook food, wash his clothes, clean up after him, even drive him places. While he was in Vancouver, he had to do all that for himself, and live alone in a small apartment without his family around him. He was homesick. His office mates thought he was crazy. “What are you doing here? Go home!” they said. And he eventually did. 

The prodigal son thought the same, “What am I doing here? I should go home where I can eat!” He had selfishly squandered all his inheritance and he was not expecting a good welcome, but at least his father would not have allowed him to starve. What he did not expect was his father was longing for his wayward son to come home. Instead of treating him with resentment, his father hugged him tight, and prepared a feast to welcome him back! 

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! 

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Build on Rock

“I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, listens to my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when the flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built.” Luke 6:47-48

Jesus wasn’t an architect but He tells us how important it is to build a house on a strong foundation. If a building is constructed on unstable soil or precarious slopes, an earthquake’s motion of side to side, and up and down will quickly turn the soil into a bowl of jello. This is what happened in Mexico City’s earthquake in 1985, resulting in damage worth 4 billion dollars. 

If the land you have has soft soil, you have to make sure that the foundation reaches deep into the bedrock, anchoring the building’s piers as rigidly as possible, so that it will be able to withstand shock waves. 

Out of an estimated 2 million earthquakes a year around the world, only a quarter of those are detectable, but only 100 each year causes damage. We are blessed if we have a home that can withstand the force of an earthquake. 

Jesus spoke of flood damage to homes not built on rock, but perhaps built on natural flood plains of rivers. When storms come, homes and buildings get damaged if they are not built well. 

How about our families and our own lives? Are we building on solid ground? Either Charles Reade or Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: "Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.” It takes a lifetime to grow our character and it starts from a good solid foundation. The best foundation is a person, Jesus Christ, who is the perfecter of our faith, (Hebrews 12:2), and a sure foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11). 

Friday, September 09, 2022

Blind Leading the Blind

“Can a blind man act as a guide to a blind man?" 
Luke 6:39

God made a human being to be tremendously amazing! In Jesus' time, blind men could not do much but be a nuisance I suppose. He was reduced to begging. But today, if a blind man can learn how to echolocate, he can ride a mountainbike in the forest by himself, he can "hear" buildings from 1,000 feet away, he can navigate through a strange place smoothly and with no hesitation. Daniel Kish "sees" the way bats see in the dark. He became the first totally blind person in the U.S. to be fully certified to be able to lead another blind man and guide him. So yes, Daniel Kish can act as a guide to another blind man. In some ways. Echolocation cannot tell you if there is a hole in the ground, or if there is park bench in front of a stone wall.

But because God made the human being to be tremendously amazing, we can be arrogant and proud. When we know a little bit, we think we know it all. Like the parable of the 6 blind men and the elephant. One concluded that the elephant was a snake because he reached out for the tail. One adamantly insisted it was a wall, another 4 tree trunks, etc. We can be like that too, observing people from our great height of knowing. I know I am. My husband reminds me often of how I am too prone to judging others. Sometimes I condemn people because of how they look. This politician is crooked. That policeman with the big stomach is just standing there looking for someone to catch to get some money for his dinner. etc etc. Lord, heal my blindness. When I see people, let me see with Your eyes.

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye," as Antoine de Sainte-Exupery wrote in the Little Prince. Indeed, this is so true.

Thursday, September 08, 2022

Behold the Virgin

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, ​​​​and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” Matthew 1:23

I found it curious that we celebrate the nativity of the Virgin Mary every September 8. It’s not in the Bible but I found out that the Church has celebrated Mary’s birth since at least the sixth century. According to an apocryphal account from James, Mary’s parents were a couple named Joachim and Anna who were infertile much like the parents of St. John the Baptist. Whatever the truth, we can be sure that God chose Mary to be the mother of our Savior, and we can be sure that He also chose very special parents for her. We can’t ever choose our parents, but God could and did choose Mary for Jesus, His only begotten Son. That must mean she was exceptional in the qualities God thought essential for the woman who would bring up His Son. That was her unique mission, for inside Mary's womb, was the Word of God made flesh, the Bread of Life, and the actual and eternal High Priest. She brought Jesus into our world. 

I believe every person born into this world is special. We have unique gifts and each one of us, like Mary, is meant to be a blessing to the world. In Psalm 139, we can read, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

With the help of God, our Maker, I think part of the purpose of life is to discover our gifts, the work of life is to grow it; and we find meaning in life when we give our gift to bless others (adapted from David Viscott). We too can bring Jesus and His message into the world. 

Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Blessed are You Who are Poor

"Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours." Luke 6:20

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of God is yours.” This is kind of a difficult passage with many interpretations.

I guess it's because we tend to pick and choose what we want to hear. I think Jesus meant that we have to be poor in spirit, dependent on Him, empty of ourselves, before we can have the kingdom come into our lives. You can't fill a bottle which is already full of water or wine. But I think this is also about being really poor, wanting, needing... when we are poor, we are not content with the state our life is, and we are ready to cling to God. Not like the rich, young man in the Bible who was already 
contented with what he had and did not want to give up anything for God.

I hope I will never be content with my life as it is. No matter how special we are, we should know that we are spiritually poor, bankrupt before the Almighty God. We have absolutely nothing to offer Him aside from our sinful selves. Still He calls us to Himself, worthless as we are. As His children, we are given the riches of heaven, robes of royalty in exchange for rags, beauty for ashes. Blessed are we indeed! 

Tuesday, September 06, 2022


 "Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, and He spent the night in prayer to God.  When day came, He called the disciples to Himself and from them He chose twelve." Luke 6:12

Before Jesus chose the twelve apostles (from the Greek word meaning "one who is sent away", like a messenger or ambassador), He prayed. This was a very important decision. Jesus prayed the whole night!

Most of the time, my prayers bring good fruit. Someone gets healed. A problem is solved. A friend gets a job. We reach somewhere safely. I have been praying big and small prayers since I was very young. But sometimes my prayers are not answered. 

My mother died after many, many prayers. My brother still has colon cancer and I have my own serious health challenges. 

But I look at Jesus and see that after praying the whole night up in the mountain (not in the comfort of His bed), He still chose one man, Judas Iscariot. We can't say that was a good choice, can we? But I do believe it was an inspired choice. In a way, because of Judas and what he did, I am saved. Because of Judas, God's plan was fulfilled. But what of Judas? God only knows. If only he repented.

So when my prayers aren't answered the way I want God to answer, I can only look to Jesus' prayer on the mountain and trust that God knows best. He has His own purposes. A bigger plan. A grander vision. I need only to stay in faith and trust that He has my very best in mind.

Monday, September 05, 2022

Just a Little Pencil

Today is the Feast Day of Saint Teresa of Calcutta. 

Before she died, this amazing woman had founded 610 foundations in 123 countries. In 1979, she received the Nobel Peace Prize. We can list all her accomplishments and awards, but what stands out is her humility and her desire to do God’s work. 

Mother Teresa said she was just a little pencil in the hands of God. “He does the thinking. He does the writing. He does everything and sometimes it is really hard because it is a broken pencil and He has to sharpen it a little more.” She also said she was a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, and He was sending a love letter to the world. God was able to use this little pencil to bring love to so many sick, desperate people not only in India, but to so many countries around the world. I cannot imagine how this funny looking little nun was able to found 760 homes, including orphanages, centers for the dying, for refugees, for the aged, the dying, the blind, alcoholics, street children, and even a home for lepers. 

Mother Teresa told the story when a chairman of a multinational company came to see her, to offer her a property in Bombay. His first question was: ‘Mother, how do you manage your budget?” She asked him who had sent him to her. He replied: ‘I felt an urge inside me.’ She said: “Other people like you come to see me and say the same. It was clear God sent you, Mr. A, as He sends Mr. X, Mrs. Y, Miss Z, and they provide the material means we need for our work. The grace of God is what moved you. You are my budget. God sees to our needs, as Jesus promised. I accepted the property he gave and named it Asha Dan (Gift of Hope).”

She was able to do so much because she relied on God’s provision, and trusted in His mercy for His people. In the Cairo International Conference in 1994, Mother Teresa said: “If there is a child that you don’t want or can’t feed or educate, give that child to me. I will not refuse any child. I will give a home, or find loving parents for him or for her.” We need more people willing to go out on a limb for others! 

She died on September 5, 1997, and was canonized on September 4, 2016.

Sunday, September 04, 2022

Discover Your Wings

“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:27

Cross. Even the word scares me. Instead of looking at the "crosses" in our life as misfortunes, with dread, alarm, resignation, could we ever be joyful about them, excited even? “I've got the Big C!!! Be happy for me!!!" Probably not. Unless we really embrace the fact that God's love for us will never allow anything remotely bad for us. 

Suffering is God's opportunity in disguise.

"Be like a bird that, halting in its flight
Rests on a bough too slight,
And feeling it give way beneath him SINGS,

Carrying our cross is an opportunity to discover our wings!