Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Mustard Seed

Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.” Luke 13:18-19

How can the tiny mustard seed be compared to the Kingdom of God with all its power? Yet that is what Jesus compared it to. “When it is sown in the ground, the seed springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” That is the latent power of the seeds God plants in our hearts. With His pruning and nurturing, we can bear fruits of kindness, generosity, and faithfulness.  The more we use these gifts, the more we grow, and the more our little corner of the world changes. We must never underestimate the power of the little seeds of good we plant on our doorstep, in our offices, schools, neighbourhoods and churches. Let us help grow the Kingdom of God one seed at a time. 

A businessman was asked what was the secret of his success. He answered,  “Where God is in charge, small things enlarge. In God’s hand, small things expand.”

Monday, October 30, 2023

He Who Loves Us Best

“This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day from this bondage?” the Lord said. (Luke 13:16)

I always marvel at how much knowledge, entertainment and news is at our fingertips if we have a computer or a phone with an internet connection. The first computer was the size of a room, and the first hard disk drive was the size of a cupboard! And now, my phone has more power than that monster computer which I think was powered by steam!!!

Before, news had to carried by people on horses and letters by boats which took months to reach its destination. Now, a glance at my X feed formerly twitter can bring me news faster than CNN! What an amazing world we have!

But are we just as amazed at how awesome it is, that the Messiah that "kings and prophets" longed and waited for, is here with us today? That we can actually have a relationship with Him? We can read His words, His love letters to us. We can read His story and if we read it often enough, and get to know His character and personality, the more clearly we can hear Him speak. One of the best reasons to read scripture is to know Him who loves us best. He can answer our questions and guide us the same way He did for our forefathers. In this story in Luke 13, we see His compassion, even that He is willing to fight the authorities for us, just so He can help us and free us! 

Is it not that we often take for granted that we can actually worship and fellowship with other believers without fear of getting caught, stoned, burned at the stake, or carted off to be killed by animals in the middle of an arena like the Hunger Games? The Jews are still waiting for their Messiah. 

Have we "found" Him for ourselves?

Sunday, October 29, 2023


“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40

How do we love God? This is expressed above all in prayer, for what person loves without minding the object of his love? We need to waste time with our Father, first of all. Thomas Brooks said this was a “secret key to heaven”. Prayer is absolutely vital to a human being. We need to pray as much as we need to breathe! 

I love what St. Augustine wrote, “Prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with ours." Indeed God thirsts for us to be close to Him, hungers for our love, waits for our communication. We will never encounter a God like Him in other religions or in the atheistic mindset because He is implausible. How can we hold in our mind a God who is timeless but entered time, all powerful but allowed Himself to be weak and tortured by the very creatures He came to save? Implausible. 

It is this same God who desires to live in communion with us. Just as the Father, Son and Spirit, live in constant love, in community with one another, we are also called to live in communion with each other. To love one another. 

It is ironic that this world is so interconnected now. We can easily talk to a friend halfway around the world through Messenger, FaceTime, Telegram, etc. But how many actually do so? Families and friends are usually gathered about a table with their noses buried in their cellphones! 

When I am answering a message on my phone, or reading something on it, my little apo will put his tiny hands, one on each side of my face, so that I will concentrate on what he is saying. His earnest little face so close to my own reminds me there is nothing more important to this little person than connection. 

Sadly, there is a global mental health crisis. More people are lonely, depressed, starved of love. Although Generation Z (aged 18-22) is perhaps the most technologically connected, in the UCLA loneliness scale, they scored the highest in loneliness! Again, we need to waste time not only with God, but with our loved ones, our friends, our brothers and sisters. And leave our phones in our pockets. 

“Preaching to Myself”

Saturday, October 28, 2023


“Jesus departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.” Luke 6:12-16

Jesus prayed the whole night, and when he went down He chose after this night of prayer, His twelve apostles, fishermen, a tax collector, and one who would betray him. Are we missing something here? When we pray the whole night, we expect God’s guidance, His wisdom, His light shining on our concerns to give us the right path to take. But why did Jesus choose these men? 

Why did God choose Rahab the harlot, David the adulterer, Jacob the thief, Judah the fornicator, Tamar the deceiver, Abraham the liar… the list goes on. And the most surprising thing is all these sinners are listed in the genealogy of Christ! They are everyday sinners just like you and me, and God CHOSE them, USED them! Why? 

In Colossians 2:8, we read St. Paul’s words: “See to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy according to the tradition of men, according to the elemental powers of the world and not according to Christ.” We see here that God does not choose according to the standards of the world. He has a different tradition, a different economy, a different culture. 

While we run around in search of wealth, beauty, fun, popularity, power or fame, God does not put any value on these things. What He wants more than anything is to bring us to a relationship with Him, and to one day bring us to heaven. And He will use sinners like you and me to accomplish His purpose.

Friday, October 27, 2023

God is Good

“You are good and bountiful; teach me your statutes.” Psalm 119:68

Many question the goodness of God. I have heard many ask how can you call God good when He permits suffering? It says in the Bible that In this world we will have trouble. But we should take heart! For the Lord has overcome the world.” (John 16:33) 

When Corrie Ten Boom was young, she witnessed a death of a baby. She got very anxious that her father might die. Her father got concerned and asked her, “When you and I go to Amsterdam--when do I give you your ticket?"

She sniffed a few times before responding with “Why, just before we get on the train". Her father then went on, “Exactly. And our wise Father in Heaven knows when we're going to need things, too. Don't run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need--just in time".

And the same is true with our troubles. If we depend on God, He will give us what we need, when we need it. Corrie Ten Boom, when she was incarcerated in the Ravensbrück Concentration Camp with her sister Betsie found the needed strength, hope and perseverance in God who did not forsake her. She went on to be a Christian writer and speaker who traveled the world, and she even set up a rehabilitation center in Bloemendaal for concentration camp survivors.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Set on Fire!

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” Luke 12:49

Why in the world would Jesus say that? I think of the conflagration in Australia from July 2019 to March 2020 which devastated 46 million acres. More than 5,900 buildings became dust, ashes and rubble. At least 34 people were killed, and nearly 3 billion animals were affected in Australia’s worst wildfire season in modern history. Is this what Jesus meant?

In Deuteronomy 4:24, the verse says, “For the Lord, your God, is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” In another version, it reads, “a devouring fire”. Devouring and consuming are certainly descriptions of the wildfires in New South Wales and Victoria! It is something to take seriously! 

The verse before v.24, reads, “Take heed, therefore, lest, forgetting the covenant which the Lord, your God, has made with you, you fashion for yourselves against His command an idol in any form whatsoever”. How serious a sin is making an idol in any form, shape or configuration? Very very very serious! 

An idol is a false God. It doesn’t have to be a piece of wood, or marble in a church. It can be anything we put in the place of God. It can be a person we obey and admire and defend even if he himself does and says things against God’s laws, and asks us to do things that God hates. It can be our work if our work separates us from God and the family we love. It can be many things if we put those things before God. Indeed, Jesus wants to bring fire into our lives to burn away whatever is dross from the gold. Are we prepared for God’s consuming fire? We need to be if we are serious about going to heaven! No dross is allowed there! 

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Be Prepared

“You must also be prepared, be ready, for the Son of Man comes at an hour you do not expect..." Luke 12:40

When you see a sign on the bus, “The end is near", or hear some man preaching about "the end of the world is at hand", what is your reaction? Do you 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. The war in the Israel, Palestine, Ukraine and in so many other places is heartbreaking. And here, many people do not have enough food to eat while others cannot have enough money! 

The priest in the online mass I heard this morning, Father Artemis Raymundo of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, preached, “I am always asked how do we prepare for the coming of the Lord. We do not know when the Lord will come for us. Always Be prepared. Do your best every day. Do faithfully what you are supposed to do every day. Don’t wait for the deadline. Don’t postpone. Prepare yourself as if you have only one day to live.” 

Really we  should not 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?

Jesus said in Matthew 25:45, "Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me."

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Light Your Lamps

“Gird your loins and light your lamps...Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.” Luke 12:35-37

Very little is required of many of us I think. We are not part of a persecuted church, we are free to worship, and fellowship. 

In the book I am reading, one man in a Communist country urged: “Don’t ever give up in freedom what we would never have given up in persecution! That is our witness to the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ!” After Nik Ripken left his mission of feeding the hungry in Somalia, he felt very frustrated that he was not able to bring Christ there even after so many years. He then visited Russia, Ukraine and Eastern Europe to find out how the Christians there kept their faith strong after decades of communist oppression. In his book, The Insanity of God, Nik recounts many amazing stories the believers told him. “Why don’t you write this in a book?” he asked in awe. One man took him to the window to see the miracle of the sunrise. “Do you ever bring your son to see the sunrise? Persecution happens all the time.”

One man, Dmitri, said he had been raised in a believing family and his parents had taken him to church as a child. But over the decades, Communism destroyed most of the churches and many pastors were either imprisoned or executed. One day he told his wife that he would like to teach his young boys about Christ even if he had no religious training. With his wife’s eager consent, Dmitri started reading from their old Bible once a week, and explaining the stories, and praying. Since nothing can be hidden for long in small villages, with the houses so close together, and windows open, their neighbors asked to join in. A small group gathered, and more and more came, eager to discuss the Bible and sing and pray. The authorities noticed and threatened Dmitri again and again, but the people kept coming, hungry for the word of God. 

When the group grew to one hundred fifty people, Dmitri was forcibly brought to jail. There, he was the only believer among fifteen hundred hardened criminals. How did he survive seventeen years in jail with his faith intact? Every morning Dmitri would rise at dawn, face the East, and sing what he called a heart song to God. The second discipline was that whenever he found a piece of paper he would fill it with the word of God, and place it high up on a column in his room as an offering to God. He would get beaten for it, but he continued to do it. 

One day after 17 long years, after being tortured, Dmitri was dragged from his cell. The fifteen hundred criminals who used to taunt him when he sang, simultaneously faced the East, raised their arms, and began to sing the heart song that they heard Dmitri sing to Jesus every morning. The jailers immediately released their hold on Dmitri and demanded, “Who are you?” He responded: “I am a son of the Living God, and Jesus is His name!” Soon after that, Dmitri was released and was able to return to his family. 

“I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God.” That is what Jesus says in Luke 12:8. Let us continue to acknowledge Jesus as our Savior in good times and hard times!

Monday, October 23, 2023

Earthly Treasures

“Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.” Luke 12:21

Sometimes we rush through reading the Bible because we have read it before. But when we slow down, we may be able to find gems like this verse: 

“I commend you now to the Lord, and to that gracious WORD of His which can build you up and give you your rightful inheritance among all those set apart for God’s purpose.” Saint Paul, Acts 20:32

When we are able to savor God's Word, we can discover a treasure room full of different finely set jewels, intricate gold pieces and the finest pearls. Just like that room in the movie, “National Treasure”, but only bigger, limitless!

Many people through the ages have sought after gold, pearls, and jewels. Some have gone down deep into the sea to salvage pirate's treasure. Kings hoarded gems, explorers bravely set out to find cities of gold, pioneers spent years prospecting the elusive metal. Legends have grown around famous pearls. One particular pearl, the La Peregrina, has an illustrious 500 year history! After being found by a slave in Africa in the 1500s, and worn by Spanish queens and English nobility, it eventually ended up in Elizabeth Taylor's extensive jewelry collection. Once, she recounts in her book, she was so scared because she lost it. It was eventually found in the mouth of one of her puppies! The most perfect pearl in the world being chewed by a puppy!!

One day, all these worldly treasures will be worth precisely that- nothing! Years and years of prospecting something that is worth nothing! So much time, money and effort spent searching for some elusive treasure under the sea worth nothing! 

What do we spent our time, effort and money on? Does it have eternal value or will it be eventually worth nothing? Jesus said we should store up for ourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. (Matthew 6:20-21) Let us dig in the vast treasure of God's Word and let it enlarge us, build us up and give us an inheritance worth far more than all the earthly treasures throughout the ages!

Sunday, October 22, 2023

We Carry God’s Image

"Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God." Mark 12:17

Here Jesus points out that the coin of Caesar has Caesar’s face on it. That's why the people should pay their taxes to Caesar. But WE are made in the image and likeness of God! So we belong to Him.

We are each one, very important to God. Like God, we are CREATORS. Only man has the ability to create and use his imagination. None of the animals have this. Only we have the potential to be TRANSFORMED, to be RENEWED. We have a destiny beyond our wildest dreams! If only we partner with our Father, the one who put those dreams in our heart!

What Pope Francis had to say about this passage in October 2020 is well noting: “With this reply, Jesus places himself above the controversy. Jesus, always above. On the one hand, he acknowledges that the tribute to Caesar must be paid — for all of us too, taxes must be paid — because the image on the coin is his; but above all he recalls that each person carries within him another image — we carry it in the heart, in the soul — that of God, and therefore it is to him, and to him alone, that each person owes his own existence, his own life.

“Hence the mission of the Church and of Christians: to speak of God and bear witness to him to the men and women of our time. Every one of us, by Baptism, is called to be a living presence in society, inspiring it with the Gospel and with the lifeblood of the Holy Spirit. It is a question of committing oneself with humility, and at the same time with courage, making one’s own contribution to building the civilization of love, where justice and fraternity reign.”

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Everything Hangs Upon Our Faith

“…it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham..." Romans 4:16

Faith is an indispensable part of the equation. Our relationship with God, the way we see our life, how we get to the fullness God wants for us, here and after we leave the earth, hangs upon our faith. We cannot access the wealth of God's promises and our inheritance without faith. God's ways are incomprehensible and inscrutable to one who thinks “rationally”, with the understanding of the world. The foundation, the bedrock of God’s overarching principles is truth. And that is exactly what the enemy is trying to destroy on all fronts. 

God's economies, His measuring stick, His glasses, His thoughts, are way different from ours! So without faith, God is impossible to understand! He won’t make sense to most of us! But if we have faith, even the size of a mustard seed, claimed Jesus, if we trust God, if we are on His side, we can move mountains! Lord, help my unbelief!

Friday, October 20, 2023

Bring It to Light!

“There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nothing hidden that will not be made known." 
Luke 12:2

When Jesus told this to the crowd of thousands listening to Him, it might have seemed like a threat, but I take this as a promise of freedom. The enemy likes to work in the dark, he likes us to hide thoughts, motives and intentions, so he can have power over us.

When I was young, I liked to read but we only had very few books in the house. Then my aunt went to the US to get married and left us boxes of her books. There was War and Peace and Gone with the Wind that I read innumerable times during my High School years. Unfortunately, the rest of the books were romantic novels by Lucy Walker and Barbara Cartland, and mostly Mills and Boone. I kept a stash of my favorites under my bed for years, the ones that did not embarrass me. When I was in college, God told me to throw those favorites away. I did not want to. It was my guilty secret. It was almost as if I loved those books! I wrestled with God for months until one day, I told my sister Meldy what God wanted me to do. She said, "Then throw it away!" and just like that I was able to throw it all away. The hold the enemy had on me was broken.

Now I know if the enemy has a hold on me, all I have to do is bring it to the light!

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Thank You Jesus!

"For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard." 
Romans 3:23

No one particularly likes to talk of sin. A whole lot of preachers shirk from telling their congregations that they are sinners and need to turn away from their evil worldly ways. Saint Paul clearly tells us we are all sinners, not only the Pharisees or tax collectors or corrupt politicians or fornicators, or murderers. ALL are sinners. When we talk of sin, we would also have to ask, "By whose standards?" Most of us would like to make our own, and exclude from the list whatever we do! 

But Saint Paul tells us we are all under the law of God. We can't make our own rules, even if we argue till we are blue in the face to be politically correct or socially acceptable. In the end, what will matter is we are under God's law because He created us, and we have all sinned against Him. 

In Josh McDowell's book, "More than a Carpenter", he relates a story of a judge in California who declared a young woman guilty for speeding. He fined her $100, and then the judge stood, took off his robe, and paid the fine. You see, the woman was his daughter. He was willing to pay the price for her so she could go free. 

In the court of life, of which God is the judge, the "wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). We are all sinners, guilty as charged. God took off His robe of divinity to come down in the form of man to pay the price.  

Thank You Jesus for loving as so much to be our redeemer, to be the propitiation for the requirements of the Father, so we may live with You forever in Your heavenly Kingdom!

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Work for the Lord

"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few..." Luke 10:2

We used to sell a figurine in our shops with the words, “Work for the Lord— the pay isn't much but the retirement plan is out of this world." My sister overheard a lady tell her child, “I gave this to your dad and it changed his life." Apparently the father had been a workaholic and the family hardly saw him. After he received the figurine, he devoted more time to his family and to God. My sister thought that it was amazing that one figurine with a truthful message could change somebody’s life. After all, we had SO MANY inspirational figurines, posters, and assorted merchandise! It was awesome to think that many people were encouraged, inspired and motivated when they came to visit our branches. 

Yes the harvest is abundant, and many more "laborers" are needed. God uses many ways to bring in the harvest. We may say we don't have the gifts necessary, but Jesus' apostles were the most unlikely bunch. He chose them not for what they were but for what He could make of them! At the start, they usually wanted to send the crowds away. They thought children were a nuisance. Jesus had to teach them for 3 years, and even that was not enough. He had to die so He could send a helper, the Holy Spirit, so they could become brave, wise and willing to give up their lives to be “laborers in the vineyard", and “fishers of men".

There is a book written in 1773 by a then 22 year old Tom Boston with a funny name, “The Art of Man Fishing". He wrote that the net of the gospel is woven from the PROMISES of the gospel. I think if we want to be effective fishers of men, we need to know the promises of the gospel, we need to believe and claim the promises, so that we can tell others with conviction that all Jesus said is true!

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Inside Out

“Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.” 
Luke 11:39-41

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

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

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

Monday, October 16, 2023

The Only Sign

“While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, ‘This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah...’” Luke 11:29

We are always looking for signs, a red rose, a white rose, whatever. So many people followed Jesus around, jostled to listen to Him, because He was a miracle worker, He healed the sick, He raised the dead, He multiplied bread. If Jesus came today, crowds would follow Him as well. And He would say the same thing, “This generation is an evil generation,” because we would be looking for signs as well. Not much has changed. 

Michelle Karen D’Silva, a Catholic Speaker who has spoken at the Golden Jubilee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Rome, ministered to about 80 domestic helpers in Qatar a few years ago. I would not be surprised if many of them were Filipinas. These women had escaped from their sponsors after they had paid huge sums of money back home to get jobs. They were scammed and many of them had been abused, raped, some had babies, many had their passports withheld and could not go home back to their families. Michelle was overwhelmed at the hopelessness in their faces. She shared that something powerful happened the moment she said, “Sisters, shall we pray?” 

“Immediately,” she continued, “their right hand moved upwards to make the sign of the cross. Now, whether they understood that fully or not, I don’t know. Whether they’d ever been in the church before, I don’t know. But this, I know: their memory as little girls was marked by the cross. And that evening as we worshiped, hands were raised and tears began to flow. And suddenly they were not alone, because before them stood a crucifix, with a man hanging there between life and death who had first suffered for their sake.” 

The cross is the only sign we need.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Learn the Heart of God

While Jesus was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” He replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” Luke 11:27-28

Jesus' mother exemplifies one who hears the word of God and observes it! She it is who proclaimed, “I am the handmaiden of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) I like reading stories and words of the saints, men and women of clay, who became enamored of God and filled with enthusiasm to read His word and let it dwell in their hearts. May we be one of those who wake up in the morning to hear what God has to say to us, and to be eager to try again to follow Him more nearly. 

Saint Teresa of Avila was canonized in 1622 AD and was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970. In The Book of Her Life, an autobiography, she wrote that Truth was telling her: “...all the harm that comes to the world comes from its not knowing the truths of Scripture in clarity and truth; not one iota of Scripture will fall short... Alas, daughter, how few there are who truthfully love Me! For if they loved Me, I would reveal my secrets to them.” 

Indeed, in the Bible lies available for us all the most wonderful secrets of God! How sad it is when a person refuses to read what God has given us so lovingly, what He has prepared and planned for through the ages! St. John Chrysostom, another Doctor of the Church emphasized, “To become adult Christians you must learn familiarity with the scriptures.” There are definitely no shortcuts. In one of his homilies St. John explained, “But what is the answer to these charges? 'I am not', you will say, 'one of the monks, but have a wife and children, and the care of a household.' This is what has ruined everything, your thinking that the reading of scripture is for monks only, when you need it more than they do. Those who are placed in the world, and who receive wounds every day have the most need of medicine. So, far worse even than not reading the scriptures is the idea that they are superfluous. Such things were invented by the devil.” In Proverbs 4:20-22, we read, “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life into those that find them and MEDICINE to all their flesh.” 

Pope St. Gregory implored, “Study them, I beg you, and meditate daily on the words of your Creator. Learn the heart of God in the words of God, that you may sigh more eagerly for things eternal, that your soul may be kindled with greater longings for heavenly joys.”

And then there are what Bishop St. Isidore wrote in the Office of Readings: “If a man wants to be always in God's company, he must pray regularly and read regularly. When we pray, we talk to God; when we read, God speaks to us.” So important was the Bible to St. Bonaventure, that he composed the “Biblia Pauperum”, which means Bible of the Poor. In his day, most people could not read or write, so he made a collection of pictures. His Biblia showed the important events of the Old Testament paralleling scenes in the New Testament, how the Old prefigured and was fulfilled in the life and teachings of Jesus. 

Today, we have no excuses. All sorts of Bibles are available for us to read and study, all versions, small, with big letters, huge margins to write on or draw on, etc. Let us read His Word, listen to videos about it, learn, study, meditate, and be blessed. 

Friday, October 13, 2023

By the Finger of God

“...by the finger of God.” 

Luke 11:20

This phrase is found in the Bible in four places. The first time in the Old Testament we read this is in Exodus 8:19 when Moses unleashed the third plague and Pharaoh’s magicians could not replicate the appearance of thousands of gnats. In Exodus 31:18, and Deuteronomy 9:10, it is written that it was the finger of God that made the engraving of the Covenant Law on the stone tablets. 

The fourth mention is by Jesus Himself where He claims that it is by God’s power that He drives out demons. Even a small portion of Jesus’ power is enough to defeat the enemy. In this passage, Jesus cast a demon out of a man who could not speak, and the man’s voice returned, amazing the crowd. Jesus did many miracles but some believed He did it by Satan’s power, the prince of demons. 

“A kingdom at war with itself is doomed,” Jesus reminded them. “How will it stand? If it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.” Jesus warns that, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” 

Sometimes the problem is we are not fully committed to God. Instead of being solidly on His side, we sit at the sidelines. On Sundays, we go to church, and pray. We even decide to do better, to love God and neighbor. But then during the week, it’s back to our favorite sins and worldly pleasures. One man told a priest during confession, “Father, I keep confessing the same sins!” The priest responded, “What do you want, new sins??!”

God can work powerfully in us, even an ounce of His power would be enough to change us, if we are not at war with ourselves. Many want to stop taking drugs, or want to quit drinking excessively, or know that pornography is destroying them. But they keep going with the same friends, visiting the same places, and are addicted to the same websites, where they get tempted. The same is true with other vices. To put a stop to it, we need to cut away from our lives that which lures us into sin. Then we can show Jesus we want to be on His side, not against Him. 

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Like a Tree

“He is like a tree planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade. Whatever he does prospers." Psalm 1:3 

After a strong typhoon, we see some trees uprooted, but some trees remain. What is the difference? It is perhaps the roots. Roots serve to anchor trees to the ground. But it is also how the trees get their food. The more roots and root hairs, the more a tree can absorb nutrients from the soil. The roots also are the trees' pantries, where they store food for later use. When a tree is cut down, and its roots remain, the roots can send up a shoot that can start to grow into a tree again!

How important it is that we develop a strong root system, that we be FIRMLY PLANTED and established in the Word of God, so that even if we become "cut down" because of sin, there is always hope for new life! And how important it is that we keep a “store" of God's Word in our heart, so that when troubles come, we can draw strength and 
peace from it!

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Teach Us to Pray

Lord, teach us to pray..." Luke 11:1

Being Jews, it was almost certain that the disciples knew how to pray. Jews were supposed to pray three times a day, like David. They had the morning prayers, afternoon prayers and evening prayers. This custom was supposedly introduced by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so they had a long tradition of prayer. But they were prescribed prayers. In the morning you recited a blessing upon waking up, another one upon taking your bath, another blessing while putting on your clothes, etc.

So why did the disciple ask Jesus to teach them to pray? Why would anyone ask another to teach them to pray? Because perhaps they saw something they wanted for themselves. They saw that when Jesus prayed, His prayer was effective. It gave Him power, He received wisdom, instruction. He had purpose, meaning, vision. I'm thinking the disciple was asking to learn more formula prayers, more prescribed prayers, for they knew nothing else. 

Instead they got a radical prayer, a prayer which gave them permission to call God, "Abba", daddy, papa. It was unheard of! So really, what Jesus was teaching was that God wanted a close, intimate relationship with His children. Something beyond the ken of the Jews who did not even dare spell out God's name or pronounce it!

Thank you Jesus for showing us the Father's heart, a heart full of love and tender mercies! Indeed what are we that You should desire to have fellowship with us! 

We do not deserve it, but You love us nonetheless!

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

One Thing

“Only one thing is required.” 
Luke 10:42

I am more of a Martha than a Mary in so many ways. Although I am seldom busy in matters of the household, I am never idle unless I am very sick. I tend to multi-task and it is not uncommon for me to be listening to a class on Skillshare and doing some other work with my hands. When Martha complained to Jesus about her sister Mary, He kindly reminded her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and upset about many things; only one thing is required. Mary has chosen the better portion and she shall not be deprived of it." 

Jesus in His reminder to Martha tells us in no uncertain terms, that listening to Him is SO important. Sitting at His feet and getting to know Him and His words will produce more results than any labor we do. 

We can get so disheartened about life sometimes, maybe our work, or relationships gone bad, sickness, finances, what's happening in our country and in the world…But what can get us through any seemingly hopeless situation is not racking our brains for a solution, but prayer and reading the Word of God. I heard about this experiment with rats put in water. Some rats were in a dark room and they drowned right away. Others were in a lighted room and they kept swimming for about 72 hours more than the rats in a dark room. The difference? Hope.

Hope is not tangible. We cannot buy it anywhere. Same with peace. Same with joy. But we cannot live a blessed life without these gifts from God. Indeed to be surrounded by His favor, we need only one thing. 

All of Jesus' conversations with Martha and Mary have not been recorded, but we too can have our own conversations with the Lord. When we are bothered and upset about many things, Jesus calls us to have a conversation with Him. To sit at his feet. Dinner can wait. Worrying can wait. Only one thing is required. That we listen to him. That we believe. That is the only way we will see the glory of God. Yes Lord, I will listen. I believe! I want to see Your glory!

Monday, October 09, 2023

Who is My Neighbor?

“Who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:29

A scholar of the law asked Jesus this question after he recited the great commandments of loving God and loving neighbor. Indeed, do we know who our neighbors are? 

Pope Francis writes that the Parable of the Good Samaritan “indicates a way of life, which has at its main point not ourselves, but others, with their difficulties, whom we encounter on our journey and who challenge us.” Do we, like the Good Samaritan, stop, go out of our way, take our focus off ourselves, to help a brother or sister in need? 

I appreciate the sharing of Lizanne Southgate so much because the one who stopped and helped her was a cleaning woman at a hospital. Lizanne had to bring her 2-year old son, Larkin, for surgery and she was all alone because her husband was at home taking care of their other children. While waiting in agony, fearing for her son’s life, she saw on the TV in the waiting room that the city of Los Angeles was engulfed in riots and fires. Her mother was there and she could not get through. She collapsed against the wall weeping. 

When the elevator doors opened, a wiry cleaning lady emerged pushing a big fuzzy, dust mop. The lady, after a moment, slid down beside Lizanne and asked what was wrong. She held Lizanne’s hands in her rough, work-worn hands and patted them. She began to speak of her own life and Lizanne realized the old lady had so many sorrows. “How do you survive?” she asked. 

“You just gotta have faith. Nothing lasts forever, it all passes on. And when you can’t hold on no more, you just let go and let the angels carry your troubles awhile. It’ll be all right.” Lizanne’s “mop angel” stayed with her until the doctors came out to tell her they were able to take the gangrenous appendix out of Larkin, and that he would be fine. She eventually found out her mother was safe as well. 

Lord, I hope I am not too busy with my own concerns not to see my neighbor. I hope I can be present to those in need and not be so focused on my own needs.

Sunday, October 08, 2023

Peace Beyond Understanding

"Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,  make your requests known to God, then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

This is one of my favorite Bible verses, and the following passage from St. Augustine's Confessions, seems to be its partner: “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in Thee."

I remember when I had no peace at all, little things made me cry, and it seemed as if everything I had done in my life was worthless. I would argue with everyone and  fought with my poor mother who could not understand what was happening. It was in such a contrast to my usual state of mind where I was content, thankful for everything, and rarely in contention with anyone. My mother called it my MIDNIGHT CRISIS, and so it was! I found out eventually there was something wrong with my thyroids that caused all the havoc with my emotions and physical well being. 

Through it all, and it lasted for more than a year, I held on to Philippians 4:6-7. I would confess it, pray it, claim it, repeat it, and I knew that one day, 'this too shall pass'. And thank God, it did!

Peace is not the absence of problems, conflict, storms, anger...It is the surety we belong to Someone who loves us and wants the best for us. It is the confidence that everything will turn out right, even in spite of ourselves. 

Thank You Lord that even in a world full of tension and strife, You are the gatekeeper, and we can enter into Your peace!