Wednesday, January 31, 2024

The Wisest

“Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith. (Matthew 13:54-58) 

In the gospel story for today, people in the synagogue were astonished at Jesus’ wisdom and learning, but they put him down and did not give him credibility. All because he was a ‘mere’ carpenter’s son, and they knew where he came from. Today many of us do not really accord dignity and respect to people who serve us, the waiters, the guards, the street sweepers, the couriers, the men who collect our garbage and keep our metropolis running. They are faceless to us most of the time. We don’t talk to them, or greet them  a good morning. 

We need to be humble in order to see the value of each human person. Our blessings pass through them. What would our city look like without them, dirty, smelly, even more of a horrible mess of cars and motorcycles, no one to fix the internet or electric service, no one to bring our purchases to us so conveniently, etc etc. 

One day I heard a talk from one of our leaders in community when we were on retreat. The first thing he asked was, “Do you know the name of the person who served you breakfast?” This man made it a point to get to know and speak to each person he came into contact with. He could tell us stories about each of them. 

Let us be more caring and generous with the people we come into contact with every day. Our lives will be so much richer for it. We never know what we can learn from others. The wisest people never met anyone they could not learn from! 

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Fear is Useless

"Fear is useless. What is needed is trust." 

Mark 5:36

In another version of the Bible, Jesus tells Jairus, "Do not be afraid any longer, only believe." Before Jesus healed Jairus' daughter, he told the woman with a flow of blood, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. It is your faith that has cured you." 

Faith. Trust. Belief. We can think of these as just abstract words or we can think they are action words that when applied, can bring about change, healing, transformation, success even. I love reading the Bible, and the lives of saints who put their faith into action. I also like to read and listen to people who have applied Biblical principles in the marketplace and have been successful because of it. Men like David Browne, CEO of LensCrafters, usually grow up believing that faith and business do not mix. But after a life changing encounter with Jesus, David Browne started following Jesus' servant leadership model, and changing the culture of his company. Revenues grew and the number of stores increased from 50 to 1200. 

Lord, I want my faith to grow, to be alive, to be a force that changes me and the people around me. Help me to trust You, to believe in Your words and obey You, not only in church or in a prayer meeting, but every where I am! 

Monday, January 29, 2024

Dwelling in Tombs

“...he had his dwelling among tombs.” 

Mark 5:3

In Mark chapter 5, we read of an amazing incident where a man with a legion of evil spirits is made free by Jesus. He had been dwelling among the tombs and he was always crying out and bruising himself.

Here in our city there are many who live in the cemetery, among the gravestones. They build haphazard shanties on top of stacks of tombs. The “lucky” ones get to live in fancy mausoleums they are paid P50 to take care of. There is no water, no electricity, the residents say, but there are TVs and karaoke machines and light bulbs. The community is frequently raided by the police in violent anti-drug raids, and the victims are buried there, near the shanties of their families. Their lives are terribly wretched, but they are used to it. Some have lived there since the 60s.

Sometimes some of us get too comfortable living amidst dead things. Many of what we concern ourselves with have no eternal value. Instead of spending time with loved ones, we work to accumulate things we cannot bring with us when we die. We are surrounded by dead things. I am surrounded by so much stuff that sap my energy, and I cannot hope to take care of even if I live to be a hundred! I hope I can put more of my time and effort investing in people instead of things. 

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Bother us!

 A man with an unclean spirit shrieked: "What do you want of us, Jesus of Nazareth?" 

Mark 1:24

"What do you want of us?? Why are you bothering us?? Let us alone!! What business do you have with us??" These are all translations of Mark 1:24. In other words, "This is my life, get your hands off my life, don't interfere!!"

The unclean spirit KNEW whom he was talking to- Jesus, the Holy One of God. We all know God wants to "interfere" in our life. He wants to help us, redeem us, guide us. But sometimes, we want to be left alone to do what we want. We don't want to change. We don't want to see what needs to be changed IN us!! We are too proud to admit we need to change.

Romans 12:3 reads "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.." I have to confess I deal with this in myself all the time. When I get impatient or annoyed about something or someone, is it not that I am thinking I am too important to deal with this, to deal with incompetence or inefficiency, slow acting, or slow speech, falling in line, or whatever. We have to watch how we treat people, family, office mates, strangers. This is how we show we are learning and growing to be disciples. "By this shall all men know you are My disciples- that you love one another." (John 13:35) Corinthians 13 says that when we love, we are patient, kind, humble, we don't take into account a wrong suffered, we bear all things, we endure!

In the movie My Fair Lady, which was about a flower girl Eliza Doolittle, Eliza tells Mrs. Higgins, “The difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she's treated. I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins, because he always treats me as a flower girl, and always will, but I know I can be a lady to Col. Pickering because he always treats me as a lady, and always will." Professor Higgins treated her as if she was his property picked "out of the squashed cabbage leaves of Covent Garden”. 

How do we treat others? How do we talk to our helpers, the street sweeper, the harassed cashier? Do we look down on them, or do we treat them with the dignity they deserve as our brothers and sisters in God’s family? 

Yes Lord, bother us! Show us where we need to change! 

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Is God Sleeping?

"Doesn't it matter to you that we are going to drown?" Mark 4:38

Yesterday I read a news story about an American Airlines flight steward who would put a camera inside the airplane toilet before a young girl uses it. When federal agents arrested him, there were several incriminating videos and photos stored on his iCloud of young girls using the toilet and sleeping. 

A few years ago I read a news story that sent shivers down my spine. It was about a Filipina and an Australian man who would entice little girls with a good life, coerce them into doing awful things, torture them, and videotape all this to sell on the internet. These are the stories that make men into atheists. They ask the same question the disciples asked when they were on a boat with Jesus and a bad storm broke out. “Doesn’t it matter to You?”

Apparently it was a really bad storm as these were experienced fishermen, as brawny as they come, and Jesus was asleep. "Teacher, doesn't it matter to you, don't you care that we are going to drown?" Jesus woke up, rebuked the wind, and spoke to the sea. "Be quiet! Be still!" Yes, God can make the wind, the sea, fire, volcanoes, earthquakes, tornadoes, explosive sun storms all obey Him, but He gave us, man, free will. He said He stands at the door and knocks! 

It boggles my mind that God would "sleep" while horrors, wars and terrorism are going on in the world, in my country, perhaps even in my neighborhood. But another mind boggling thing is God created man to have a relationship with Him. You can't have a genuine, intimate relationship with a robot. I can't have a kinship, a connection with my computer. That's why God gave man free will, the freedom to choose to have a close bond with Him or to reject Him. God gave man a choice to choose or reject evil. 

But the whole Bible is a love story. It is His story of how God loved us even before we knew Him, even while we are sinners. It is a story of a God who is committed to us, who is willing to die for us. Yes, Jesus died for that awful flight attendant, that woman and that pervert of a man who are all now, thank God, in the hands of authorities. 

The devil tries to make bulwarks of evil all around the world. It's easier now with the internet that can spread lies, pornography, anger, discontent just with a click of a finger. But we should never make the mistake of thinking God does not care. He is busy too, making bulwarks where we can be protected, and where we can venture out to "save" others in the clutches of darkness. Those bulwarks are the communities, prayer groups, churches, and congregations preaching and teaching the authentic word of God. 

"And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near." That is what is said in Hebrews 10:25. God knows we need to be encouraged and inspired, and we need to be taught to obey the written word of God. It is very important that we belong in one of God's bulwarks. Because it matters very much to God that we do not drown in the sea of evil. 

Friday, January 26, 2024

My Joy is the Fruit

“With many parables, He spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.” Mark 4:33

I have heard so many homilies, sermons, and preaching, in my life. I have to confess a lot of times most of it goes in one ear and out the next. Sometimes it doesn’t and I’ve noticed that when a priest or preacher tells a story, that is when my attention is caught and I am even able to remember it and share it with others. 

Jesus was a story teller. He told lots of parables, and gave us word pictures. Like he said the Kingdom of God is like the tiny tiny mustard seed, but once it is planted in the ground, it becomes the largest of plants and the branches become so large the birds can dwell in its shade. My grandchild is only three years old. He is like a little whirlwind who does not stop moving. But there is one thing that will keep him still and that is if he is told a story. I delight in his expressive face when I tell him stories because he is so interested and asks a lot of questions. The last time he asked me a question, I did not quite know the answer and I had to search on Google and read him the answer. He memorized it word for word! He even told his Nana Peggy and my sister was so amazed, she asked him where he learned it. He answered, “Google search!” 

Today, there really is no reason to say we cannot understand the Bible. When we read, we can ask God to help us, but if we are at a dead end, there are so many resources available to us on the internet. I delight in reading about archaeological finds that prove the Bible stories, apologetics, customs during Jesus’ time to make the narrative come alive. And if I do not remember 9/10 of what I read, that is fine. I believe that God’s seeds of His faithfulness are planted in my heart and He is the gardener. My joy is one of the fruits. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2024


 "Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow..." Mark 4:3

This is how Jesus introduces the Parable of the Sower- LISTEN!  Hear this! Then he proceeds to share about a farmer who sows seeds on different kinds of soil, and depending on the soil, the seed either gets eaten by birds, or gets scorched by the sun, or gets choked by thorns, or bears abundant fruit. Usually we think of the soil as different types of hearts, and how different kinds of people receive the Word of God. But another way of thinking about Jesus’ story is realizing that most of us receive God's word differently at different seasons of our life.

In 1 Corinthians 3:9, Saint Paul says we are God's field, God's garden. He is the sower, the farmer planting seed. In God's garden of our hearts, He finds different kinds of soil at different times of our life. Sometimes we are very receptive and eager to listen. And His Word finds a place in our heart, but only for a short time. At other times, we are so busy, or so anxious, and God's Word, perhaps given by an office mate as advice, goes out our other ear. But Jesus says, LISTEN! Hear my words! Don't just pick and choose when you want to hear it! Prepare your soil, prepare your hearts to receive My Word. God gives us His wisdom indiscriminately, like the farmer. We may find it in a book we are reading, an Instagram post, when we are out hiking and listening to the sounds of birds, or even while conversing with a stranger! 

If we want a good harvest, a bountiful harvest, we need to prepare our hearts the same way a farmer prepares his soil. A farmer digs up the soil and breaks up the lumps in it. He takes out the rocks, the roots, the weeds. That means we need to examine our life. Is there someone we need to forgive? Is there some wrong doing that needs to be corrected? Lord, I want to bear abundant fruit! Let me see what I need to do in order to have a heart ready to receive Your word with joy! 

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

New Family

“Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:35

We can’t pick and choose our family, we are born into one. I thank God all the time for my family. Our parents brought us up simply and well. We were all taught the virtues of loving and obeying God, honesty, and working hard. We have all heard so many sad stories of people who grew up in less than ideal family situations. Either the father or mother is an alcoholic, or a gambler, or a drug user, or all three. They can’t keep a job, they physically and emotionally abuse their children, etc. In the He Cares Voluntutor program for street children, they not only tutor the children academically, they also need to teach the parents how to encourage their children to study. This is because a lot of parents hinder their children’s ability to learn by saying things like, “You’re stupid! You just can’t do it!” 

Isn’t it wonderful that whatever kind of family we come from, we can be part of a whole new family? A family with a royal bloodline? That is exactly what Jesus is saying here, whoever does the will of God is part of His family! We can have new brothers and sisters if we join a Bible based Christian group or fellowship. In my community, Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon (Joy of the Lord), I am surrounded by loving, encouraging, supportive, and prayerful brothers and sisters that I joyfully journey with on my pilgrim walk to our heavenly home. 

Monday, January 22, 2024

Divided Kingdom

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” 

Mark 3:24-25

Jesus was accused by the teachers of the law that He was possessed by Beelzebul! “By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.” So Jesus tells them in no uncertain terms how that is not possible! If he is in Satan’s camp, then why would He drive out evil spirits? 

There are many families driven to disaster by jealousy, greed and disunity. One family that caught my attention are the Jumabhoys, an Indian family that became very rich in Singapore in the 80s and 90s. Their patriarch Rajabali Jumabhoy had migrated to Singapore from India in 1916, and they became influential pioneers in Singapore real estate. They developed their family property on Orchard Road into the first mall in Singapore, Scott’s Shopping Center, in 1982. 

During the eight year tenure of Rajabali’s grandson, Rafiq, as CEO, Rafiq was able to quadruple the value of the Scotts Holdings to over $600 million and broadened the company’s presence into service apartments, and property development along with subsidiaries in Singapore, the UK and Australia. 

Alas, family infighting and feuds destroyed the vast empire. Rajabali brought his son, Ameerali, to court in 1995. And Rafiq, Ameerali’s son, was caught in the crossfire of the dysfunctional family’s power struggle. Rafiq recalled how he went to New York for a day and a half and came back with a four hundred million dollar deal to buy Trump Tower. He got frustrated because the question he was asked was not about the deal but whether he travelled first class or economy!!! After years of fighting and lawsuits, the Jumabhoys lost control of their empire, which was acquired by CapitalLand. 

Today the family, once part of Singapore’s elite, keeps a low profile. 

Truly Jesus’ words ring true. Whether it is a kingdom, a country, a family, or even a business, if it is divided, it cannot stand the test of time. 

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Enkindle the Flame

“Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Mark 10:14

What does it mean to have a childlike faith? Let me ponder this for a while because it is so important to Jesus. He said, “Whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” (Mark 10:15) 

Our grandchild is already three years old. My husband likes to bring him around, walking to church, lighting a candle in prayer for me, saying hello to the staff at the parish office. I asked Luigi why he carries the little boy when he is so heavy already. He answered because he likes to see his little face with its many expressions. The last time they went walking, the adorable child came into the house with a huge smile on his face and his eyes were crinkled as he recounted to me what he saw and did. So much joy for simple things. 

In Ephesians 1:3, St. Paul wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens…” And then in verse 18, “May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to His call, what are the riches of glory in His inheritance among the holy ones.” 

Do we have a childlike joy, enthusiasm and delight for the blessings and gifts our Father has for us? Or have we grown too blasé, tired and weary, disheartened and even disillusioned to even think about being grateful? How to get back the joy and eagerness of our first love for Jesus? I think taking the time to sit with Jesus, wasting time with Him as a new bride can sit contentedly with her husband, just relishing the nearness and companionship, will enkindle the flame. After all, Jesus will not be outdone in generosity. Whatever time we give to Him, will come back in a hundredfold blessing and favor. ♥️♥️♥️

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Fool for Christ

They said, “He is out of his mind.” Mark 3:2

When my sisters and I were going to QC Jail to preach the Word of God and bring merienda to the inmates, my sister asked her husband if he wanted to go with us. He answered violently, “Are you crazy?” Eventually however Charlie came along and towards the end (before the pandemic when QC Jail would be closed to visitors), he would even go by himself, a lonely figure carrying two bags of snacks one on each hand. 

Indeed when we serve God, some may think we are not quite sane! But we are in good company! How much more when men and women refuse to recant their faith? How many have been martyred because they stood fast for Jesus? How many have been beheaded, skinned alive, tortured on racks and placed in dungeons? How many have been thrown to the lions, burned at the stake or beaten to death? 

Then there are the saints who give up all their worldly possessions. People have historically called them ‘holy fools’. These days it is not so life threatening to be a Christian unless you live in Nigeria, Yemen, South Korea, Libya, Eritrean, etc. But to be a Christian and follow Jesus’ teachings require that we live a lifestyle totally contrary to the way the world has chosen to live.

The priest in this morning’s homily was saying that when he entered seminary for high school, he was quite idealistic. But then there were senior seminary students who asked if he had a girlfriend and he said he didn’t. He wanted to see if he could live celibate for the Lord. He was taunted for his choice. And so the world looks on and even encourages when women choose to kill their babies, when single people have one night stands, when married couples split up and look for other partners, not considering the emotional and psychological toll on souls that have been created by God to be pure and holy. 

Why is the world in such a terrible mess today? Because not many people are willing to be fools for the Lord! Are we convinced about what the Bible says? It isn’t always popular to accept what Jesus says, that He is the way, the truth and the life. And many think the Gospel of a crucified and resurrected Jesus makes no sense at all! If we seek the truth, if we want to be faithful to the truth, then no doubt the world will say, as they said of Jesus, “ They are out of their minds!” 

God Gives His Best

“He is the Lord’s anointed.” 1 Samuel 24:7

Saul wanted to kill David, but even when Saul entered the cave where David and his men were hiding, and David could easily have done away with Saul, David did not harm him. David restrained his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed.” David knew he would be King over Israel one day, as the prophet Samuel had sought him out, and anointed him. But David wisely waited on God’s timing. 

Sometimes we can be impatient and take things into our own hands. Yesterday I was just telling this story to my three year old grandchild:
There was a young boy who witnessed the difficulty of a butterfly coming out of its cocoon. He pitied the butterfly struggling to get free so much that he decided to help the butterfly out by cutting the cocoon. He did not know that these beautiful winged creatures release a chemical when they are getting out of the chrysalis. Their pushing and pulling movements within the cocoon pumps the chemical fluid into their wings, and this chemical strengthens their wings.

Because the boy helped the butterfly, when it emerged, its body was swollen and its wings weak and crumpled. The wings did not expand and it could not fly. 

Sometimes when we take matters into our own hands because we are impatient and cannot wait on God, our plans and dreams do not take flight. When we pray, I believe God puts things into place, and we should wait on His perfect time. I know this to be true, because when I was young, I asked God to be the one to choose my husband and I waited on God. I knew that I could not know who would be best for me and I would rather not get married than make a wrong decision. God chose Luigi and we got married when I was 37 years old. Luigi is absolutely the perfect husband for me! God truly gives His best when we leave the choice and the timing to Him.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

There is Always Healing

“He had cured many and as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon Him to touch Him.” Mark 3:10

Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. We can and should approach Him with what we need. Although some do not get the answers to prayer that we desire right away, Jesus does not mind if we keep pestering Him as evinced by His story of the persistent widow and the unjust judge in Luke 18:1-8. Here a woman seeking justice repeatedly approaches the judge who lacks compassion until he finally gives it to her. How much more will a Father of compassion and mercy listen to our pleas? 

Who does not like reading about miracles? God does healing miracles today and some have so much evidence it is undeniable. The late Dr. H. Richard Casdorph wrote a book, “The Miracles: A Doctor says Yes to Miracles!” where he interviewed ten people who had been healed after being prayed over. He examined all their case histories and also submitted them to medical specialists to see if he overlooked anything. The doctor was a pioneer in the medical field, one of the first doctors to integrate chelation therapy into his treatments of vascular disease. 

There’s the case of Lisa Larios who was diagnosed with cancer of the hip when she was just 12 years old. She could not walk without help so her parents brought her to a healing service of Kathryn Kuhlman. During the session in the large auditorium, Ms. Kuhlman said someone was being healed from cancer and should stand up. Lisa stood up and was able to walk after that. All her x-rays afterwards proved her hip was fully restored and the cancer gone. 

In the case of Marie Rosenberger, she was healed of a malignant tumor after her family spent an evening praying for her. Her husband stayed up all night and received a vision of the tumor being healed. Dr. Castorph’s book even reproduces the arteriograms of her case. Marie was not healed right away but her continuous improvement until her complete healing amazed the doctors because they did not expect her to live but she did! 

Whatever way God chooses to heal and make whole, whether instantaneously or slowly, there is always healing. Sometimes God chooses to heal completely and totally, not only the physical body, but even emotionally, and traumas are taken away. And although we usually fear it, death is the best healing of all, no more pain, no more problems and anxieties, no more dealing with a world gone mad! 

Father, thank You for Your healing mercy, no matter what form it takes. We trust in You because You keep Your promises. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

The Lord Will Never Forsake You

“You cannot go up against this Philistine and fight with him, for you are only a youth, while he has been a warrior from his youth.” 1 Samuel 17:33

The fight between David and Goliath is encouraging for everyone because everyone with no exception is fighting a battle against an enemy. For me, my doctor says pulmonary hypertension is progressive. I can give in to anxiety or fears for the future or I can choose to put my hope and trust in the One who keeps promises. He will be with me always. Whom should I fear? For others the challenge may be an unstable job, an addiction, a legal battle. No one escapes problems and trials.

My brother Robert is the most amazing person. He has been battling colon cancer for 7 or 8 years now. Just before Christmas last year, we discovered one of his caregivers had been drugging him, taking his cellphone while he was asleep. He changed Robert’s password on Google, and was able to access Robert’s bank account and credit card, and was able to steal his life savings in two months! After this horrifying turn of events, Robert announced in a news article, “I am blessed to know that the truest treasures are friends and family that show unconditional love.” He could choose to have hate and a desire for revenge in his heart yet he chooses to dwell on his blessings. 

In one of my favorite devotional books, “Streams in the Desert” compiled by Mrs. Charles Cowman, there is an entry for June 9, a story of a poor, colored woman. She earned a meager living out of hard daily labor but was a strong joyous Christian. 

One day a gloomy Christian lady said to her, “Ah, Nancy, ‘tis well enough to be happy now; but I should think the thoughts of your future would sober you. Only suppose, for instance, you should have a spell of sickness, and be unable to work; or suppose your present employers should move away, and no one else should give you anything to do; or suppose—"

"Stop!" cried Nancy, “I never supposes. De Lord is my Shepherd, and I knows I shall not want. And, Honey," she added, to her gloomy friend, “it's all dem supposes as is makin' you so mis'able. You'd better give dem all up, and just trust de Lord."

We can take to heart Hebrews 13:5-6, “Be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me."