Archive for category Lent

Mt 26:14-25 The betrayal of Judas

“The story is told again of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. This time the account is from Matthew. We must listen again and let it pierce our hearts. Before the Passover Judas goes to the authorities and asks what they are willing to give him if hand him Jesus over them. This is a business transaction, a deal. Jesus is a commodity, and money changes hands. 

Meanwhile, Jesus is making his own plans for the Passover meal, sending his disciples on  ahead into the city to arrange a house for a dinner. An anonymous donor lends Jesus his house. And dinner begins. As it grows dark, Jesus speaks: “I give you my word, one of you is about to betray me.” The rest of the group is distressed and each asks Jesus the same question: “Surely it is not I, Lord?” Jesus replies them with this harsh word: “He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is he one who will betray me.  The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born” (Mt 26:23-24). 

It was a custom among the tribes for either host or guest, or one of two close friends, to take a piece of  bread or meat and dip it in oil or wine and feed it to the other as a sign of closeness, of kinship. In fact, once a person had eaten at the  table in a Bedouin’s camp and shared food he literally was considered kin for the seventy-two hours that the food shared was in his body, bound even closer than by blood ties. Judas takes the food, and even bound as close as that to Jesus, he intends to betray him.” (Megan Mc Keena, Lent 1998, The Daily Readings, Orbis Books Maryknoll). ). By doing so, Jesus successfully shows to his disciples the horror of betrayal (committed by Judas) in the face of his act of hospitality (see JBC 61:176). Here the treachery of Judas is seen at its worst. He must have been the perfect actor and the perfect hypocrite. If the other disciples had known what Judas was about, he would never left that room alive. 

Table fellowship is a celebration of friendship and oneness of mind and heart.  Hearing Jesus accusing one of them being a traitor is indeed disturbing and shocking. Trying to lift the veil of gloom caused by Jesus’ words, each tried to assure him by asking, “Surely, it is not I Lord? Note that they address Jesus as “Lord,” a title that expresses their acceptance of the power of Jesus over them. 

In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the ineffable Hebrew name YHWH, by which God revealed himself to Moses (cf. Ex 3:14), is rendered Kyrios, “Lord.” From then on, “Lord” becomes the more usual name by which to indicate the divinity of Israel’s God. The New Testament uses this full sense of the title “Lord” both for the Father and –what is new-for Jesus, who thereby recognized as God himself (cf. 1 Cor 2:8). 

Very often in the Gospels people address Jesus as “Lord.” This title testifies to the respect and trust of those who approach him for help and healing (cf. Mt 8:2; 14:30; 15:22; et al.). At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, “Lord” expresses the recognition of the divine mystery of Jesus. In the encounter with the risen Jesus, this title becomes adoration: “My Lord and my God!” It thus takes on a connotation of love and affection that remains proper to the Christian tradition: It is the Lord!” (Jn 20:28; Jn 21:7). 

Judas Iscariot is the only one who addreses Jesus as “Rabbi”” which is also used by Jesus’ enemies and critics.  What makes Judas betray Jesus is more than just the love for money. Judas’ belief in Jesus’ person and mission has weakened or ceased altogether. He is scandalized, that is, he stumbles and loses faith in the Master.

“Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man. We can lose this priceless gift, as St. Paul indicated to St. Timothy: ‘Wage the good warfare, holding faith and good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made a shipwreck of their faith’ (1 Tm 1:18-19). To live, grow and persevere in the faith until the end, we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith” (CCC 162). 

Officially, today is the last day of Lent. Our Journey is complete. Now we go to celebrate Easter. Alexander Schmemann, a great liturgical scholar, writes: 

Even though we are baptized, what we constantly lose and betray is precisely that which we receive at baptism. Therefore, Easter is our return every year to our baptism, whereas Lent is our preparation for that return-the slow and sustained effort to perform, at the end, our passage into new life in Christ…Each Lent and Easter are, once again, the rediscovery and the recovery by us of what we were made through our own baptismal death and resurrection. 

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Mt 4:1-11 TEMPTATION OF JESUS

The longing and  desire for heaven  or the single indestructible longing for God, for an eternity spent in intimate, blessed communion with him is the deepest desire of human heart. Heaven is “the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness” (CCC 1024). This is always what we pray for, what we strive for, what we hope for. But there were and will always be temptations, trials and tests on the way that will prevent us, hinder us and steal away from us the heaven that we long for.  

The Gospel for today tells of Jesus’ retreat and temptation in the desert and the beginning of his preaching of God’s good news. Today’s Gospel simply tells of Satan tempting Jesus without describing the nature of temptation. But what is clear is that Jesus passed the test and overcame the test and temptation. 

What is temptation? A temptation is anything than inclines a person to commit sin. It is enticement to evil, seduction to sin and death. Though it is not a sin it is more than trial or test because it lead us to sin. Once we enter into, give in to and submit to, temptation we are already committing sin which will bring us alienation, corruption, death and ultimately hell where Satan reigns and where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth because of it unquenchable fire.  

What distinguishes temptation from trial? Trials or tests are necessary for growth while temptations incline us to sin. “No one who is tempted is free to say, “I am being tempted by God.” Surely God, who is beyond the grasp of evil, tempts no one” (Jas 1:13). God tests the heart puts his own in trial (1Th 2, 4) while only Satan tempts them (Lk 22,37; Ap 2, 10; 12,9). Trial is indispensable condition for growth (cf. Lk 8, 13ff), for sturdiness (1 P 1, 6f), for the manifestation of the truth (1 Co 11, 9: the reason for Christian divisions) and humility (1 Co 10, 12). When we overcome trials, temptations we are proven to be steady and strong (subok na matatag at subok na matibay. Thus freed, tried and tested Christian knows how to discern, verify and “try” everything (R 12, 2; E 5, 10). Trial is therefore the condition of the Church which is still to be tested, although she is already pure; stll to be reformed, although she is already glorious. 

St. Paul assures us that “God will not let you be tested beyond your strength. Along with the test he will give you a way out of it so that you may be able to endure it” ( 1 Cor 10:13; cf. CCC 2848). In fact St. Paul wrote that we should even boast of our tests/afflictions, knowing that afflictions produce endurance, and endurance, proven virtue (cf. Rom 5:3-5; CCC 2897). 

Sources of temptations.  

  • Some temptations arise from within ourselves. “The tug and lure of his own passion has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin reaches maturity it begets death” (cf. Jas 1:14).
    • Our passions and emotions incline us to long for attractive gratifications even through doing acts we know are evil.
    • Pride incline us to sin.
    • Imperfection of our very nature are sources of sin more particularly concupiscence and bad habits or vices. 

 

  • We also experience temptations from the world. Persons, places and things can be occasion of sins to us. Even things good in themselves can be incitements in us to seek the attractive goods in unreasonable ways.  
  • Faith also recognizes Satan, once an angel, but now hostile to God and to us, as one source of temptation. In his hatred for God, he seeks to drive us toward sinful and self-destructive choices (CCC 394-395).

Consequence of being tempted: slavery to sin, alienation and separation, death and ultimately hell where Satan dwells and where Satan reigns and where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth because of it unquenchable fire.

 How do we handle with temptations?  

  • Avoid temptations and keep yourself busy. Idleness is the workshop of the devil. 
  • Resistance, faith and vigilance. Stay sober and alert because your enemy the Devil is like a prowling lion, waiting for someone to devour. Resist him and solid in your faith. 
  • Prayer. In communion with their master, the disciples’ prayer is a battle; “only by keeping watch in prayer can one avoid falling into temptation” ( cf. Lk 22:40, 46). “Pray that he will not let you be tested beyond your strength” (cf. 1 Cor 10:13). Pray that the Father “lead us not into temptations and allow us to be overcome by it (cf. CCC 2846). Nothing is equal to prayer; for what is impossible it makes possible, what is difficult, easy…Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned. 
  • Repentance and conversion. Always return to the Lord with fasting, weeping and mourning. For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, rich in kindness and relenting in punishment.  
  • Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Always seek in everything the will of God. Nothing more, nothing less and nothing else.  

Temptations are not themselves sins and no one entirely escape temptation. Hence, every time we celebrate the holy sacrifice of the Mass let us always pray that God our Father “lead us not into temptations and allow us to overcome by it (cf. CCC 2840)” then address this prayer to him: “Deliver us Lord from all evil and grant  us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us pray from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our savior Jesus Christ”  (Missale Romanum, Embolism after the Lord’s Prayer, 126).  

“Happy is the man who holds out to the end through trial! Once he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life the Lord has promise to those who love him” (Jas 3:12)

 

 

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Mt 6:1-6, 16-18 ALMSGIVING, PRAYER AND FASTING

Today is Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday begins the great season of Lent, when we are invited to “return sincerely to the Lord our God with fasting prayer and mourning” (Jl  2:12) and to offer to God a sacrifice of a humble and contrite spirit.  It is the time of the year when we are reminded again that we are dust, and to dust we will return. On a more positive note, we are reminded “to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” 

Today is universal day of fasting and abstinence. Catholics all over the world are encouraged to pray, to fast and abstain, and to share to the poor and the needy. Simply put, to do penance. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer and almsgiving (Cf. Tob 12:8; Mt 6:1-18), which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God and to others (CCC 1434).  

What is penance? What does it mean to do penance? “Penance is concrete daily effort of a person, supported by God’s grace to lose his/her own life for Christ as the only means of gaining it; an effort to put off the old man and put on the new; an effort to overcome in oneself what is of the flesh in order that what is spiritual may prevail; it is a continual effort to rise from the thing of here below to things above, where Christ is. Penance is ,therefore, a conversion that passes from the heart to deeds to the Christian whole life” (JP, PR) 

Penance such as prayer, fasting and almsgiving prepare us for the liturgical feast; they help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart (Cf. CIC, cann. 1249-1251; CCEO. Can. 882) 

How do we make our penance fruitful and meaningful? 

  • Let us do our penance out of personal conviction and in freedom. Let us guard ourselves of legal formalism and superficiality which the prophets had already denounced, pride and ostentations if one fasts “in order to be seen by men. It must be done in secret, with sincerity and voluntarily.  
  • Let us fast, pray and share to the needy as our penance out of our love for God and neighbor. This is the greatest commandment. This is the summary of the all the laws of Moses and the teachings of the prophets. Nothing more, nothing less and nothing else.  
  • “This rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread to the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked, and not turning your back on your own” (Is 58:6-8).  
  • Penance finds its fulfillment, meaning and relevance only in the context of “Jesus call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, “sackcloth and ashes”, fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance (Cf. 2:12-13; Is. 1:16-17; Mt. 6;1-6; 16-18).

Interior repentance is a radical orientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our hearts, an end to sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus (affliction of the spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of the heart) (Cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1676-1678; 1705; cf. Roman Catechism, II, V, 4). 

Fasting, prayers and almsgiving are interconnected and complimentary. Fasting is the soul of prayer. Mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So when you pray, fast; when you fast, show mercy. 

Starting this Ash Wednesday as we begin the season of lent, strive to be humble and “return to God with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts not your garments, and return to the Lord  your God. For gracious and merciful is He, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment” (Jl 2:12-13). 

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Luke 4:1-13 Temptation of Jesus

The longing and  desire for heaven  or the single indestructible longing for God, for an eternity spent in intimate, blessed communion with him is the deepest desire of human heart. Heaven is “the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness” (CCC 1024). This is always what we pray for, what we strive for, what we hope for. But there were and will always be temptations, trials and tests on the way that will prevent us, hinder us and steal away from us the heaven that we long for.

The Gospel for today tells of Jesus’ retreat and temptation in the desert and the beginning of his preaching of God’s good news. Today’s Gospel simply tells of Satan tempting Jesus without describing the nature of temptation. But what is clear is that Jesus passed the test and overcame the test and temptation.

What is temptation? A temptation is anything than inclines a person to commit sin. It is enticement to evil, seduction to sin and death. Though it is not a sin it is more than trial or test because it lead us to sin. Once we enter into, give in to and submit to, temptation we are already committing sin which will bring us alienation, corruption, death and ultimately hell where Satan reigns and where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth because of it unquenchable fire.

What distinguishes temptation from trial? Trials or tests are necessary for growth while temptations incline us to sin. “No one who is tempted is free to say, “I am being tempted by God.” Surely God, who is beyond the grasp of evil, tempts no one” (Jas 1:13). God tests the heart puts his own in trial (1Th 2, 4) while only Satan tempts them (Lk 22,37; Ap 2, 10; 12,9). Trial is indispensable condition for growth (cf. Lk 8, 13ff), for sturdiness (1 P 1, 6f), for the manifestation of the truth (1 Co 11, 9: the reason for Christian divisions) and humility (1 Co 10, 12). When we overcome trials, temptations we are proven to be steady and strong (subok na matatag at subok na matibay. Thus freed, tried and tested Christian knows how to discern, verify and “try” everything (R 12, 2; E 5, 10). Trial is therefore the condition of the Church which is still to be tested, although she is already pure; stll to be reformed, although she is already glorious.

St. Paul assures us that “God will not let you be tested beyond your strength. Along with the test he will give you a way out of it so that you may be able to endure it” ( 1 Cor 10:13; cf. CCC 2848). In fact St. Paul wrote that we should even boast of our tests/afflictions, knowing that afflictions produce endurance, and endurance, proven virtue (cf. Rom 5:3-5; CCC 2897).

Sources of temptations:

  • Some temptations arise from within ourselves. “The tug and lure of      his own passion has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin reaches      maturity it begets death” (cf. Jas 1:14).
    • Our passions and emotions incline us to long for attractive gratifications even through doing acts we know are evil.
    • Pride incline us to sin.
    • Imperfection of our very nature are sources of sin more particularly concupiscence and bad habits or vices.
  • We also experience temptations from the world. Persons, places and      things can be occasion of sins to us. Even things good in themselves can      be incitements in us to seek the attractive goods in unreasonable ways.
  • Faith also recognizes Satan, once an angel, but now hostile to God      and to us, as one source of temptation. In his hatred for God, he seeks to      drive us toward sinful and self-destructive choices (CCC 394-395).

Consequence of being tempted: slavery to sin, alienation and separation, death and ultimately hell where Satan dwells and where Satan reigns and where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth because of it unquenchable fire.

How do we handle with temptations?

  • Avoid temptations and keep yourself busy. Idleness is the workshop of the devil.
  • Resistance, faith and vigilance. Stay sober and alert because your enemy the Devil is like a prowling lion, waiting for someone to devour. Resist him and solid in your faith.
  • Prayer. In communion with their master, the disciples’ prayer is a battle; “only by keeping watch in prayer can one avoid falling into temptation” ( cf. Lk 22:40, 46). “Pray that he will not let you be tested beyond your strength” (cf. 1 Cor 10:13). Pray that the Father “lead us not into temptations and allow us to be overcome by it (cf. CCC 2846). Nothing is equal to prayer; for what is impossible it makes possible, what is difficult, easy…Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned.
  • Repentance and conversion. Always return to the Lord with fasting, weeping and mourning. For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, rich in kindness and relenting in punishment.
  • Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Always seek in everything the will of God. Nothing more, nothing less and nothing else.

Temptations are not themselves sins and no one entirely escape temptation. Hence, every time we celebrate the holy sacrifice of the Mass let us always pray that God our Father “lead us not into temptations and allow us to overcome by it (cf. CCC 2840)” then address this prayer to him: “Deliver us Lord from all evil and grant  us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us pray from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our savior Jesus Christ”  (Missale Romanum, Embolism after the Lord’s Prayer, 126).

“Happy is the man who holds out to the end through trial! Once he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life the Lord has promise to those who love him” (Jas 3:12)

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Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday begins the great season of Lent, when we are invited to “return sincerely to the Lord our God with fasting prayer and mourning” (Jl  2:12) and to offer to God a sacrifice of a humble and contrite spirit.  It is the time of the year when we are reminded again that we are dust, and to dust we will return. On a more positive note, we are reminded “to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”

Today is universal day of fasting and abstinence. Catholics all over the world are encouraged to pray, to fast and abstain, and to share to the poor and the needy. Simply put, to do penance. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer and almsgiving (Cf. Tob 12:8; Mt 6:1-18), which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God and to others (CCC 1434). 

What is penance? What does it mean to do penance? “Penance is concrete daily effort of a person, supported by God’s grace to lose his/her own life for Christ as the only means of gaining it; an effort to put off the old man and put on the new; an effort to overcome in oneself what is of the flesh in order that what is spiritual may prevail; it is a continual effort to rise from the thing of here below to things above, where Christ is. Penance is ,therefore, a conversion that passes from the heart to deeds to the Christian whole life” (JP, PR)

Penance such as prayer, fasting and almsgiving prepare us for the liturgical feast; they help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart (Cf. CIC, cann. 1249-1251; CCEO. Can. 882) 

How do we make our penance fruitful and meaningful?

  • Let us do our penance out of personal      conviction and in freedom. Let us guard ourselves of legal formalism and      superficiality which the prophets had already denounced, pride and      ostentations if one fasts “in order to be seen by men. It must be done in      secret, with sincerity and voluntarily.
  • Let us fast, pray and share to the needy as      our penance out of our love for God and neighbor. This is the greatest      commandment. This is the summary of the all the laws of Moses and the teachings      of the prophets. Nothing more, nothing less and nothing else.
  • “This rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing      those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the      oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread to the hungry,      sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked, and not      turning your back on your own” (Is 58:6-8).
  • Penance finds its fulfillment, meaning and      relevance only in the context of “Jesus call to conversion and penance,      like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works,      “sackcloth and ashes”, fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of      the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile      and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs,      gestures and works of penance (Cf. 2:12-13; Is. 1:16-17; Mt. 6;1-6;      16-18).

Interior repentance is a radical orientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our hearts, an end to sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus (affliction of the spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of the heart) (Cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1676-1678; 1705; cf. Roman Catechism, II, V, 4).

Fasting, prayers and almsgiving are interconnected and complimentary. Fasting is the soul of prayer. Mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So when you pray, fast; when you fast, show mercy.

Starting this Ash Wednesday as we begin the season of lent, strive to be humble and “return to God with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts not your garments, and return to the Lord  your God. For gracious and merciful is He, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment” (Jl 2:12-13).

 

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Lk 13:1-9: A Call to Repentance

Moments

Concrete

By Fr. Jerry Orbos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:15:00 03/06/2010

MANILA, Philippines—Did you hear the story about a thief who was caught stealing a truckload of cement? He was apprehended right away. Why? Because the evidence was very concrete!

* * *

In today’s Gospel (Lk. 13, 1-9), Jesus tells the parable of the fig tree that was given all the chance to bear fruit but didn’t. We too are to bear fruits, and our Lenten repentance must be concrete. It is not enough to say “I’m sorry” and go on sinning anyway.

* * *

Righteousness is who you are before God and not who you are compared to others. Let us not fall into the sin of self-righteousness and spiritual pride. The best starting point is humility—I am a sinner, but you, O God, are loving and merciful.

* * *

God has a hard time dealing with self-righteous people who claim that they deserve His love precisely because they think they are good. Remember the story of the prodigal son and the righteous son? The forgiven one became grateful while the good one became resentful.

* * *

May everything we do in life, especially this Lenten season be borne out of gratitude and love for Him who loves us tremendously and who has forgiven us so many times unconditionally. A proud person does not know what gratitude really means. A “self-made” person, for that matter, has no idea as to what grace, amazing grace, is all about.

* * *

Instead of thinking of God as the all-seeing scorer up there, complete with binoculars and camera, why don’t we see Him more as a real companion and a Father with a heart down here?

* * *

In the renewal of vows on their 60th wedding anniversary recently, Aurelio Bautista said to his wife: “I love you Auring all these years.” To which Aurora Bautista simply replied: “I loved you twice as much all these years!” That’s it. That’s the secret for a relationship to grow and last. Someone has to love more. Otherwise it’s only justice we are talking about. Love is the constant going, the extra mile, and the giving of one more smile.

* * *

We can never reciprocate God’s love. God is always the gracious one. He is the God who reaches out, and He can never be outdone in love and generosity. This realization should lead us to humility and gratitude toward Him and toward our fellow-sinner brothers and sisters.

* * *

We are experiencing drought in many places in our country these days. Let us pray for rain to water our plants and trees again. The absence or lack of water affects not only the quantity but also the quality of the fruits of the earth. There is another kind of drought that we can experience, and that is spiritual drought. Let us make sure that we do not neglect nourishing our souls.

* * *

Are you one of those people who just “exhaust the soil”? Are you just all grandeur and pleasure? Are you contributing to the betterment of this world or are you just occupying space? As someone once said, service is our rent for our stay in this world. This Lenten season, let us check if we are paying our rent.

* * *

For Lent, why don’t you have a “project” which only you and the Father would know? Do something good, give up something bad, and let this all be done in secret, and you will experience a joy which the world cannot give nor take away.

* * *

Today, the Lord reminds us that He is a God who gives us many chances, but He also is a God who will make final reckoning and judgment. This is a warning for those who think they will get away with all their wrongdoing. Your day will come. This also serves as a consolation for those who hope in God’s goodness and love. Your day, too, will come.

* * *

By the way, is camote (sweet potato) a fruit or vegetable? Someone once said that it is a fruit because when you eat too much of it, the musical tune “fruittt” comes out!

* * *

Please do not forget that one of the fruits of the Spirit is joy. We need people who lift us from our darkness, and remind us that life is not all about work and cares. Yes, we need people who point to the “big picture”—that there is a God who is in control, who is the Father of us all.

* * *

Let us take time to examine the kind of life we are living. Concretely speaking, does our faith make us better persons, better citizens of this country and of this world? Our faith must bear fruits that are concrete, and that will endure and last.

* * *

If you are going through any kind of pruning right now, be consoled with the thought that pruning leads to fruit-bearing. All our hard work, trials and sufferings, so to say, will bear fruit someday. Praying, hoping that all of us will live fruitful lives.

* * *

A moment with the Lord:

Lord, remind me that my faith is not complete if it is not concrete. Amen.

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Word Alive

Do we heed His warning?

By FR. BEL R. SAN LUIS, SVD

March 5, 2010, 4:32pm

When Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991 causing great devastation to Zambales and Pampanga provinces, not a few considered it as God’s wrath over two “cities of sin” located within those provinces.

There was a rich man who fell into a sickness which the best doctors in Manila could not diagnose. People in the know said he had no appetite to eat and was wasting away. Many of them believed his sickness was not physical but spiritual (na-karma). For many years, the man had been operating an illegal gambling which pervaded the whole of Southern Luzon.

* * *

These tragedies are contemporary events which may be compared to the ones mentioned in the gospel of this 3rd Sunday of Lent. One of these was the ruthless murder of some Galileans while they were offering their temple sacrifices. The victims were probably political agitators and this was Pilate’s way of getting rid of them.

The other incident was a construction accident wherein 18 innocent people were crushed to death by a falling tower in Siloam (Lk 13,1).

* * *

Like the people in the gospel, perhaps we are tempted to feel that the victims of destructive calamities were punished for their sins or their relatives’ offenses.

But Jesus warns us, as he repeatedly does in his teachings, that it is not for us to judge people and their sins. No one but God really knows what is in the human heart.

* * *

Rather than judge the victims of tragedies or their perceived causes, we should learn from their experience by reminding us that we, too, will face eternal damnation unless we’re sorry for our sins and reform.

“You will all come to the same end unless you turn away from your sins,” Jesus says.

* * *

ONE MORE CHANCE. Jesus’ warning is followed by a parable about a fig tree. Usually it takes a fig tree three years to mature and bear fruit. If it does not bear fruit by that time, it likely never will and so it can be cut down.

But this fig tree had already been allotted twice the number of years for it to bear fruit. Still the owner gives the fig tree one more chance, ordering the vinedressers to cultivate and manure it.

* * *

The fig-tree parable conveys the message that God is very patient with us. God is more than generous with the opportunities for us to reform our lives.

There’s a story of a man living in the hurricane-prone suburbs of Florida. He went to a department store downtown and bought a fine barometer. Delighted with his acquisition, he hurried home and proudly hung it on his living room wall. But what he saw made him very angry: the barometer reading indicated “Hurricane!”

* * *

Convinced that he had been sold a defective instrument, he walked back to the department store, handed the barometer to the sales clerk, and snorted, “Hey, what’s this barometer you sold me, ha? I put it up in my house and what do you suppose it registered? ‘Hurricane!” To which the sales clerk replied, “But what I sold you was brand-new?”

* * *

“No, I don’t like this instrument,” he said angrily, “I want a replacement.” “No problem,” the store owner said. “I’ll replace it in a minute.”

The man headed for home with his new barometer, but by the time he arrived there, his house had been blown away!

* * *

We are in the season of Lent and God affords us this time as a grace to be sorry.

Instead of covering up our faults, instead of justifying ourselves or blaming others, let’s face the truth about ourselves and make the necessary step to reform – before it’s too late.

* * *

FAMILY TV MASS – is aired by the SVD Mission Communications Foundation, Inc. (MCFI) on IBC 13 at 9-10 a.m. every Sunday.

This Sunday’s sponsor: National Shrine of the Divine Mercy, Marilao, Bulacan. Celebrant: Fr. Mar DJ ARENAS.

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