Wednesday, February 7, 2024

How Come You Can’t See It?

“And he was amazed at their unbelief.” Mark 6:6 

When we talk about spirited conversation on certain topics and the discussion becomes very intense and we want to convey to someone what we mean, it’s quiet frustrating if not exasperating why they can’t see what you see. It’s even more frustrating when others can’t believe what you believe. How come you can’t see it? It’s there in front of your eyes!” These words probably had been uttered at you or you saying it to someone. Then of course, there are things that are common sense, but still, they couldn’t sense it. For example, respecting someone’s opinion on faith. Even though you are both Catholics, it’s frustrating how someone justifies something that is defined as sin by the church. 

Jesus has a suggestion, “Leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as testimony against them.” Mark 6:11. Yes, we should not deprive others of the truth of Christ and we should share the word of God. However, if they still won’t believe or at least open their minds to it and start making you felt unwelcome or even assaulted, then go and leave and continue sharing the word to others who are willing. 

If in one way or another it is us who has the unbelief, let us pray, “Have patience with me Lord, help my unbelief, grant me the grace to see what you want to see. Amen.”

by aats

Thursday, January 25, 2024

How Can We Change?

Today is the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul and the first reading recounts a great light blinding him and a voice came upon telling it is Jesus whom he is persecuting. He was told by the Voice to go to Damascus and there he will be told what to do. Ananias spoke and he regained his sight and was told that he was designated “to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear the sound of his voice.” (Acts 22:3-16) 

When God speaks it is for us to respond if we are to follow through what is being told of us. It will be unfortunate not to, because God will never tell us to do something that will cause us harm. Following God will always bring goodness in our lives and the lives of those around us specially our families. 

Personal decision then is crucial, like Paul who heard the call and followed through what was being asked of him, a new eyesight was opened, the eyes of faith. With the eyes of faith, he never saw the world again the way he did. 

The conversion of Saint Paul is a beautiful example of how God can invite us, even in our worst personal condition. He can transform even the hardest of heart. 

But how can we hear the call if we don’t listen? How can our lives change if we do not follow through what we were told?

by aats

Friday, May 27, 2022

Of Blessings

"He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Matthew 5:45

Talking about blessings, some people I've encountered will say, "I haven't been blessed with answered prayers." "I'm still waiting for a blessing." If I may say something, I think that the problem is not that we are not blessed, because we are. The bible even says, the sun rises on good and evil and God sends the rain for both the righteous and the unrighteous. Blessing surrounds us like the sun and the rain. The problem is that we are not sensitive enough to recognize it. Sometimes we are too focused on what we want that we fail to see blessing is already raining on us. We relate blessing with receiving what we prayed for, it is true but it is also true that even if we haven't received what we prayed for, there are many other blessings that we forget to see. So it is not that we are not blessed but we missed it at times. 

Even if we are in the right place and time, we might still miss the blessing if we are not in the right mind.

Lord, grant us the grace to always recognize blessings. Amen. 

by aats 

Friday, May 20, 2022

Of Essence

Mission always brings you to what is essential in life. What is essential to you? 

Eventually our happiness depends on what we find of essence in our life. 

by aats

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

When They Look at You

“For God so love the world that He gave his only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” - John 3:16 

Isn’t it the nature of man, whether Christians or not, that we think of the good of others? Even non-believers believe in giving there only time, talent, treasure for the one they so love the most. This is what we believe in our Christian faith, and this is what we aspire to do. This verse from the gospel of John, speaks of the truth of the human heart that can only come from the One who created us. The Creator created us in His image and likeness and this includes the innate desire to give ourselves to others. 

Isn’t this the essence of Christianity? “…That whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The question is: When they believe and trust in you, will they get perish, lost or hurt, or will they have “eternal life”, like clarity in purpose, joy in everyday living or love in relationships? When they look at you will they see a glimpse of eternity or just a fleeting presence? 

Isn’t it when we give ourselves, even our own safety for the safety of others, we experience this unexplainable joy and fulfillment? Isn’t it a glimpse of eternal life? If we try to use this verse as a practice, “For God so love the world…” Can we say, “For I so love you that I will give my only money, for you to be able to eat today”, or “For I so love you that I will give my only time so that you can be with your wife today,” or “For I so love my family, that I will give my only time just to work hard, so my family might have a better life.”? Maybe one of the best ways to gauge our Christian growth is when at the end of our life someone will testify and say, “For Carl so love me that he gave his work time to be with me when I was at my lowest (he didn’t know I was on the brink of suicide), he sacrificed his work, for me to live.”

by aats

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Of Waiting

On Luke 2:22-35

Simeon had been waiting for the promise of God, "He would not die before he had seen the Lord's Messiah". It must had been a long wait. And just like any waiting, it can be tiring and frustrating. But Simeon is different, he persevered and persisted, firmly believing in the promise of God. The moment finally came, prompted by the Spirit, he went to the temple courts and not only did he saw the Messiah, he was able to take him into his arms. 

The Lord is a promise keeper. Wait, believe and marvel at the goodness of God. When the time of fulfilment comes, you will not only see blessing, you will take it into your arms. 

What have you been waiting for?

by aats

Friday, February 12, 2021

Adam, Eve and the Garden

Today’s 1st reading narrates the story of how the serpent tempted Eve and then Eve to Adam.
“The serpent was the most subtle of all the wild beasts that the Lord God had made. It asked the woman, ‘Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?’ The woman answered the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden. But of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, “You must not eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death.”’ Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘No! You will not die! God knows in fact that on the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.’ The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye, and that it was desirable for the knowledge that it could give. So she took some of its fruit and ate it. She gave some also to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized that they were naked. So they sewed fig-leaves together to make themselves loin-cloths.” 

“The man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” Genesis 3:1-8 

When Eve said she cannot eat because she will die. The devil said, “No you won’t, you will live, in fact you will become like God!" After the devil’s persuasive words, suddenly Eve looks at the tree differently, it becomes pleasing to the eye and good to eat. This kind of convincing words sounds familiar specially when we buy some stuff, like phone. You will say, “O I don't need that.” And then the guy will tell you, “But if you upgrade to this phone, it will make your communication easier and safer because of these and that features”. Once we got hook up with the words that “it will make our communication easier” we buy it and then we go back home only to realize we are already way beyond our budget. 

I think this story in Genesis is the first account of aggressive marketing! 

This narrative keeps on repeating even until now in our daily life. We start with good intention, “I will expand my business so I can help more people.” So far, good. Then along the way, someone will tell us, “To increase your profit, you should hide your real sales in order to have less tax.” And we reply, “No, that is not good and it is against the law.” But then we hear the argument, “But everyone is doing it anyway, and besides you can use your money to help others.” Then like Eve, we start to look at it in a different way, it becomes pleasing to the eyes and good to do. 

So, two things: 

1. Just because it sounds good does not mean it is good. Arguments can be deceiving. We have to stand on moral grounds or else we will be hurting people and, in the end, hurt ourselves. 

2. Just because the “fruit” looks good does not mean it is beneficial. Looks can be deceiving. So, for example in relationships, always go deeper. If we want to know the real thing, go beyond hi/hello and virtual friendship. Relationship in surface level is no relationship at all. 

Now, what was the first realization of Eve and Adam upon eating the fruit? They realized they were naked. The innocence was gone. When before there was no malice in nakedness, now they’re noticing it. Once we act on the temptation, our innocence is broken, we now look things with malice. 

Lastly, what were their reaction upon seeing that they’re naked? They hide. They remembered the word of God and they felt afraid and ashamed. Once we realize that we did something bad, we feel afraid and ashamed and it cripples us. 

Lord, grant us a discerning heart so that we can fully participate in what is true, good and beautiful in life. Amen.

by aats

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Still Small Voice

When our calling is blurred because of nuances such as hurts, pains, uncertainties, stilling our mind and focusing on Him who called us makes the difference. This can be a crossroad and a breaking point that will give us a breakthrough. Or this can be a purification of character that will make us a better person. But the question is, what and who are we listening? Are we “still” enough to listen to the “still small voice.”? 1 Kings 19:12a 

The problem of not knowing what to do and how to react is the urging desire to always be heard and validated. And then, there is tendency to want to know everything. There is nothing wrong with it, however when that becomes our obsession, then it's like being obsessed of self. Self-obsession clouds our hearts and minds, depriving us in grasping “The Voice” that gives life, peace and joy. 

It’s so easy to confuse the calling with our own desires for the calling. But it will only be clear if there is willingness to be humble and listen.

by aats

Sunday, January 24, 2021

No Evil Person

No evil person looks in the mirror and thinks they're evil, as much as no liars looks in the mirror and thinks they’re liars. 

Some people insist always on what they believe is right, but the problem is what they believe can be wrong. The important thing then is to be informed as much as possible and to take all the different angles in order to get the whole perspective of a situation. Way better is to leave a healthy self-doubt in order to give room for the possibility that we can be wrong. Then we can look at the mirror and can think, ‘Yes there can be a possibility that I can do evil or I can lie.’ 

Why not acknowledge the goodness in ourselves and look at the mirror and say, “I am created in goodness and I am capable of doing good; I am created in truth and I can stand in truth.”? 

by aats

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Jesus Saw Through Their Hypocrisy

A discerning heart knows when a question is not to be taken at face value. The Pharisees tried to catch Jesus with his words. They ask a question, but Jesus saw through their hypocrisy (Mark 12:15). They thought they catch him with their question but Jesus answered them with wisdom. Then on some other occasion like when he was asked by Pilate, he refrained from answering (Matthew 27:14). Each situation requires a certain response. 

Jesus knew the malice behind the question. Those who were opposed to Jesus couldn’t just accept Him, they’re terrified that the status quo will change. They cling on to the letters of the law, becoming rigid because they don’t like change. But when the same pharisees complained that his disciples were doing what was forbidden on Sabbath, Jesus answered them “There is something greater than the temple here… the Lord of the Sabbath… I desire mercy not sacrifice.” Matthew 12:5-8 (paraphrased). They were not after the law; they have hidden motives. There questions and complaints hide behind logical words but Jesus saw beyond that. The real motive of the heart speaks no matter how it is hidden in beautiful words. 

In our modern days, it pays to discern the motives of the heart. Some people do not deserve an answer. Why? Because their question is filled with malice. Malicious people do not deserve an answer, it is pointless and useless. 

If we do choose to answer, answer them in a way that will unveil their hypocrisy. 

May we find it within our hearts the desire to do good for others. Amen.

by aats