Friday, February 12, 2021

Just Because



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

Thursday, December 3, 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

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Lesson of the Lemongrass



I’ve been planting indoor plants. And having grown up in a tropical country, I wanted to plant some tropical plants that will give semblance to it. One of the plants that I have is the Lemongrass (Tanglad). It almost died because probably I overfed it and put it in a place with less sunlight. So, it was a series of trial and error and finally I trimmed it and put it in the sunny side of the room. I thought it was going to die… It almost did, however from the trimmed parts, it slowly sprout forth and became so alive. 

Plants grow if you take care of them. Sometime the method can be painful because you have to trim them. However, the result are new healthy sprouts. Life can be like that, we are being taken cared of, however it cannot be the we will just be left to grow in the wrong ways. We cannot just grow anywhere we want, a person without a moral compass. Sometimes, we have to be pruned in order to correct what is wrong. In that way, we will grow correctly and we can arrive at the right destination. Do not be afraid of pruning, there is sprout that will come after, a new you. (Ang halaman tutubo kung inaalagaan. Minsan masakit ang paraan kasi kailangan putulin yung ibang mga sanga nito. Pero ang kapalit naman nito ay mga bagong sibol na malulusog at malalagong sanga. Ganyan din ang buhay, inaalagaan tayo, ngunit hindi ibig sabihin pababayaan nalang tayong tumubo kahit sa mga maling paraan. Hindi puedeng tutubo nalang tayo kung saan saan, kailangan may puputulin para itama tayo sa landas at marating ang patutunguhan. Huwag matakot putulan, may bagong sisibol, bagong ikaw.) 

by aats

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The Ways of Children


I was watching Korean kids singing. What an inspiring voice and yes, inspiring ways. They’re just having fun. Oh, the innocence of a child! Full of joy, love and trust. They seem to understand what truly makes life beautiful. Why did we outgrow it? Now, instead of joy, worries; instead of love, hatred; instead of trust, duplicity.

 

If you are unhappy, worried and feeling betrayed, Jesus is telling you again “Be like a child, because I’ll tell you the truth, unless you change and become like them, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3. You don’t have to wait for heaven, you can have it now. Be childlike (not childish), and you will experience heaven in your heart. You will have peace, joy and love just like the children.

 

Oh if only we learn the ways of a child, what a different world will it be.


by aats

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Let Us Progress

canmore

People change, so is our outlook in life. Our hope though is that when we change, we don’t regress instead we progress, becoming better, freer, and happier.

 

Can there be a more beautiful person than the one who is molded by experience and was able to rise up with a better character?

 

Can there be a more beautiful person than the one who has gone through forks of life, made some good and bad decisions and some U-turn’s and became more mature and at peace, making him freer?

 

Can there be a more beautiful person than the one who have gone through a lot of challenges and found the reality and necessity of God in his life, learning in the process the posture of constancy in God, making him happier whatever circumstances he is in?

 

Lord allow us to look at change as opportunity for growth and our experiences as classroom for life lessons. Amen.


by aats

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The Practical and Convenient


G.K. Chesterton once said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

 

It’s so good to listen to heartwarming and affirming talk about faith, hope and love. But once confronted with the reality of walking our faith, practicality and convenience takes the lead. It’s so easy to throw away to the trash what we believe. “Yeah I know, but God is love, he will understand, this is the most practical and convenient way to do it now.” Whatever is practical and convenience, yes, that’s Christianity?

 

The Church and yes, communities therefore are important because it provides an environment where we can live together in the life of Christ. Community provides opportunity for our spiritual growth. So, if we in community fails to guide and correct one another, then there’s no point of Christian communal life. We might just as well turn into any organization whose objectives are just networking and feel good get together.

 

Once we start seriously considering the words of Jesus, slowly the demands of Christianity become clear and even scary at times. We love the message of love and compassion and yet when the demands of truth and firmness in faith arise, we shrink. We find it difficult to put in practice. We find ourselves cowards when challenged!

 

The beauty of Christianity is that, it does not look down human weakness instead it encourages, challenges and pushes humanity to try the ideal.


by aats

Friday, May 15, 2020

Covid Thoughts


Some thoughts in this covid pandemic time: 

  1. When we choose Christ first, everything else will just fall into place. Whether faster or slower, it will fall into place.
  2. Moments of God are moments of grace. It doesn’t matter if the moments happen in the church or at home or in the streets. When we are conscious of His presence, God is there and it is grace.
  3. Life is simple. Don’t complicate things. The more we simplify the happier we are. Uncomplicated people are happy people.
  4. Live life. Laugh hard. Love sincerely. Choose joy, happiness is looking at what is good, whether it’s in a situation or people.
  5. Allow surprises. Don’t be too rigid, don’t worry too much and don’t over plan; you will miss the exhilaration of life.
  6. Things may look ugly but there is still beauty that you can find. Look for it, find it.
  7. “Social distancing” may seem hard but alone time pushes us to look at ourselves and do some self-assessments. Hopefully it will lead us more to Christ and make us a better person.

by aats