Monday, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, 11 November 2019
Wisdom 1:1-7 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 17:1-6
It is the start of work and school today, Lord.
Thank you for our jobs, thank you for our schools, thank you for the food and clothes we have.
Thank you very much for the gift of self and most especially for the gift of others.
Unfortunately, O Lord, they are the ones we always hurt with our painful words, and yes, with all sorts of profanities.
If our words were like swords or clubs, or even at least like thorns of the cactus, everyone of us would be beaten black and blue or worst, mangled.
For wisdom is a kindly spirit, yet she acquits not the blasphemer of his guilty lips; because God is the witness of his inmost self and the sure observer of his heart and the listener to his tongue. For the spirit of the Lord fill the world, is all embracing, and knows what man says.
Bless us today, Lord, to be like St. Martin of Tours who always spoke with humility and gentility, full of wisdom and kindness to everyone. Most of all, bless us to be like him to see you Lord among everyone and treat them with respect and dignity always.
Fill us with your wisdom, Lord, especially our public figures that they may never let speak evil of anyone and be an occasion of sin as you warned in the gospel today.
Help us to bring back decency and kindness especially in our language for indeed, “from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Mt. 12:34).
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music, 10 November 2019
Today’s Sunday gospel is admittedly very difficult: the resurrection of body and life everlasting.
In our gospel, the Sadducees tried to trick Jesus with their “levirite law” from Moses that decreed “If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother” (Lk.20:28).
Right away, Jesus quashed their wrong argument because there is no point in having analogies and comparisons when it comes with the resurrection of the dead. Marriage is something of this world while resurrection is something beyond this world and life.
What Jesus is asking us this Sunday is to focus our sights on our loving and merciful Father because faith in resurrection is faith in a living God.
Moreover, faith in resurrection of the dead is borne out of an encounter and experience of God, moving us to forge on with life amidst all its difficulties and trials because we believe this life would be changed and perfected by God in the end.
And that change, that resurrection begins right here in this life – every time we try to pick up the pieces of our lives, when we try to start anew, whenever we rise again from every little death, that is when we experience our little resurrection.
From that experience we slowly gain passion for life because we are convinced deep inside there is something more bigger awaiting us because we have God on our side who would never forsake us and perfect us in eternity.
In reflecting these things of the above like heaven and resurrection of the dead, I always choose next to prayer the way of music, and believe me, not just meditative or classical music.
I do it with rock and funk and soul!
See how Daryl Hall and his musicians play with so much passion and gusto this classic by the Average White Band (AWB) called “Pick Up the Pieces”: it’s a natural high, feeding our soul deep within, transporting us to somewhere higher in realm and reality.
Released in 1974 by Scottish musicians AWB, Pick Up the Pieces is essentially instrumental with its title being shouted occasionally.
I prefer the version of Daryl Hall when he invited to his internet show Live From Daryl’s House AWB original Alan Gorrie jamming with them in his home-studio in New York state in January 2010.
Just enjoy and feel the music, feed your soul, be assured Jesus is always on your side who journeys with you through this life into eternity. Amen.
Our gospel today helps us to further reflect the meaning of last week’s All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day when we honored our departed loved ones with prayers, believing and hoping that some day we shall be with them in heaven at “the resurrection of body and life everlasting”.
Every Sunday this is what we profess and so today, our readings invite us to reflect anew this last but crucial article of our faith, theresurrection of body and life everlasting.
Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless. Then the second and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.”
Jesus had finally entered Jerusalem. What an extraordinary manner for him to discuss death and resurrection right in the city he knew where he would eventually die and rise again in a few days later!
And the first to confront him there were the Sadducees, Israel’s elite from whose ranks came the high priests who later conspired with Rome to put Jesus to death.
Very conservative and rigorous in their practice of religion, the Sadducees were basically fundamentalists who refused to accept oral traditions on equal footing with the Pentateuch. They only accepted whatever was explicitly written on the Pentateuch, discarding anything that the Torah does not mention at all like the resurrection, existence of spiritual beings like angels and immortality of the soul.
Don’t we find ourselves into the same situation too when despite our professed religiosity, we subscribe to other beliefs like reincarnation and fortune-telling because of “proofs” we find about their veracity unlike the resurrection that seems to be so difficult to think of in the first place?
We have those vestiges of fundamentalism within, always searching and asking for proofs on so many things about our religious beliefs, especially about God and Jesus Christ.
Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels… That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
Notice how Jesus right away told them analogies and comparisons are not applicable because marriage and resurrection are of two different realms. The Sadducees were thinking on ground level when resurrection is definitely of a higher plane.
Jesus finds no need to prove anything at all to them – even to us! What he is more concerned is for us to “level-up” our thoughts, to set our sights to him, the Son of the Living God.
Now in Jerusalem to fulfill his mission, Jesus in the next two weeks will summarize for us all his teachings that lead to our coming home to the Father in heaven upon our death. Like Jesus Christ who died and rose again, we shall experience the same in the end.
How? Nobody really knows but our faith teaches us that resurrection is more than being restored to life; resurrection is life perfected in Christ. Life is surely changed and that is why it is on a different and higher level of existence.
And it starts right here in this life.
Every time we experience our little deaths on our daily cross with Christ, we also experience our little resurrection when our lives are changed for the better. Amidst our many struggles in this life, we experience God’s loving presence, his very revelation of himself that moves us to deeper faith in him for indeed, he “is not God of the dead” – nor a dead God – because “for him all is alive” .
This faith in the resurrection is faith in the living God “who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace” (2 Thes. 2:16) in Jesus Christ.
It is a faith borne out of our encounter with him as our loving and merciful Father that we are filled with passion to do everything for him because he is so true, so real, like in the experiences of the seven Maccabean brothers who heroically accepted death than sin against God in the first reading.
In 2013, I lost my best friend from high school to cancer.
One week before he died, I visited him three more times and that was when I noticed something so different: during the early months of his sickness, he would always cry to me, expressing his fears and anger but, during that final week of his life, I was the one crying to him while he was the one who would console and explain things to me!
Later, I experienced the same thing with some friends and parishioners I have accompanied in their final journey as a priest.
I have learned that the dying stop crying, stop fearing death because they could already see their final destination. They could feel God so close already that they no longer resist dying, so certain of their own resurrection. We who are left behind cry not only in losing our loved ones but unconsciously because we are afraid, unsure of where our lives are leading to.
In one of the beautiful scenes of the Netflix series The Kominski Method, Sandy (Michael Douglas) told his friend Norman (Alan Larkin) how everyone else is also afraid because nothing is so certain in this life. But, Sandy added, we continue to live because we have others with us journeying together in this life.
Let that Other be Jesus Christ who has come to accompany us in this life and back to the Father in heaven. Amen.
Thank you very much for the gift of church, especially beautiful and lovely churches where we encounter you in prayers and the sacraments.
How amazing that these churches “breathe” with their walls, “whispering” to you the many praises and thanksgiving of countless people who have encountered you there.
Whenever I come inside a church, I try to feel your presence as well as those other faithful including those who have gone home to you in heaven.
Indeed, we your “chosen people as living stones” are your buildings, your temple and dwelling place.
Whenever we enter a church, we also enter you, our God as you fill us with life like those fruitful trees saw by Ezekiel in the first reading growing on the banks of the river flowing from the temple.
Forgive us when we destroy our bodies and our communities, forgetting that we are your temple.
Forgive us when we refuse to celebrate the Sunday Mass with our fellow believers.
As we celebrate today the Feast of the Dedication of the Mother of all churches, the Major Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, remind us also to take care of our churches, to always maintain their sacredness, do away with all profanities and “shows” so many priests and lay people are now so fond of doing forgetting it is always your house, not ours.
Breathe into us your life-giving Spirit, Lord Jesus, for us to create a space within us and in our churches for you to come and renew us. Amen.
Romans 15:14-21 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 16:1-8
Before everything else, O loving Father as we praise and thank you for this new day, we fervently pray for our brothers and sisters severely affected by the rains and floods up north in Cagayan as well as those displaced by the effects of earthquakes last two weeks in Mindanao.
Take care of them and make us more sensitive to their plights that we may be moved to do something concrete for them.
Like St. Paul, fill us with the same Holy Spirit, with zeal and enthusiasm to always do your work, Lord.
But I have written to you rather boldly in some respects to remind you, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in performing the priestly service of the Gospel of God, so that the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Fridays for everyone is the end of school and/or work, a time to celebrate and have fun; the most welcome break of the week. But with you, Lord, you never stop working for us, with us, and in us.
Like St. Paul, fill us with yourself, O God which is the literal meaning of “enthusiasm” from the two Greek words, “en theos”, “be filled with God”.
Like St. Paul, may we never stop proclaiming you and your salvation joyfully even among those who have known you, Lord.
In this world of so much competition and rat race with no clear winners at all, make us realize like the shrewd steward in today’s gospel that being wise is giving more importance to people and persons and relationships than money and wealth. Amen.