Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Christ the King (C) - The People Stood there Watching

Luke 23:35-43
November 24, 2013

GOSPEL READING: The Crucifixion
The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.” Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.” Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

REFLECTION: The People Stood there Watching

The People Stood there Watching… Does that sound like a headline for news?  Well, maybe it is. Did the people know what they were watching?  Did the leaders know what they were jeering at or the soldiers know what they made fun of?  An inscription over His head announced: This is the King of the Jews. (Everyone knows that the Jews have had no king for centuries.)  Even one of the dying criminals taunted this ‘king of the Jews’: “Save yourself and us.” How many of us today realize that this is Divine Love in all its fullness, omnipotence? What is my own reaction to this Gospel scene?  Do I feel repulsed at the horror of Jesus stripped of His clothing, made helpless and left to die in His own blood?   Can I as a Christian, acknowledge this as a necessary expression of Divine Love?  Theologians tell us that one drop of this Man’s blood would be more than sufficient to redeem all souls of all time.

Should I prefer Jesus surrounded with little children or as a Good Shepherd with lost souls carried on His shoulders? Why such a horrible, bloody death?  Is it easy for me to comprehend this expression of Omnipotent Love?  Perhaps, our ‘key word’ should be comprehension?  This kind of Love comes from the very Heart of God!  What human intellect can comprehend the foolish Love of God madly thrown down from heaven to people?

The spectacle of horror and hatred must somehow “balance” with the weight of the furnace and fire of Divine Love; even a shocking and reckless waste of God’s LOVE for people.  The only human intellect that could comprehend this scene is that of a God-Man, of the Christ.Today, we are celebrating the Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe; this universe which was created only for people, people made in the image and likeness of God.  These people, with intellect and will, took centuries to ‘intuit’ and contemplate and come to a sort of comprehension of: Christ the King of Love, Christ the very Heart of God, Christ the King of the Universe! And the people stood there watching.  You and I are among the ‘people watching. I will now propose for our contemplation an insightful quotation by Dostoevsky in his book “Brothers Karamazov”:
      “Have no fear of men’s sin.  Love a man even in his sin, for that is the semblance of Divine Love, and the highest Love on earth.  Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it.  Love every leaf and every ray of God’s light.  Love the animals, love the plants, love everything.  If you love everything, you will perceive the Divine Mystery in things.  Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day.  And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.” Amen.

The sharer is a DOMINICAN NUN‏ of the Queen of Angels Monastery in Bocaue, Bulacan.


Solemnity, Cycle C, OP Nuns, Comprehension, Crucifixion, Love, Suffering

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

33rd Sunday in OT (C) - By your Perseverance you will Secure your Lives

Luke 21:5-19
November 17, 2013

GOSPEL READING: The Poor Widow’s Contribution / The Destruction of the Temple Foretold / The Sign of the End / The Coming Persecution

While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, he said, “All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen? ”He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.

 “Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.

REFLECTION: By your Perseverance you will Secure your Lives

The first part of the Gospel speaks of Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem. The disciples were awed by the size and splendor of the temple. We are like the disciples who are also awed by the beauty and splendor of God’s creation especially in the scenic places and buildings on this earth. However, we must not forget that all these have God as the source of all beauty. Psalm 8 states: ’’O Lord, our God, how awesome is your name through all the earth.”

The second part is the eschatological discourse of Jesus. He speaks of the signs of the end of the world. These seem to be frightening to us if we do not have faith in God Who is in control of everything. We should not be afraid of THE END because after that is another new beginning. Jesus predicts wars among nations, earthquakes famines and plagues, which are actually happening in this planet. We ask ourselves Why are these happening? When will these sufferings end? We cry to God for help. But the end is not here. Christ Himself tells us that nobody knows the time when THE END comes. Not even the angels. It is only God the Father Who knows it. We do not really know if this will happen during our lifetime. It is then good for us to heed the call of St. Paul (2Thes 3: 12-13 ) to work quietly not to burden other people and to continue doing good. Thus like the Boy / Girl Scouts  we should  always be prepared.

In the last part of the Gospel Jesus tells us of the future that awaits His disciples. He tells us that we will be persecuted for His sake. In our lives as Christians in this contemporary world, persecutions come our way not as fierce and violent as those of the first Christians but in subtle and different ways. It can happen in the workplace where faithful  Christians who live by the Gospel values are branded as old fashioned and out of this world.  In such case, a true disciple should stand by his/her faith and persevere in living according to the teachings of the Church and his/her informed conscience.

Jesus promises us of His protection and guidance everyday of our life. He gives us that assurance when he said “I am with you always, until the end of the age“ (Mt 28:2b). Our Father will give us the Holy Spirit to speak in our behalf and to strengthen us in times of trials and tribulations.  We must remain faithful as He is forever faithful to us We will persevere in doing what God wills for us as we call upon Him for unconditional love for His Son and His  Church.  At the end of our journey here on earth and as we come face to face with Him Whom we love and serve, we will receive our reward of eternal joy.


SR. LORETA A. PENULIAR, O.P. is the Prioress General of the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Peace based in Tarlac.


Ordinary Time, Cycle C, OP Sisters, Beauty, Faith, Eschatology, Persecution, Joy, Signs

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

32nd Sunday in OT (C) - Now and Forever

Luke 20: 27, 34-38
November 10, 2013

Some Sadducees -- those who argue that there is no resurrection -- approached him and they put this question to him, 'Master, Moses prescribed for us, if a man's married brother dies childless, the man must marry the widow to raise up children for his brother. Well then, there were seven brothers; the first, having married a wife, died childless. The second and then the third married the widow. And the same with all seven, they died leaving no children. Finally the woman herself died. Now, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be, since she had been married to all seven?' Jesus replied, 'The children of this world take wives and husbands, but those who are judged worthy of a place in the other world and in the resurrection from the dead do not marry because they can no longer die, for they are the same as the angels, and being children of the resurrection they are children of God. And Moses himself implies that the dead rise again, in the passage about the bush where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is God, not of the dead, but of the living; for to him everyone is alive.'

REFLECTION: Now and Forever

We could very well classify people into two groups: the "Now" group and the "Forever" group.

People in the "Now" group tend to live colorful lives, intent on living the dream but don't care much about the imminent future.  For many among them, they believe that we have one chance at life and we need to make the most of it.  Quality of life is centered mainly on the present since the next life, if it is to be believed, appears to be too distant, if not outright hazy.  Much is placed on faith, however, the human condition has somehow made us rely on experiences to be able to successfully achieve something and at the same time, have something to show for it.

The "Forever" group is intent on winning the prize at the end of the race but oftentimes without regard to how it is achieved.  They somehow live in a trance-like wonder often oblivious to the world and indifferent towards people around them who may not be similarly inclined to share in their fastidiousness to that future state. Their concept of forever is often not anchored in the now, for the current world is a world of suffering and its path runs towards the very valley of emptiness, pain and ultimately death.  Life for them is but a temporary reality.

Human as we are, we normally miss the entire picture by failing to focus on a tiny yet sublime fact:  "Now" is not meant to be taken alone when there is a future to speak of; while "Forever" is not meant merely to be aspired for since how we achieve it is directly dependent on how we fare in our current lives: "Now and Forever" is a coordinated truth.  Jesus gives a "now" dimension to the phrase "eternal life" (which we usually categorize as "future" or "forever") in His high priestly prayer: "This is eternal life: that they should know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom you have sent." (John 17:3).  It seems that Jesus is saying that eternal life is a matter of relationship with the Father –– something that will be fully realized in the future, but that has its beginnings in our lives now. Death should never be made a chasm that separates now from forever, body from the spirit, sinner from the Creator, for He is not a God of the dead but of the living.  Since Christ already had won victory over death; the death knell merely signals the end of the race on the one hand, but trumpets the attainment of the much-hoped for bliss, on the other.

"Now and Forever" is never easy, no wonder very few subscribe to it as a single, unifying truth.  People would rather consider it an "Either/Or" rather than an "And" to make believing in it much more bearable.  Many are ridiculed for believing in that truth.  Seemingly, "Now and Forever" is an ideal that has largely been passé, especially at an age when promises are broken, when wicked deeds triumph over good, when temporal matters appear more significant than the eternal.  I believe it is to this end that the Church normally ends its prayer to which we all say "Amen."  Bridging “Now and Forever” requires the triumvirate of the great virtues that exist now and last forever: faith, hope and love –– Hope refreshes the everydayness of living; Faith strengthens our conviction that what we aim to achieve will come to pass; Love makes it all worthwhile.

Understanding the interplay of “Now and Forever” somehow clarifies Christ's promise to be with us all the time.  Forever is happening now; Forever ceases to be a distant reward to the deserving with death as a necessary gateway.  Christ's resurrection has unified "now" with "forever" by removing death's sting; with Him conquering death, there is absolutely nothing that could conquer us.  That no matter how we get wounded now by our own sinfulness or bogged down by the realities of life, we're never conquered forever: 

Sorting through the wreckage of broken dreams and daring to dream again, says: "I’m not conquered."
Throwing aside the jagged edges from failures on the path I now walk, says: "I’m not conquered."
Not being afraid to risk again whether in life, love or business, says: "I’m not conquered."
To give even when you feel all used up, says: "I’m not conquered."
Forgiving and letting go, says: "I’m not conquered."
Opening the heart to love again after pieces were broken and missing, says: "I’m not conquered."
Staring at fear and still going through the fire, says: "I’m not conquered."
To feel worthy after bouts of feeling worthless and despite the doubts, says: "I’m not conquered."
Having faith and holding on in the darkest hours, says: "I’m not conquered."

For to God, all are and forever.


MR. JOEL R. GABRIEL is a member of the Filii Sancti Dominici Philippinensis


Ordinary Time, Cycle C, OP Filii, Now, Forever, Resurrection

Saturday, November 2, 2013

All About Lights

All About Lights
I've never tried to understand the sunrise.
I only know it takes away the dark.
I can't explain Your healing or all the joy I'm feeling.
I only know You've come into my heart.

The light of a million mornings filled my heart.
The sound of a million angels sang my song.
The warmth of a love so tender
Touched my life and suddenly
The light of a million mornings start in me.

--Claire Cloninger and Mark Hayes, "Light of a Million Mornings"

In our world today, there are many types of light.  Let me enumerate some:  There is the neon light; most of us fancy the dancing light; still others are drawn to the spot light; while some can't wait to switch on the Christmas light, and of course, who could miss the ubiquitous fluorescent light? 

Let me share with you some of their characteristics: 

Neon Light. The neon light is what we see most of the time adorning billboards, it is lovely especially if applied with different colors.  It makes the billboard ad more inviting, appealing to the eyes and which more often than not, snatches our attention.  But then, it has one major weakness.  For it to be truly useful, it has to wait for the sunlight to vanish where it roars into life giving the city its pomp and rhythm.  But half the day, it is dead for it is no match to the daytime’s brightness. 

Dancing Light. Almost all of the dance halls are dead without the cadence of the dancing light.  It makes the environment conducive to dancing giving the pretense that a ballroom or dance hall is no hall at all if people just stare at each other’s eyes without the necessary blink of the dancing light. 

Spot Light. The spot light is an all-powerful light which makes you sweat and almost be blinded  should you find yourself blocking its path.  Though powerful it may seem, its strength is confined only in one place at a time; where it gives daytime brightness to one side, it lets the other side  fall into stark darkness. 

Christmas Light. The Christmas light is a seasonal fixture lending the air the aura of cheer and giving.  While it is popular in that one event, it is almost out of place outside the season and is left to lie useless for most of the year. 

Fluorescent Light. The fluorescent light is ever lowly but dependable.  Legend has it that the fluorescent light was invented by a Filipino.  I consider it lowly because of its utter simplicity and total lack of style, it seldom finds its way in the big house of the financially well-endowed.  And when it does, it takes on another form or shape, becoming somewhat obscured as if to say its mere appearance destroys the ambience of the room.  And yet we almost always find one in the shanties of the less privileged where it safely gives light to anyone and anything else in the room. 

We are the light of the world…so often we've heard; but exactly which type? 

Are we like the neon light where we always prefer our world to be dark because we feel powerless and unappreciated in the bright?  That our usefulness begins at dusk when people scramble to the safety of their homes after a day’s work and we then we bug them with all our adornments and superficial colors? 

Are we like the dancing light, where we give the world its rhythm and life but feel inadequate once the music stops or slows down; where we always want everything around us to be upbeat as if it were the only trace of life? 

Are we like the spot light where we leave the rest to grope in the dark, feeling unnoticed while showering specific people with attention in all its lavishness until they sweat in the heat of our praise, invariably moving them to discomfort; where we focus our attention to the minutest detail but leaving the perspective to some other space? 

Or we might be like the Christmas light where we lend ourselves to the spirit of giving and sharing as if to herald the coming of the Savior, but lying asleep and without purpose for the most part of the other seasons as if we were the modern-day Scrooges awaiting the wake-up call of the Christmas spirits? 

Or perhaps we are like the fluorescent light: lowly and utterly simple, where we feel most welcome in the homes of the less fortunate; where most of the time it is the only vestige of modernity and pride that they can surely afford?

You are the light of the world… Neon light, dancing light, spotlight, Christmas light, fluorescent... 

And you, what sort of light are you?


MR. JOEL R. GABRIEL is a member of the Filii Sancti Dominici Philippinensis

KEYWORDS: OP Filii, Special, Lights