Wednesday, October 29, 2014

30th Sunday of in OT (A) - The Absence of Judgment

OCTOBER 26, 2014
Mt. 22:34-40

The Absence of Judgment
Joseph Conrad Salenga (OP Postulant)

The Lord is commanding us all to love Him primarily with all our heart, mind, and soul. On the other hand, He is asking us to love our neighbors as ourselves. But the former com­mandment could be satisfied by fulfilling the latter. The image of God is reflected in our neighbors most especially in the least among them. As the Lord says, “whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you do it to me.” There­fore, if we are to love our neighbors with all our heart, mind, and soul, so are we doing the same thing to the one who created us all.

According to St. Teresa of Calcutta, “Love is the absence of Judgment.” Humans as we are, we are weak and have the tendency to falter most of the time. Since all of us belong to a certain community, there will always be misunder­standings between different individuals. For this reason, the love that the Lord is asking us to have becomes vague and frail because it contradicts the meaning of love which is the “absence of judgment.” Because of our self-centered differ­ences, we tend to criticize, mock, and hate on another causing divisions. In the seminary, we are all different from one another. Each one is coming from a cul­ture unique from everyone else’s.

We have different attitudes and capabilities. Because of our uniqueness, we end up misunderstanding each other and creating divisions. But the essence of the words of Mother Teresa gave us the reason to be reunited. The Lord is telling us all, according to the words of Mo. Teresa, that in order for us to live as one, we must not look at the differences we have but on what is commonly good among all. We do not judge our brothers and sisters according to how they differ from us but we must appreciate their goodness. We will never remove our sense of judgment towards the shadows of others directly but indirectly, by focusing our perspective towards the beauty in the person, not the shadows behind her/ him, only then will we be able to appreciate them. The Lord looks at all of us not by the way we see things but with a perspective full of hope. He does not look on our sinfulness and imperfections but on what is good in us. He always seeks the perfection in us amidst all our imperfections. He identifies our goodness so that he may use that to convert our misdeeds to hope. In order for us to love, we should take God’s perspective --- not judging the imperfections caused by differ­ences but appreciating the goodness that is common within us all.

On this day, the Order commemorates sixteen martyrs who labored to establish the Church in Nagasaki, Japan, and who were martyred at various times during the years 1633, 1634 and 1637. After enduring horrible tortures, they were executed by the method known as the “gallows and pit,” their bodies were burned, and their ashes scattered.

Of this group, nine were from Japan, four from Spain, one from France, one from Italy, and one from the Philippines. Father Dominic lbañez de Erquicia was the first to die on August 14, 1633. Lorenzo Ruiz, the father of a family and the protomartyr of the Philippines, died on September 29, 1637. Thirteen of these martyrs were members of the Dominican Family and three were associated with it. (cf. Dominican Missal and Lectionary)


Cycle A, Ordinary Time, OP Postulants, Neighbors, Commandments, Love, Martyrs

Thursday, October 16, 2014

29th Sunday of in OT (A) - Just is the Lord

OCTOBER 19, 2014
Mt. 22:15-21

Just is the Lord
Gary Ni-og (OP Postulant)

Jesus says, “Give to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s,” but He also adds, in the same breath: “and to God what is God’s.”

There is no indication that Jesus returned the coin to the Phari­see. Maybe as Jesus proclaims the punchline “and render to God the things that are God’s”--- He pockets the coin and has the last laugh.” and that is another story. Faced with the dou­ble-ended trap of the Pharisees and the Herodians, in which it was unsafe to clearly say yes or no, Jesus framed His answer in such enigmatic lan­guage that it would be hard for either party to trap Him. In this way, He succeeded in confusing not only His interroga­tors but also many of us who read the Bible today. If you think Jesus meant that we should have two parallel loyalties, it might help to know that the Pharisees who heard Him did not understand it in that way. In the trial of Jesus before Pi­late, one of the charges they brought against Him was that He forbade paying taxes to Caesar (Luke 23:2).

Instead of answering the direct question of whether one should pay the forced tribute to Caesar or not, Jesus raises the question to another level, that of the principle of justice. Greek philosophers before Jesus defined justice as “giving back to everyone what is their due.” Jesus seems to be saying that the only binding obligation is that of justice, that of giving back to every person what is due to them. Serving God is basically a matter of justice? If God has given to us all that we are and what we have, then we are bound in justice to give back to God some gratitude, loyalty, and service. The central act of Chris­tian worship is called Eucharist, which means “thanksgiving.” It is basically a question of paying back the debt of gratitude we owe to God.

Surely, even in our own lives, we might come to the point of asking God as if we are entrapping Him and blaming Him for all of our misfortunes that happened in us. But certainly, one thing is for sure, God will answer all of our questions in due time. Most of the time, we will not recognize his answers be­cause of too much self-centeredness and God is so mysterious.

This is the challenge for all of us --- to become a just man that is to render what is due to our neighbor and to our God. Do not ask your neighbor what good he can do for you, but rather ask yourself you can do well for your neighbor. As Jesus says what you do to others, you do also unto me. With this, we will be­come a just man that is pleasing in the sight of our Lord Jesus Christ. And I think, He will answer our questions clearly and directly this time.


Cycle A, Ordinary Time, OP Postulants, Justice, Eucharist, Neighbors

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

28th Sunday of in OT (A) - Come to the Feast

OCTOBER 12, 2014
Mt. 22:1-10

Come to the Feast
Raphael Tanseco (OP Postulant)

Every day we listen to the sound around us. The birds calling in the night, the breeze of the ocean, people talking, we all listen to them. In fact, we even listen to an­noying sounds even if they are not pleasing to hear but the point is, do we listen to God who is always calling us?

If you couldn't understand the parable of the wedding banquet, I can provide you with some insights. The king who is inviting the guests is God. The messenger whom he sent to invite the guests is Jesus our divine teacher and we are the guests who refused God's invitation. Despite of His invitation to us, we do not respond to His call rather, we reject it. God is calling out to us every day and He is reaching out to us but we completely ignore it at times.

All we need to do is to listen to God’s invitation and accept it. St. Paul even pointed out that faith comes through hearing. If we do not listen to our teachers, we will not understand anything at all. If we will not listen to the homily, we will not learn anything about the Gospel; and if we will not listen to God, we will not live a life of holiness and happiness. It's that simple. We need to listen and accept the invitation of God to a life of holiness and in order for that to happen, we need to open our hearts and our minds to Him.

God is inviting us and in His invitation we could choose whether we would accept the invitation or decline it. Jesus is always knocking at our door. It is up to us if we will open it and receive Him with our whole hearts. Remember, the doorknob is on the inside and not on the outside. It is our call if we are go­ing to accept His invitation or not.


Cycle A, Ordinary Time, OP Postulants, Vocation, Invitation, Wedding Feast

Friday, October 3, 2014

27th Sunday of in OT (A) – Pamamathala (Stewardship)

OCTOBER 5, 2014
Mt. 21:33-43

Pamamathala (Stewardship)
Vince Stanley Iñigo (op Postulant)

When I was still little child, my parents would always remind me whenever I borrow things to take care of other people’s belongings and treat it with love as if those were my own. Of course, they never fall short of reminding me to return those borrowed things; but so far as I remember some of those are still with me until now, I would like to apologize for that. Going bask, the reminder of my parents tells me of responsibility and stewardship.

Stewardship means “we are entrusted of something and accounted of something.” In Filipino, we translate this word in different ways: pangangalaga (caretaking), pagkakatiwala (entrusting), pamamathala (overseeing), etc. Now, let us focus on the tenants of the vineyard. When we say that we are tagapangalaga (Filipino root: pag-aalaga), we are given the task to take care of an object, an institution or a place.

When we say that we are katiwala (Filipino root: tiwala), we are entrusted an obligation. But pamamathala goes to a deeper meaning. In the olden times, the native Filipinos would call God, Bathala. When we consider ourselves as namamathala, we are given a responsibility in which God would have wished after the servants did not do anything productive. They beat one, killed another and stoned a third even the owner’s son was not spared. Do you think that they have practiced pamamathala in that manner?

In our daily lives, we are also called to practice stewardship. We are given talents, intelligence, strength and many more in different ways that God had fashioned us into and it's up to us if we want to discover more. Sometimes, we forget that we are only stewards to the point that our pride overpowers us. We tend to show off. We strive to own the world. We try to amass the produce by being indifferent to God's creation. It's time to wake up. It's time to fulfill our mission as stewards. The Creator entrusted us with natural and spiritual gifts in order for us to be productive tenants and servants for His Kingdom. My friends, remember that we are all stewards, that is tagapamathala.

NOTE:  Inspired by a composition entitled Dominican Poverty and Filipino Stewardship by Fr. Stephen Redillas, OP, page 24 of the book ““Nanahan sa Atin” by Pedregosa, Timoner, Marquez, etc.


Cycle A, Ordinary Time, OP Postulants, Stewardship, Mission, Entrustment