Wednesday, April 29, 2015

5th Sunday of Easter (B) - Bearing Fruit

Cycle B – Fifth Sunday of Easter
John 15:1-8

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither, people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

Sr. Nedie T. Capatan, OP

“There’s no place like home” this was the line that we usually hear from those people who experienced leaving their families for some reasons. I, myself, experienced how it is to be away from home. During my college years, I need to leave and to be on my own because our house was far from the school where I was enrolled. At first, it was difficult on my part since this was my first time to be separated from my family. Later on, I learned to adjust with the new environment and I met new friends.  Along with this, temptations come in. I feel free and I can do whatever I want because I’m away from home.  I enjoyed being free with my friends but my joys turned upside down. My grades were almost failing and I am afraid to inform my parents.  But with the trust and support of my parents I coped up. With this event in my life, one thing I realized is that I want to be with them because “There’s no place like home.”  I met new friends but the feeling was different when I’m home. Even though I experienced to be scolded and punished, I still want to be home because I know where I belong and they are only doing such things to help me grow into a responsible person. In return, I do my responsibilities with zeal and joy.

 I can relate my experience to the Gospel of St. John about the Vine and the Branches, wherein the relationship between God the Father and God the Son was manifested. Jesus likened Himself into a Vine and the Father as the vine grower who takes away the branches of the vine that are not useful. The vine grower did this in order to make the vine bears more fruit.  Parents are like the Father (vine grower) who disciplined us if we do something wrong or we are not on the right path . But it does not mean that they don’t love us, as a matter of fact they love us very dearly. They only wanted the best for us.

In our lives, we also experienced to be pruned, through the obstacles that we encountered maybe in a form of physical pain, emotional pain, spiritual dryness and others. These are only God’s ways of reminding us that there is God whom we can rely on, because sometimes we are overwhelmed with the joy and freedom that we experienced and we tend to forget the true source of this, who is God. Let God be the center of our life, like the Gospel says: “Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.” God is the source of our life, so in all that we do let God be our inspiration and guide because we are nothing without God and through God we can enter our heavenly home.   

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

FEAST OF THE SANTO NIÑO (B) - Being Childlike

Proper Feast in the Philippines
Mt. 18:1-5, 10
January 18, 2015

GOSPEL READING: The Greatest in the Kingdom
At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me. “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.

REFLECTION: Being Childlike

Just like the Sto. Niño, we are all called to become childlike. Far from being childish which is irritating, a childlike person is pleasing. He is like the Lord described by Isaiah in the 1st reading as someone who makes our gladness greater and our joys increase (Isaiah 9:1-2). Now the childlike person is pleasing because of his sense of wonder, dynamism, and relation.

A childlike person has a sense of wonder. Aristotle himself says that this wonder which is the desire to know more applies to all humans (Metaphysics 980a21). Now this openness implies universality and discretion. Unlike the sceptic who is too proud to learn from somebody, the child is eager to learn from his parents and elders. Similarly the childlike person has this sense of universality by being open to the truth not just of one, but of everyone. For the truth that we cannot learn from one can be learned from another. This is the reason why for us Dominicans, we do not have the tradition of appointing only a single spiritual director in formation. The spiritual direction is provided by our community and our deep study life. This structure prevents us from developing a perspective limited by a single confessor or spiritual director.

Yet it is not enough that one be merely open. Discretion is also necessary so as to evaluate whether ideas are true or not. Fr. Enrico Gonzales, OP illustrates this using an angle saying that one should be open on one side and closed on the other side. He should be open on one side in so far as he accepts new truths that complement or clarify the already-established or accepted truths. Yet, he should also be closed on the other side in so far as he rejects ideas that totally contradict the established truths. A person who boasts of being so open that he becomes a relativist has the danger of having his brains fall down! That is why in today’s gospel, the child Jesus is not merely open in listening to the teachers of the temple. He also clarifies their ideas by asking questions (Luke 2:46). Similarly while the child is generally obedient to his elders, he would refuse to follow their immoral commands like not telling the truth. In the story of the Emperor’s new clothes, in spite of the command of his elders to ignore the truth and be silent, the child could not help laughing and expressing the simple truth that the emperor has no clothes.

A childlike person is also dynamic. Regardless of our achievements we all have to keep on progressing not just in knowledge, but in all aspects of our life. Even the child Jesus Himself “increased in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and men (Luke 2:52).” The problem enters when we fail to grow in one aspect of our life. Thomas Aquinas describes this as becoming a monster. Imagine that your body is growing but not your head! Hence, let us use the prayer of Paul in the 2nd reading that we may keep on improving in knowing and doing God’s will (Ephesians 1:17-18).

And finally, a childlike person is also relational. Being the youngest, the child could be the focus of attention in the family. But this focus is far different from that of the celebrities. The care and love given to him by his parents promote not so much grasping after something as openness to receiving trust and love. The centeredness of the child promotes unity and love.

As we celebrate the feast of Sto. Niño, let us pray that we may become like Him who is pleasing to everyone because of his wonder, dynamism, and love.

FR. RUDOLF STEVEN SEÑO, OP is a Dominican Priest assigned in the Priory of St. Thomas Aquinas.


Feast, Cycle B, OP Friars, Sto. Niño, Child, Wonder, Dynamism, Love