Saturday, December 14, 2019

Be patient like a farmer.

"Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient." (James 5: 7 - 8).

How long does it take a mango seedling to grow, bear fruits until that first greenish yellow mango fruit is ripened and ready to be eaten? About 1350 days in the tropics. How do I know? Because I planted a mango seedling to find out . What have I learned as a mango tree farmer?

#1 Patience is Power
"I waited, I waited for the Lord; who bent down and heard my cry"(Psalm 40: 1)

#2 This young mango seedling faced many challenges to its survival in its early years. Storms, strong winds, too much rain, insects; all threatened its existence. But it survived.

#3 The fruit came in the fullness of time. In the right season.

#4 The season for bearing fruit will also come for you if only you remain patient and wait for it.

#5 Fruit bearing season is different for every person.

How long must we wait for the Lord to answer our prayer?
In the fullness of time, God makes everything beautiful. God is faithful and loves those who wait for Him

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Friday, December 13, 2019

St John of the Cross, Mystic and Doctor of the Church.

"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me, says the Lord." (Cf. Matthew  16: 24).

Saturday of the 2nd week of Advent is the feast of St John the Cross (1542 - 1591), Carmelite Priest and Doctor of the Church. Born in Spain near Avila, he cooperated with St Teresa of Avila, another Carmelite mystic and Doctor of the Church for the reform of the Carmelite Order. His Carmelite brothers did not take kindly to his ideas or severe discipline. They captured him and imprisoned him in a high attic where escape was virtually impossible. Providentially, he escaped and continued his writings. He wrote many profound works of mysticism of which THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL remains a spiritual classic.

"May I never boast, except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Galatians 6: 14).

God endowed St John of the Cross with an outstanding dedication to self-denial and love of the Cross. May we obtain through his intercession similar gifts.

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Thursday, December 12, 2019

God Himself taught this Virgin and Martyr.

"I am the Lord, your God, teaching you how to prevail, leading you on the way you should go." (Isaiah 48: 17).

Friday of the 2nd week of Advent is the feast of St Lucy (+304), Virgin and Martyr. Lucy died a martyr under Emperor Diocletian. Lucy had been venerated as a saint from antiquity. Her name is included in the Roman Canon.

Look at our Scripture for today:
"I am the Lord, your God, teaching you how to prevail, leading you on the way you should go."
One of the titles of God that I like very much is: TEACHER OF ALL MANKIND. Imagine a toddler being taught by her mother how to walk, eat, talk, write, etc. So does God do for you and for me. But God is simply not only the Teacher of all mankind (homo sapiens). He is the Teacher of all living things. I am incredulous watching wildlife and observing how ferocious wild animals are so tender towards their young ones or mourn them when they are dead. Who taught them? God!

But how does God teach us? The answer is in the Responsorial Psalm of today:
"Happy indeed is the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked; nor lingers in the way of sinners nor sits in the company of scoffers, but whose delight is the law of the Lord and who ponders his law day and night." (Psalm 1: 1 - 2).

God teaches us what is best for us through His word. Are you teachable? Do you delight in the word of God? It is not too late. Advent is a Season we are promised plenty of God's unmerited favor. Come today to the throne of grace and mercy with boldness to receive grace now.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Patroness.

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." (Luke 1: 30).

Thursday of the 2nd week of Advent is the feast of of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas. The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe started in 1531 long before the United States of America. Mary appeared to Juan Diego, a young Mexican man. She was dressed as a simple pregnant Mexican woman. She left an imprint of herself on her dress. The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe houses this miraculous dress still with the original imprint. The Basilica has become a place of popular pilgrimage for millions down the centuries. Although I have not fulfilled my desire to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, I have visited a replica Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe  in Port Arthur, Texas. Great experience!

Who is Mary? Mary the Mother of our Savior and Redeemer is called by the great Church document, Lumen Gentium: "A sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God." (CCC 972).Hope of what? Hope of the ultimate blessing for humanity: Eternal life and bliss with GOD forever.

The Church declares that "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship." The Church rightly honors "the Blessed Virgin with special devotion." (CCC 971). Mary is not god or goddess.  "All generations will call me blessed." This is not the will of man but a prophecy. Her apparition in Mexico in 1531 caused the conversion of about 9 million Mexicans from idol worship to the true faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Do not be afraid to call upon Mary in all of your necessities.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Do you wait for the Lord? Be confident. God will never be late!

"Even the youths shall be exhausted, and the young men will all give up.  But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40: 30-31 TLB).

Wednesday of the 2nd week of Advent is the feast of St Damasus 1 (305 - 384), Pope. You may never have heard of Pope Damasus but this man has far more impact in the Church than many well-known popes.
He summoned the 1st Council of Constantinople. He promoted the veneration of martyrs. He commissioned St Jerome to translate the Bible into the Vulgate which remained the official version for over 1000 years. Pope St Damasus changed the liturgical language of the Church from Greek to Latin.

The Holy Scriptures say everywhere that it is good to wait for the Lord. This is the core message for us today.
"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."

Do you wait for the Lord for anything? Health, family well-being, financial peace, job, a new car, home? You should find much comfort in today's word of God.

"Don’t be impatient. Wait for the Lord, and he will come and save you! Be brave, stouthearted, and courageous. Yes, wait and he will help you." (Psalm 27: 14 TLB).

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Monday, December 09, 2019

The lost and found sheep.

"What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? (Matthew 18: 12).

Tuesday of the 2nd week of Advent. The Lord puts before us the parable of the Lost and Found Sheep. How do you feel when you lose or misplace something valuable? I do not consider myself a miser. I confess that I embarrass myself how diligently I search for something until I find it. Or I am forced to stop searching because the search has become absurd and ridiculous.

Once upon a time, I prepared for weeks to teach Young Adults Confirmation class, a 7 weeks course. I walked into the classroom on the first night and found just one sheep. Just one sheep? To make a long story short, I declined to go ahead with the course. The Lord came after me quickly. First, He sent the young man's mother to confront me the following Sunday. "I worked so hard to convince my son to register for the course with the hope that the course and the Confirmation Sacrament would lead him back to the Church."

The very next Sunday, we had the Parable of the Lost Sheep as the Gospel. At the end of the Mass, I have got more than enough lesson and rebuke for my misdeed.

"And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.  In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost." (Matthew 18: 13 - 14).

"Paris is worth a Mass," so the saying goes. If bringing home one lost sheep causes rejoicing in Heaven, God forbid that I will deny Heaven such a joy!

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Sunday, December 08, 2019

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

"Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1: 38).

Monday of the 2nd week of Advent is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (Moved from Sunday December 8th). What is the Immaculate Conception?

"To become the mother of the Savior, Mary "was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role." The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as "full of grace". In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God's grace." (CCC 490).

In other words, the Immaculate Conception is the special Gift God bestowed on Mary for her Mission.
Mission = Mother of the Redeemer.
Enabling gift is her sinlessness from the moment of conception.

I experienced my annunciation moment when I returned to the practice of the faith after 20 years of AWOL. God used my brokenness and placed me in a desert for a considerable time. One evening, I broke out in desperate prayer addressed to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The response to that prayer is unforgettable:
"ALL you need is the Holy Spirit." I went searching to find out what is the Holy Spirit. Many years after the blessed elocution, I came to understand what my response will always be: "Lord, let ALL that I need be always the Holy Spirit."

Do you believe that God can speak to you through a silent inner voice, through Sacred Scriptures, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in the Mass, through a human being?

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women." (Luke 1: 28)."

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