On Mercy

Luke 13: 10-17
Eph 4:32—5:8 / Psa 1

Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

Of many things I can’t discern,
Lord Jesus heal my crippled faith;
And if I fall please help me learn
To find the will to stand up straight.

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, He called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then He put His hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” When He said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things He was doing. (Luke 13:10-17)


The holiest day of the week for the Jews was the Sabbath, or for us Christians, Sunday, our sacred day when we are obliged to go to mass. Since it is the holiest day, it is not only the best day for worship, but also the best day for works of mercy. If we are asked not to work on Sunday, it is only to emphasize that this special day for worshipping the Lord must not be interrupted by any temporal matters.

All good works, including visiting the sick or the imprisoned, giving alms, or healing the sick or infirmed are not temporal distractions. On the contrary, they are all pleasing to God, and serve to glorify Him because all works of mercy are inspired by God. The best time to heal the sick and help the poor is on the Sabbath. It is the day of the Lord when He is most honoured for His Divine Mercy.

Pope Francis, in declaring this year as a year of mercy, has opened the door for most of us to follow the example of Jesus, our God of Mercy, and His mother Mary, who is the Blessed Mother of Mercy. This month of October is especially significant in this regard as this is the time when she is most honoured by the Church. We called our monthly worship last Friday as our Marian Prayer Assembly, and was led by one of our sisters in the brotherhood. It was the most well-attended prayer assemblies that our chapter had, showcasing the affection and devotion we hold for Mama Mary. I am sure the testimonies shared by some members have inspired many of us to seek her intercession in our prayers for God’s mercy for healing or other personal needs.

We read many instances in Luke’s Gospel where our Lord shows His compassion to women who needed it most, like the sick mother-in-law of Peter in Lk.4:38-39, the woman with a haemorrhage, and the raising of Jairus’ daughter in Lk.8:40-56, and even to those who did not ask for His help, as in the case of this crippled woman in the synagogue, and the poignant encounter of Jesus with a widow at Nain (Lk.7:12-15), where He brought her dead son back to life.

Lord Jesus, You have shown us that acts of mercy, and not the strict observance of laws are what make us righteous in the eyes of God. Help us to always be faithful in following Your example. Amen.

A Call to Repentance

Luke 13: 1-9
Eph 4:7-16 / Psa 122

For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
(Luke 13:7)

Life can be like a barren tree,
No fruits to share, just standing there;
Or it can bear abundantly
By serving in Christ’s ministry.

Some present at that time told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus told them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ The man replied, ‘Sir, leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” (Luke 13:1-9)


The Jews always associated suffering with sin. This was because historically, their ancestors were always beaten by their enemies and taken into exile whenever they turned to evil ways (like worshipping other gods). When Jesus was told that some Galileans were tortured and killed by Pilate in the temple, He told them that if they did not repent, they too would suffer the same fate. But Jesus’ message today is threefold: first, it is about the true purpose of suffering, which is the call to repentance. Second, true repentance is manifested in a fruitful Christian life. Third, Jesus also assures us of the patience and mercy of God.

In the old Testament, we read about the innumerable tragedies that befell the Chosen People because of their infidelity to their Covenant with God. It seems ‘fire and brimstone’ were the only way to bring the wayward Israelites back to their senses. But in the new teachings of Jesus, He shed new light to the meaning of suffering, as He himself was going to undergo its pangs, sinless though He was. According to Him, suffering is not necessarily caused by sin, but may only be a process of leading us to repentance. In His case, it was all for our own redemption. However, those who persist in their evil ways and do not heed God’s call to repentance will surely suffer a worse punishment — eternal fire.

Repentance is manifested in a fruitful life in the Spirit. St. Paul said that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal.5:22) These are just some of the qualities that we will acquire from our Lord Jesus Christ once we accept Him into our life. This late apostle also said, “If Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you.” (Rom.8:10-11) It is the Spirit of Jesus that makes us bear much fruit.

Jesus represents the Father’s patience and mercy. He is the ‘gardener’ in His own parable, pleading for the sinner’s life (the barren fig tree). He has cultivated us with His Word, and fertilized us with His own blood so that we may have new life and become fertile. If we still choose not to bear fruit after all that He has done for us, then we truly deserve the axe.

Dear God, we thank You for the grace of repentance, and for all the suffering and death that our Savior Jesus endured for our redemption. May we always cling to You, Lord Jesus, our True Vine, for You nourish us with Your Word that makes us produce fruit that is pleasing to the Father. Amen.

Interpreting the Signs

Luke 12: 54-59
Eph 4: 1-6 / Psa 24

You understand the signs of the earth and the sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the present times.
(Luke 12:56)

Lead us Lord to acquire Your grace
And learn how to judge what is right;
Jesus, teach us in subtle ways
To discern Your signs in our life.

Jesus said, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once: ‘Rain is coming,’ and so it happens. And when the wind blows from the south, you say: ‘It will be hot,’ and so it is. You hypocrites! You understand the signs of the earth and the sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the present times. And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? When you go with your accuser before the court, try to settle the case on the way, lest he drag you before the judge and the judge deliver you to the jailer, and the jailer throw you in prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny” (Luke 12:54-59)


The absence of sophisticated typhoon-forecasting equipment would have left weathermen constantly at a loss in predicting the arrival of atmospheric tempests that periodically play havoc in the typhoon belts of our country. Once upon a time, forecasters were forced to rely only on signs in the sky, including the behavior of birds and other winged creatures. This situation might be laughable, but without an accurate weather forecast, those who lived in areas most likely to be affected by the approaching storms were unable to prepare for the worst, and were left at the mercy of the elements. The recent aftermath of the typhoon Karen has shown the incalculable losses in agricultural crops, much of which were ready for harvest. However, a bigger tragedy in the number of lives lost would have happened if our meteorologists had not been as prepared in tracking the landfall of the typhoon.

The gospel passages of the past three days were most telling if not chillingly prophetic. Last Tuesday, the Gospel of Luke talked about an abundant harvest and the lack of harvesters (Lk.10:1-9). Wednesday’s Gospel (Lk.12:39-48) talked about the virtue of being vigilant, and yesterday’s Gospel (Lk.12:49-53) was the most ominous, with our Lord talking about “setting the earth on fire”, and instead of peace, being the cause of division. So many homes were certainly rent asunder by the recent pair of tempests, and many families lost their homes and livelihoods. These recent events may be mere signs of more catastrophic times to come if we do not turn to God in prayer and mend our sinful ways.

Jesus is telling us in today’s Gospel that when we see the obvious signs happening around us, then it should be time to act accordingly, to discern ‘what is right’ in managing our fragile environment and in healing our relationships. What our Lord was saying to the Jews then was for them to repent and change their ways, in the light of the many wondrous signs that He had been performing in their sight. The miracles that He performed were not the main purpose of His mission, but were merely signs meant to prove His divinity and lead sinners to their conversion. In the same way, the devastating forces of nature may also be signs from heaven that we must repent and change our ways. Otherwise, it may be too late if we still “don’t know how to interpret the present times.”

Father God, You alone know when the end is near, and we are like lost sheep caught in a storm, unable to discern the signs of the times. Grant us the grace, dear Lord, to realize our sinfulness and the errors of our ways before it’s too late. Give us another chance to become the sheep of your pasture for whom Your Beloved Son gave His all to win, so that His pains and death will not have been in vain. In His Holy Name we pray. Amen.

The Fires of Division

Luke 12: 49-53
Eph 3: 14-21 / Psa 33

Do you think that I have come to establish peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.
(Luke 12:51)

We must be bold to face the fires
Of life’s trials and tribulation;
This much from us our faith requires,
It’s for our own purification.

Jesus said: “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. For from now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three. A father will be divided against his son and a son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” (Luke 12: 49-53)


We find many accounts in the Bible when fire fell from heaven. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire and brimstone in the book of Genesis, 19:24-25. Moses called down fire from heaven as one of the ten plagues against the obstinacy of Pharaoh (Exodus 9:3). The prophet Elijah also called down fire from heaven that destroyed the soldiers of King Ahaziah who were ordered to fetch Elijah (2 Kings 1:9-17). But Jesus was not talking about the Old Testament kind of destructive fire. Our Lord was simply conditioning His disciples about the baptism of fire that He would soon undergo, and which they too would have to experience. However, they would be given the fire of the Holy Spirit first on Pentecost so that they could persevere in their trials of fire in the mission to spread the faith. Perhaps Jesus was also making a prophecy about the fires of division that His Church would undergo in the future generations.

The early Church was almost divided between the camps of Sts. Peter and Paul, due to the question of applying Judaic laws to the gentile converts. Then came the breaking away of the Eastern Orthodox Church from Rome. This was followed by the fire of Protestantism that split Christendom in Medieval Europe. Even in the present age, the Church continues to be rocked by the so-called liberation theology advocated by some members of the church hierarchy, and the disobedience of Catholics who are Masons. During the necrological services for a friend one afternoon, the officiating priest bluntly acknowledged in his homily that he was a Mason and started to defend his brotherhood against excommunication, much to the dismay of the conservative Catholics present.

Our own Christian renewal Brotherhood was not spared of this fire of division. Recently, our community also experienced a division of our Davao chapter into East and West. For the first time after seventeen years as a single chapter, we felt like being “torn apart into two.” At first there were apprehensions that the sudden reduction in numbers might affect the attendance in our prayer meetings and breakfast fellowships. But our fears were proven wrong when more guests were being invited to fill the vacuum. In the end, it turned out that division was the answer for our multiplication, and its fire, we’ve realized, is also one of purification, because many of us have gained a stronger faith for it.

Dear God, may the fire of the Holy Spirit transform us and fill us with boldness, that we may enkindle Your message of salvation in the hearts of other people. Amen.

Always Prepared to Serve

Luke 12: 39-48
Eph 3:2-12 / Isa 12

… from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
(Luke 12:48)

What do we have to sacrifice
For all the favors we receive?
When trials come, don’t be surprised,
Trust in God’s mercy and believe.

Jesus said to His disciples, “Be sure of this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.” Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?” The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:39-48)


What would you do if you knew (perhaps by some angelic revelation) that our Lord Jesus was coming down from heaven in a few days or so? Most likely, you would probably call out to all your relatives and friends and invite them to prayers and bible reading in your house; or you and your whole family would go to mass and confession, pray the rosary and/or the stations of the cross everyday; or you would probably even seek out the beggars in the streets and give them alms most generously!

Actually, in this age of the Holy Spirit we do not need any divine visitation or mystical event to undergo a spiritual transformation in our life. In fact, we should have realized by now that without so much fanfare, Jesus has already come back to our life in the form of the Holy Eucharist. All we have to do is receive Him as often as we can in the celebration of the Holy Mass. Receiving Him regularly is the best way to prepare ourselves for whatever purpose or mission God has intended in our life.

God is a God of abundance, and there are no limits to the blessings that He can pour into our lives. The problem is, we are so distracted by the pleasures and pressures of this world that we fail to appreciate His presence in the loving relationships of family and friends, the blessings of children and grandchildren, the simple pleasures of His creation, like the restful hours of dusk, and the invigorating sunrise on an early run. And of course our fitness and good health, and the wisdom of old age. For all these, we must always keep in mind the words of our Lord Jesus: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” It’s only fair that for all the protection and provisions that we have received from our Father, we must also give back (especially) to His little children –- not only material things, but more importantly, “every Word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mat. 4:4).

Dear God, we appreciate and thank You for all the good things You have provided in our life, and so we offer our life to You in the service of Your Church and the community where we belong. Grant that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit we may always willingly give our best, whether in works of charity or in proclaiming Your Good News to others. Amen.

Messengers of Hope

Luke 10: 1-9
2 Tm 4: 10-17b/Ps 145:10-13,17-18

The harvest is rich, but the workers are few; so you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to His harvest.
(Luke 10: 2)

We must be bold heralds willing
To share the Good News of the Lord;
We are all called to bring healing
To where men hunger for His Word.

Jesus appointed 72 other disciples, and sent them on ahead of Him, two by two, into every town and place where He himself was about to come. He told them, “The harvest is rich, but the workers are few; so you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to His harvest. Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, `Peace be to this house!’ If a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves his wages; do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you; heal the sick in it and say to them, `The kingdom of God has come near to you.’


The ministry of proclaiming the Good News was never meant only for a select few. This vital aspect of our Brotherhood’s culture takes on more meaning in this month of mission. All of us are urged to prepare our life testimony to be shared in breakfast meetings of our chapter or in other chapters or outreaches of the BCBP where one or a couple is invited. In this way we imitate the disciples of Christ who were sent to preach the hope of salvation. Whenever we share our spiritual transformation during a breakfast, it is like preparing our listeners for Jesus’ arrival in their lives. The task is not an easy one, and requires fervent prayers that our sharing may touch other brothers and sisters to become “workers” themselves in the Lord’s vineyard.

Ollie and I prayed for courage when we boarded the small aircraft in Cebu that took us on a mission to share God’s Word in Kalibo chapter and its Boracay outreach many years ago. No problem with provisions, as our brothers and sisters in those communities pampered us with sumptuous meals and first-class accommodations. Which goes to prove how true our Lord’s words are even to this day. Every Saturday, a couple or two from our chapter are invited to give their life testimony in far-off places like Malaybalay city, Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro city, or Butuan city, usually an eight to ten -hour bus trip from Davao.

God is called the Lord of the harvest because He is the one who sends out workers. He supplies all the speakers in the breakfast meetings of the various chapters and outreaches of BCBP all over the country. Members of our chapter regularly travel by pairs to share God’s Word. Many have been spiritually healed through this unique culture of our brotherhood.

Remember, we have only two important missions in this life: to save our soul, and to win another soul for Christ. We are fortunate to be members of this Brotherhood of Christ, because here we are afforded that opportunity through this unique culture of our breakfast sharing. Have you prepared your life testimony yet?

Help us, Father God to travel light in spreading the Good News of Your kingdom, not to be weighed down by temporal concerns, and to take courage in Your protection even as we are sent forth like lambs among ravenous wolves. Bless our mission, that those who hear Your message may also become workers in Your vineyard. Amen.