Perseverance in Prayer

Luke 11: 5-13
Mal 3:13-20b / Psa 1:1-4,6

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
(Luke 11:13)

What supplication could be denied
When prayed in humble submission?
His Holy Spirit will provide
For God is full of compassion.

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’ Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:5-13)


Those who were listening to the story of Jesus could relate to the dire predicament of the man who was visited by a friend who had come from a long journey. He had to find bread for his visitor at any cost, because failing to show hospitality to his weary visitor was like giving in to a great failing and a disgraced reputation. That was why he was willing to go to shameless lengths – waking up his neighbor and his whole household at midnight – to beg for bread! Even up to the present time, the people in the Middle East, especially in Israel, are still noted for their special brand of hospitality. They believe that they will receive a greater blessing for opening their homes to travelers, especially visitors from a foreign land.

The message of our Lord in this parable is two-fold: first, when we need something, we must ask and seek for it with persistence, even without shame; knocking continuously until the one from whom we are seeking a favor surrenders to our will. And we can be so bold only because what we are asking or praying for is not for ourselves but for the benefit of other people. Our Lord is saying that our prayers are more effective when they are petitions for the sake of others, because in such cases our prayers are acts of mercy. Secondly, in the same manner, when someone comes to us in desperate need, it is not just an option, but always an obligation to extend the help if we have the capacity to do so. It is a God-given privilege to be able to help when the occasion calls for it. As an advocate for blood donation, even total strangers call for help when their loved ones are in need of blood components. With the prevalence of dengue fever, our Red Cross blood center often runs out of platelet concentrates. With God’s grace I was able to help a friend secure up to 12 units of platelet concentrate for her daughter who was stricken with dengue fever a few days ago. I believe our prayers played a bigger factor in the “rescue operation”.

In our perseverance, Jesus tells us that our Father in heaven will not refuse to answer our prayers. He is far more generous and compassionate than any father on earth can ever be. If ever we do not receive what we are praying for, it may be because our Father in heaven has something better to give us. In most cases, He will “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” What gift can ever be better than the wisdom of the Holy Spirit? Finally, Jesus is telling us that whatever the situation we are in, we just have to trust in His Father’s mercy.

Almighty Father, grant us the grace to pray with a trusting heart, to believe that even before we pray You already know what is good for us. Amen.

Our Daily Prayer

Luke 11: 1-4
Jon 4:1-11 / Ps 86:3-6,9-10

Lord, teach us to pray…
(Luke 11:1)

Let our prayers be for others,
Not only for our own desires;
Trust all our needs to our Father
Who always listens, never tires.

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who sins against us. And do not subject us to the final test.’” (Luke 11:1-4)


In the old days before the time of Jesus and the advent of the Holy Spirit, the Jews worshipped God by offering sacrifices, and usually, as a community. Only the Levites, the priestly clan of Israel, could lead or represent the people in prayer. It was only when John the Baptist, led by the Holy Spirit, came into the scene and taught his disciples how to pray that the hunger of the Jews for a more personal relationship with their God Yahweh was satisfied. As he baptized them in the river Jordan, they no longer felt that their God was a distant God, but a very personal one. One of the apostles of Jesus, a former follower of John, must have been ‘awakened’ to this novel form of worship, and so asked the Master, Whom they always witnessed in deep meditation, to further enlighten them about personal prayer.

Our Lord Jesus taught us in “The Lord’s Prayer” that the Father is a person, Who responds to our prayers according to the sincerity of our intentions. Nothing is too great or too little for His consideration. He loves to hear His children praying not because He desires to be adored, but because it pleases Him to see them growing in holiness through their prayers.

Too often we find it difficult to pray when our prayers become mechanical, a force of habit, or a routine that must be done with before we get on with the day’s work, sit down for a meal, or hit the sack at the end of the day. Let’s face it: we only get serious with our prayers when we are asking God for something. But God doesn’t mind that we remember Him only in need. As long as we have faith in His Divine Providence, and the answer to our prayers adds to our spiritual growth, He will fulfill our supplications. When our two grandsons (3 years old and 11 months then) were both sick, our daughter related their sleepless nights together. We told her that we would pray for the kids’ healing that night. And we did, quite fervently, asking the Father to please grant us our prayer for the boys’ healing. The next morning, our daughter called us to say that they all had a restful sleep and the two kids were both fine and no longer had any fever. I remembered then the words of St. Paul, who wrote that “in everything God works for the good of those who love Him” (Rom. 8:28) I believe our God is really a very loving personal Father. Jesus said, “If you who are sinful can give what your children asks for, how much more Your heavenly Father?” He will certainly give what we ask for as long as we surrender to His will.

The most important part of the Lord’s Prayer is: “Forgive us our sins”, because from the very start of His ministry, Jesus had always preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Just as we need to ask for our needs on a daily basis, we also need to pray continually for God’s forgiveness in order to draw ourselves farther away from our former sinful ways. But the road to perfection is not only in receiving God’s forgiveness, but also in forgiving everyone who sins against us. Our forgiveness must surely depend on our forgiving. “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions” (Mt.6:14-15).

Heavenly Father, forgive us for the times when we doubted. Thank You for being so loving, patient and understanding, and for increasing our faith in You. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for teaching us how to pray. Through Your prayer, we have been drawn into a more personal relationship with Your Father, our Father. Amen.

Listening At the Feet of Jesus

Luke 10:38-42
Jon 3:1-10 / Psa 130:1-4,7-8

…you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.
(Luke 10:42)

How much time do I spare for the Lord?
What do I value as my treasure?
It is by listening to His Word
That my spirit finds its good pleasure.

As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)


It confounds us at first why Jesus didn’t advise Mary to help Martha, who was burdened with preparing dinner all by herself for Jesus and His companions. After all, women during that time were not supposed to concern themselves with lessons from the Torah or the teachings of rabbis. Their place was in the kitchen, preparing dinner or refreshments for the guests. But our Lord had a more important lesson to impart to Martha and her other guests, as well as to future generations of His followers. “You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from her.” What Jesus was saying is this: we are so distracted about so many unimportant things in life (which we wrongly believe are more important) that we miss out on the things that really matter. What could be more important than the salvation of our soul? Remember, at that time Jesus had very little time left, so eating a meal was hardly more important than feeding His disciples’ souls with the wisdom of His words. Remember that in another occasion, when His mother and brothers came to see Him, He told the crowd, “My mother and brothers are those who hear the Word of God and put it into practice.” (Lk.8:21)

“Only one thing is needed,” and that is to develop our faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ by “listening” to His Word. Like Mary, we need to stop for a while from all the temporal things that we have been so concerned about, and step back to assess our life. We need to ask ourselves some important questions that impact our relationship with the ONE Whom we may have been neglecting for some time due to the selfish pursuits of a vacuous life. Where am I now? What do I plan to do with the rest of my life? How are my relationships with my spouse, my children, my in-laws, my co-workers, and the members of my church or community? How am I doing in my relationship with God, my Creator?

These are the kind of questions that we usually ask ourselves when we take time out for a recollection or retreat. On one such occasion last weekend (National Leaders Retreat), our retreat master and spiritual director inspired us to listen to the Word of God, and to understand how it positively affects our relationships in our family and in our community. In that short period we came to realize how much we need God in every moment of our life, and yet how little of our time we give to Him, much to our spiritual loss. We all need to periodically take time out from our businesses or professions to commune with our God and His wonderful creation. I believe we owe it to ourselves as much as to our souls.

Father God, forgive us whenever we’re too busy to take time out to listen to Your Word. Many times we are so engrossed with “important” matters that we find it difficult to just sit still in Your presence. Forgive us for giving more importance to our own agenda rather than Yours. Grant us the grace to listen with a humble heart and an attentive mind to what You are teaching us everyday. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

My Enemy is My Neighbor

Luke 10:25-37
Jon 1:1—2:1-2,11/Jon 2:3-5,8

“Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
(Luke 10:25)

Jesus is our Good Samaritan
Who came to save mankind from sin;
May we also lend a helping hand
To one in need, enemy or kin.

An expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Jesus replied, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had treated him with mercy.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10: 25-37)


We can only imagine how this must have rlled the Jews when our Lord chose a Samaritan as the hero in His parable about being a good neighbor. It was hard enough for them to listen to Jesus doing a smear job on the honor of the priests and Levites in His story, but to make a Samaritan the model of mercy in the parable was an even more bitter pill to swallow. After all, the priests and Levites were considered by the Jews as a privileged class whom they held in high respect. The Samaritans, on the other hand, were a tribe of “half-breeds” who intermarried with Gentiles when the northern region of Israel was occupied by the Assyrians. Although estranged from the Jews, they were also claiming to be descendants of Abraham. The Jews hated them and considered them as their enemies, if not traitors in their own country.

Our Lord was sending out a powerful message to the Jews of His time about the difference between their observance of the Judaic laws (which the lawyer represented), and the grace of God (represented by the Samaritan’s compassion) as the path “to inherit eternal life”. By showing the attitude of the priest and the Levite, whose fear of “being defiled” prevented them from extending mercy to the suffering man along the road, He was making it evident that it was virtually impossible to be saved simply by obeying the law. Salvation can only come as grace from God, and not as obedience to laws formulated by men.

We are assured of salvation if we follow God’s commandment of love, not by sacrifices, or by being faithful to the law. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father” (Mt.5:43-45). This teaching explains why Jesus used the Samaritan (the enemy) as the favored protagonist in His parable, to show that when it comes to God’s love and mercy, there is no enemy. Even those we consider as our enemies are loved by God, Who “makes His sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes His rain to fall on the just and the unjust” (Mt.5:45). When we have learned how to love our enemies, then we will have earned God’s grace of salvation.

Dear God, Jesus’ Parable of the Good Samaritan has convicted our selfishness, our pride, and our prejudice. May we “go and do likewise” whenever a situation requires acts of mercy from us. May Your compassion flow freely out of our hearts for friend or foe in need. Amen.

The Feast of the Guardian Angels

Matthew 18: 1-5, 10
Ex 23:20-23 / Ps 91

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.
(Matthew 18:10)

Dear Guardian Angel, be my guide
That I may never be misled;
Please always be here at my side,
Protect me in the paths I tread.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to Him a child, He put him in the midst of them, and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child 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. (Matthew 18: 1-5, 10)


There are many passages in the Bible confirming the existence of angels, who serve as “messengers from heaven”, and protectors of God’s followers. Although the concept of a ‘guardian angel’ assigned to every Christian has not been a definitive doctrine of the Catholic Church, this passage in Matthew 18:10 has been commonly cited by theologians to support this idea. Another verse we can cite is Psalm 91:11: “God commands the angels to guard you in all your ways.” The writer of Hebrews, 1:14 also said: “Are they (angels) not all ministering spirits sent to serve, for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” This inspired St. Jerome to say: “how great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it.” St. Basil the Great taught that “each and every member of the faithful has a guardian angel to protect, guard and guide them through life.” St. Bernard of Clarivaux, who promoted devotion to the guardian angels, cited them as proof “that heaven denies us nothing that assists us”, therefore, “these celestial spirits have been placed at our sides to protect us, instruct us and to guide us.”

My parents were firm believers in the protection of their guardian angels. Once, on a tour in Hawaii, the car that they hired went over a cliff. It landed in the branches of a large tree that had grown on the side of the cliff. They went back to their hotel with nary a scratch. My father was a guerilla fighter during the Japanese occupation, and later on served as the first chief of police in Davao after the war. He had the uncanny confidence that nothing harmful could befall him, even riding logs down a river in his early years in the timber business. That was how he earned from his employees the monicker Phantom. But it was his faith in God’s protection that made him believe that his guardian angel was always there to keep him safe.

In the first reading, God told His Chosen People, “Behold, I send an angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place which I have prepared. Give heed to him and hearken to his voice, do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my authority resides in him” (Ex. 23:20-21).

As faithful followers of Christ, today’s short Gospel passage gives us the peace of mind and confidence that in facing difficult situations, we can be “trusting little ones” that the Lord guides and protects through the ministry of His holy angels.

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love entrusts you here; ever this day be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide. Father God, thank You for keeping me safe and free from evil with the presence of my guardian angel. Amen.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Luke 10:1-12
Ne 8:1-4a,5-6,7b-12/Ps 19:8-11

The harvest is rich, but the workers are few.
(Luke 10:2)

When we are sent on God’s mission
Don’t worry about provision;
All that we need the Lord will give
As long as we fully believe.

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place where He planned to go. He told them, “The harvest is rich, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on that person; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, `Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off against you; nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on that day for Sodom than for that town..” (Luke 10:1-12)


October is the month of mission. This is probably the reason why our Catholic Church commemorates this day in honor of St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as “The Little Flower of Jesus”, and the patron saint of missionaries. When her two elder sisters became cloistered nuns in a Carmelite convent, St. Therese decided to follow them. The Carmelite Superior and the bishop however refused to admit her as a novice because she was only fourteen years old. But on a pilgrimage to Rome with her father and a chance audience with the pope, she broke protocol and begged the pope’s intercession for her vocation. Impressed by her courage and determination, the Vicar General interceded on her behalf, and soon she was accepted as a novice in the Carmelite convent with her two sisters. St. Therese never went on a mission, but the hundreds of prayers and letters that she wrote in support of the missionaries of the Church brought her the recognition that she had always humbly avoided. Although she never aspired to achieve great deeds, her numerous little sacrifices inspired thousands of the faithful to imitate this “Little Flower of Jesus” on her path to holiness and sainthood. She never looked back, but plowed on in spite of her severe illness, which led to her death at the young age of 24. Let us honor St. Therese of Lisieux by following her example when we are called to serve in our community, or simply to give witness about our conversion. Let her be our model in our struggle to be pure and faithful to God’s will. As St. Paul said in his letter to the Galatians, “Stand firm and never submit again to the yoke of slavery (sin)… Live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.” (Gal.5:1,17) Let us pray to St. Therese, that in this battle against the flesh, our spirit may be victorious.

In the last chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, before our Lord ascended into heaven, He comman-ded and commissioned His disciples by addressing them in these words: “Full authority has been given to Me both in heaven an on earth; go therefore and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world” (Mt. 28:18-20). He also said, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (Jn. 20:21). God the Father sent Jesus to proclaim the kingdom of heaven; now Jesus gives the same commission to us to bring the light to those who still live in darkness.

Evangelization is life’s mission entrusted to every disciple of Jesus Christ. He said, “If you wish to be a follower of mine, deny yourself and take up your cross each day, and follow me. For if you choose to save your life, you will lose it, and if you lose your life for my sake, you will save it. What does it profit you to gain the whole world, but lose your soul? Let us not be ashamed to speak up for the Gospel and for our faith, and let us not look back to what we’re leaving behind, but look forward to our eternal reward.

Grant us, O Lord, the grace to be bold in proclaiming Your Word in our marketplace. As St. Therese is our model and inspiration, let Your Holy Spirit guide us in our life’s mission, so that we may be worthy of Your kingdom. St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for us. Amen.