God’s Purpose for Planting Me

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

For three years now I have been looking for figs on this tree and I have found none. Cut it down, why should it use up the ground?
(Luke 13:7)

May the Lord show us how to serve
With compassion and true leadership;
With His Spirit help us to deserve
The Commission of His Stewardship.

Some people came and told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with that of their sacrifices. At this He said to them, ‘Do you suppose these Galileans who suffered like that were greater sinners than any other Galileans? By no means; but I tell you, unless you repent you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them — Do you suppose they were more guilty than all the other people living in Jerusalem? By no means, but I tell you, unless you repent you will all perish as they did.’ He told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it but found none. He said to the man who looked after the vineyard, “Look here, for three years now I have been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree, but have found none. Cut it down. Why should it be taking up the ground?” “Sir,” the man replied “leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it: it may bear fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down.” (Luke 13:1-9)

Reflection

For three years, during our stint as Mission Head couple of our Brotherhood, my wife and I gave much of our time and energies in going to our BCBP outreach in Gen. Santos city to attend the twice monthly breakfast fellowships there as well as the weekly afternoon seminars called Christian Life Programs that were held for building up the membership of the community. The CLPs ran for nine weeks, and normally the mission team would be heading back home on the two-hour trip when it was already dark. During those three years, we were able to hold five Christian Life Programs which ‘harvested’ a total of 100 new graduates for the outreach, half of whom are now active members of the community.

All of us who are called to go on mission for the Lord experience a vigorous spiritual purpose in our lives. There is a strong feeling that we are at the cutting edge of what Christian renewal is all about.

Many in the community think that attending seminars, group meetings and worship assemblies are enough to be considered active members. But these are just part of the growth and maturity of our commitment. What is the sense in raising a healthy tree if it does not bear fruits? It is better to cut it down than have it using up the fertility of the earth. If we have received a commission from the Lord, and our formation is complete, then it is time to step out and share our new life with others who are still searching for some meaning in their lives. And one does not have to go to far-flung outreaches to serve God and His community. He or she can invite at least one first-timer to the brotherhood’s weekly breakfasts. Or he/she can give witness to God’s goodness in his/her life by sharing their life testimonial in a BCBP breakfast fellowship. These too are mission works.

May we always cling to You, Lord Jesus, our True Vine, for You nourish us with Your Word and make us produce fruit that is pleasing to the Father. Amen.

The Fire of Division

Luke 12: 49-53
Eph 3:14-21/ Ps 33:1-2, 4-5,11-12,18-19

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

Don’t be afraid to face the fires
Of life’s trials and tribulation,
Trust in God’s plan, this He requires
For our spiritual formation.

Jesus said: “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already blazing! But I have a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather 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)

Reflection

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 whom he sent 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 follow. However, they would also be given the fire of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost so that they could persevere in their mission to spread the faith. Perhaps Jesus was also making a prophecy about the fire 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 Catholic 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 Brotherhood was not spared from this fire of divisiveness. Four years ago, misunderstandings between the past chapter head and the incumbent arose, and the chapter’s unit leaders took sides, some with the old and others with the new. The national leadership came and tried to mediate between the two groups. However, since both sides had hardened their positions, the national president discerned that perhaps the time had come for the chapter to split into two. As a result, the fire of division led to the multiplication of members, as the spirit of evangelization was rekindled in both chapters. God truly works in wonders His plans to accomplish.

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.

Being Prepared (II)

Luke 12: 39-48
Eph 3: 2-12/ Is 12: 2- 6

 

 

You also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 
(Luke 12:40)

Pray for the grace of vigilance
If salvation is what we desire.
In our quest for deliverance
Our full commitment is required.

 

 

Jesus said: “Know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect Him. Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?” Jesus answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master finds doing so when he returns. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant says to himself, `My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, 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 does not know, and will punish him severely. But the servant who does not know his master’s will, and does things deserving punishment will be punished lightly. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be  required; and of him to whom much had been entrusted, much more will be asked.”  (Luke 12:39-48)

 

Reflection

 

The message in today’s Gospel is about vigilance and preparedness. St. Paul echoed the same call in his letter to the Thessalonians, warning them that, “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly.”  Most people do not want to think about dying, but it is as certain as the falling of leaves in autumn and the sprouting of buds in spring.  Notice how people who are close to God are the ones who are not afraid to die. That is only because they have prepared themselves well for that eventuality

 

Death is the great equalizer.  It comes to all whether rich or poor, young or old, sick or healthy, prepared or unprepared. But how fortunate are those who are vigilant, even though they do not know the day or the hour. Four people we know, who led diverse lives, died one after the other. Being prepared was what they had in common. The first was “Bon”, a lay Eucharistic minister, who succumbed to liver cancer. He was followed by Nelson, who, after battling with cancer of the colon for more than a year said he was already tired, but ready to meet his Maker, looked forward to his final journey.  We were at his wake when we learned that “Sonny”, an active devotee of the Divine Mercy also took his final leave the night before, a victim of renal failure. Tonight we will be holding a prayer service for Glenn, the doctor son of a sister in our community, too young to go at 45 years old, but just as prepared as the others.

 

Let us not be discouraged by trials, troubles and fears, but just keep on believing and hoping in a God who brings everything to a good end. Life’s tribulations count for nothing if “we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with God.” (2 Pet.3:10-14)

 

Teach us, dear Lord, to be always watchful in everything that we think, say or do, as if today will be our last day on earth, so that we may never be afraid if ever it should be. Amen.

Being Prepared

Luke 12: 35-38          
Eph 2:12-22 / Psa 85

 

 

Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.
(Luke 12:35-36)

 

 

Blessed are they who are prepared
To serve in any circumstance;
From fears and dangers they are spared
Who live a life of vigilance.

 

 

”Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself to serve, have them recline at table and proceed to wait on them. Blessed are those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak.” (Luke 12:35-38)

 

Reflection

 

Our batchmates in high school are now in a frenzy about the urgency of organizing our reunion next year as the Golden Anniversary celebrants (H.S.Batch 1965) of the Ateneo de Davao University. Don’t get too excited, guys, relax… watch that blood pressure. Hardly a week passes that we do not learn about somebody we know succumbing to stroke or cardiac arrest.

 

Some of us were prudent in our younger years, preparing for the unknown future by diligently building up our businesses or careers,  securing educational plans for our children, getting insurance protection, and setting aside money for emergencies. In the process of accumulating such ‘financial and material buffers’ however, many of us may have neglected our health, or worse, our family relationships, especially our marriage. Now in our ‘golden years’ we have come to realize that preparing financially was not enough if we had neglected fitness, family, and above all, faith.

 

The most important thing in life is to be vigilant spiritually. How do we know that we are spiritually prepared?  When we make prayers a constant habit: upon waking up, before meals, the noon hour, the 3 o’clock Divine Mercy minute, the Angelus at 6, before bed. By making God’s Word (the Bible) a daily routine.  By receiving Jesus in the Holy Eucharist of the Mass not only during Sundays. By associating with like-minded, Spirit-led Christians who also put a premium on being spiritually prepared.

 

Scientific research has proven that people who are more charitable live longer, healthier lives. So we must be prepared all the time: to lend a helping hand, rather than be turned off by other people’s problems; to respond with gentle words, rather than let our emotions make worse an already bad situation; to be humble in victory, and maintain composure in defeat; to steer clear when temptations come along, but resolutely strive onward when the good is at stake; to evangelize anytime, anywhere, ‘anything that moves’.

 

Our Lord reminds us in today’s Gospel that we do not know the time or the hour when our time will come to leave this life.  That’s why we must always be ready to go – bags packed, all our affairs in order. Anytime, your number will be called, and when your time’s up, you’ll no longer be able to prepare.

 

When the final hour in my life arrives, Lord, may I be prepared to meet You. In the meantime, show me what I must do in order to be deserving of Your graces. Amen.

Greed Grasps, Generosity Gains


Luke 12:13-21
Eph 2:1-10 / Ps 100:1-5

 

Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for though one may be rich, a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.  
(Luke 12:15)

 

 

All wealth in life is an illusion,
Gold here on earth is in heaven dross;
If your faith lies in your possession
A greater treasure will be your loss.

 

 

A man in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator? Then He said to the crowd, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed, for though one may be rich, a man’s life does not consist of possessions.” And He told them this parable: “A certain rich man’s land produced a bountiful harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded of you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasures for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”  (Luke 12:13-21)

 

Reflection

 

Our Lord’s preaching was rudely interrupted by this man who was more concerned about his worldly wants rather than the eternal lessons that our Lord was teaching. But Jesus always employed any situation as an occasion to impart His wisdom, and in this instance, He warned His listeners to be on guard against the sin of avarice. A man in the grip of greed is usually one who is concerned only of himself, and has little concern for others. The rich fool in Jesus’ parable is talking to himself, and even refers to himself (the words “I” and “my”) eleven times. There is no mention of thanks to God or others for his good fortune, nor even plans to share his bumper crop. In fact, typical of a shrewd Shylock, he even plans to hoard the harvest so that he can wait for a better price, instead of flooding the market to benefit the public.

 

Against this evil of avarice God gives us the grace of generosity. In our community’s worship assembly last Friday, our prayer leader chose the theme “Generosity”, which is quite fitting for this month of mission, a time when we are to give of ourselves by bringing Christ’s Good News of salvation to others, or by donating money to our missionaries or our seminarians. In the short personal testimonies that followed, we were touched to hear the many creative ways by which the Holy Spirit had led some members to “give without counting the cost.”  Our worship leader shared about their sense of gratification in providing scholarship to an indigent youth who later became his mechanic. Another brother in Christ expressed his gratitude for the generosity of friends who helped him in his hospitalization expenses. One senior lady member even rued how frustrated she felt that she could not lend a huge amount of money to a colleague who sought her help. Many more shared about being charitable, but the most moving testimony was not about giving of her resources, but about sharing to a large audience in a mall Sis. Vicky’s bout with cancer, and how good the Lord was for having healed her completely. What she gave was more valuable than  money – to a lot of people suffering from afflictions– she shared her faith, and gave them hope.

 

Lord, give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Lest, having too much I deny You saying, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or being in want, I steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. (Prov. 30: 8-9) Thank You, Lord for everything in my life, especially for a loving family and a prayerful community.  Amen.

Messengers of the Good News


Luke 10: 1-9
2 Tm 4: 10-17b/ Ps 145: 10-11. 12-13. 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.’ (Luke 10:1-9)

Reflection

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 a small aircraft in Cebu that took us on a mission to share God’s Word in Kalibo chapter and its Boracay outreach years ago. No problem with provisions, as our brothers and sisters in those communities pampered us with sumptuous meals and first-class accommodations. How true our Lord’s words are even to this day. In today’s breakfast fellowship, we are privileged to have Bro. Francis, the Chapter Head of Butuan chapter deliver his life testimony. In turn, I will also share my life story next Saturday in his chapter in far-off Butuan city, a five-hour (or more) drive 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. BCBP members regularly travel by pairs to the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Malaybalay, Valencia, Tagum, Panabo, Digos, Gen. Santos, Marbel, Butuan and Iligan to share God’s Word. Many breakfasters have been spiritually transformed in this unique culture of our brotherhood.

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.