Hearts of Stone

John 10: 31-42

Jer 20: 10-13 / Psa 18

Is it not written in your law, “I said, you are gods”?
(John 10:34)

In His message Jesus has shown

That each man has something divine;

Thus we must change our hearts of stone

To hearts of God’s will and design.

The Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus said, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?’ The Jews answered, ‘It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.’ Jesus answered, ‘Is it not written in your law, “I said, you are gods”? If those to whom the word of God came were called “gods”—and the scripture cannot be annulled— can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, “I am God’s Son”? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.’ Then they tried to arrest Him again, but He escaped from their hands. He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and He remained there. Many people came to Jesus, and said, ‘John performed no miracles, but he spoke about you, and everything he said was true.’ And many in that place became believers. (John 10:31-42)


Jesus cited Psalm 82:6, “I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High…’ to counter the charge of blasphemy against Him. Although He was really telling the truth that He was the Son of God, He did not impose His will on the Jews because He wanted them to believe according to the wonders that they had seen Him perform. But they were a people with hearts made of stone– too proud to set aside their traditional monotheistic belief to accept Jesus’ claim that He was really their Messiah, God Incarnate, Who had come to reveal His divinity to men.

Every person has God within him, because we are not only made in His image and likeness, but by Christ’s death and resurrection, we have been made one with Him as children of God, and inheritors of His kingdom. What an awesome thought! And yet, if we reflect deeply on the matter, we are truly gods in the way God had designed our existence. As Scriptures say, God made us “a little less than a god, …crowned with glory and splendor… made lord over the work of His hands, … set all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:5-6). If God had not regarded us with such esteem, would He have taken all the trouble to humble Himself, be shamed and tortured and died for our sake? That’s how precious we are in God’s eyes. So how come we can’t accord the same kind of regard and respect for our fellow human beings? How come we find it so easy to throw stones of insults, threats, or unfair judgments at those who are different from us, or just because we consider them below our station?

Many years ago, there was an uproar over a Hong Kong columnist’s demeaning and racist statement about the Philippines as being a “nation of servants”. Our reaction showed how much we value our dignity as a people. And yet the same newspaper carried accounts of hundreds of unsolved killings happening in our country, minors being driven to prostitution, the high incidence of drug addiction, abortion, and rape. How do we find the sacred and the godly in this environment? There is something very wrong in the character of our people, and so we must fervently pray for God’s intervention to help us conform our nation to His divine will and design.

Help us, dear God to draw closer to You, so that our every thought, word and act may be in accordance with your Will, and we may be worthy to receive Your beloved Son into our lives. Amen.

Jesus, Our Hope of Life Eternal

John 8: 51-59

Gen 17: 3-9 / Psa 105

Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!
(John 8:58)

Our life is like a drop of water

In the ocean of eternity;

But if you want to live forever,

Let Jesus’ Word guide your destiny.

Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know Him, I know Him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know Him and obey His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” They said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone Him, but Jesus hid Himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. (John 8:51-59)


It is quite obvious in this conversation between Jesus and the Jews that our Lord was not getting across to them, simply because they would not believe that He came from God, and was indeed God. Why our Lord kept the dialogue going was only for the benefit of His apostles and for us, future generations of Christians. He showed them that He could speak boldly to the crowds, without fear of bodily harm, “easily slipping away from the temple grounds.” They could not kill Him because His time had not yet come. It was the same situation in Nazareth, where His town mates were infuriated by His words, and tried to kill Him by hurling Him down from a cliff, but “He passed through the midst of them and went away” (Lk.4:30). These were enough signs that he was indeed what He claimed to be. But the Jews were so blinded by their anger, concluding that Jesus was committing blasphemy by claiming intimacy with Yahweh, (and even existing before Abraham), that they would rather commit murder than give Him the benefit of the doubt.

It is only for the sake of those who will be saved that our Lord stated the obvious: “Before Abraham was born, I am!” If you do not believe these words, then you are just as deaf and blind as the Jews who wanted to stone our Lord in the temple grounds. Jesus assures us, “Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” Obeying His word means believing in everything that He has spoken in the Gospel. His words are not only the truth, they are the way to life eternal itself. Only those who do not believe in His words will “die in their sin.”

Jesus might as well be “hiding Himself” from those who do not believe in Him and in His words. But for us who have come to know Him and love Him for what he has done for us, He has filled our hearts with joy, as well as the hope of someday sharing His glory with God our Father in heaven.

As I stood on the beach one morning, catching my breath after jogging, the beauty of the rising sun coming up from the flat horizon made me pause to ponder my life – like a drop of water, no, a speck of sand in this vast ocean of God’s creation. How can this speck of microscopic being, no more significant than the particles of sand beneath my feet have any importance to the Maker of creation? And yet Jesus said, “Even the hairs of your head are counted” (Mt.10:31). His Father even promised: “Even if a mother forgets her infant, I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name” (Isaiah 49:15-16).

What do I have to do, Lord, in order to be worthy of your great Love and be assured of your Kingdom? Beloved Father, Your Word shall be my daily occupation, writing about it, sharing and declaring Your Good News in the assembly of our community. “Let the words of my mouth meet with your favor, keep the thoughts of my heart before you, Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:15). Amen.

True Freedom

John 8: 31-42
Dan 3:14-20,91-92,95 / Dan 3:52-56

If you abide by my word, you are truly my disciples; you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
(John 8:31-32)

Once in the darkness, we had been
Blind to the Truth, now we can see;
Why remain in the chains of sin
When the Word of God sets us free?

Jesus said, “If you abide by my word, you are truly my disciples; you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” But they replied, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, “You will be set free”?’ So Jesus explained to them, “Amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.’
They answered him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did, but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are indeed doing what your father does.’ They said to him, ‘We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me.” (John 8:31-42)


In the first reading we read about King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon forcing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, to worship the golden statue that he had set up, otherwise they would be cast into a blazing furnace. But the young Jews chose to die rather than obey the king’s command, showing their freedom to worship the only true God.

In today’s Gospel of John, the Jews thought Jesus was talking about political freedom, liberation from the Romans, as Israel then was under the yoke of Rome. But Jesus was talking about spiritual freedom, the freedom from sin and alienation from God. Much like the error of the Jews in Jesus’ time, many people today think freedom means being independent, possessing the power of choice to do whatever they wish to do as they please. This is certainly not the kind of freedom that Jesus was talking about, because this only leads us away from the truth. What our Lord is teaching us in today’s Gospel is liberation from the bondage of sin, which only the truths in the Gospel can accomplish. Jesus is teaching us that if we abide by His Word, the Holy Spirit will empower and guide us to live our lives according to God’s will.

The license to disobey the decrees of God and His Church for our own pleasure or selfish gain is a delusion, because we are actually enslaved by Satan when we are in the state of sin. There can never be peace of mind in such bondage. It is like saying “I am free to take drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes, because I have freedom of choice.” Where is freedom when you become addicted to these harmful substances? Where is freedom when you cannot stop taking them even when you know they can only lead to your own destruction? Sinful acts are no different, because ultimately, if we do not reconcile ourselves to our Lord Jesus, we will have to pay the price for them.

Let us not fool ourselves that we can pursue the world’s pleasures and remain in God’s good graces at the same time. For “no man can serve two masters.” In this season of Lent, let us spend more time reading God’s Word in the Bible, rather than indulging in worldly activities that only distract us from our true purpose in life.

Thank you, Jesus, for Your Word, which has freed us from the bondage of sin and ignorance, and has become the sword and armor in our lives. Amen.

The Way of Redemption

John 8: 21-30
Num 21:4-9 / Psa 102:2-3,16-21

… if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.
(John 8:24)

Before the cross is my reflection:
In our trials and tribulation,
Lord we share in Your crucifixion
As a process of our salvation.

Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.” This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?” But He continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” They asked, “Who are you?” Jesus replied, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.” They did not understand that He was telling them about His Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” Even as He spoke, many believed in Him. (John 8:21-30)


As we meditate on the Gospel reading of John, two important lessons from Jesus are revealed to us: faith in Him, and obedience to the Father’s will. These two in fact are the main, if not the only considerations in the life of every Christian that will guarantee a peaceful existence in this life, and our eternal destination.

Jesus said, “. . . if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins” (John 8:24). All true believers know by heart the sacred words spoken earlier by our Lord in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.” If you do not or cannot believe that Jesus is the Son of God Who became man more than 2,000 years ago in order to redeem us from our sins by willingly offering His life on the cross, “you will indeed die in your sins.” When a certain person close to me admitted that he had been remiss in joining family reunions, but pledged to make up for it in due time, I thought it was an opportunity to remind him that his smoking and drinking and lack of sleep may not be working in his favor. I said perhaps a reunion with his Maker should be his priority. Sadly, he brushed my advice aside, and said he didn’t have time to talk about spiritual matters. Looking at his frail body as he lighted another cigarette, I thought he certainly did not have the luxury of time.

Jesus said, “The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him” (John 8:29). Obedience to the laws of God is what pleases Him. That is more important than trying to please ourselves or other people in our lives. In fact no matter how hard we try to be pleasant or good to others, as I was trying to do with that person close to me, more often we will only be disappointed. There are times in our life when our efforts to win souls for Christ are ignored or even rebuffed. But as true followers of Jesus, we should never be discouraged or intimidated. All the more we should give it our best shot, because we believe it is what pleases God our Father.

Thank You, Jesus for giving us the will and inspiration to persevere in spreading Your Good News of salvation. Faith in Your Word and doing what is pleasing to God, our Father in heaven are what motivate us in our life’s mission.

The Feast of St. Joseph

Matthew 1:16,18-21,24
2 Sm 7:4-5,12-14,16 / Ps 89 / Rom 4:13,16-18,22

. . . he did what the angel of the Lord had ordered him and took Mary home as his wife.
(Matthew 1:24)

St. Joseph, humble spouse of Mary,
Blessed model in our hurts and pain,
Inspire us never to grow weary
Serving God for our eternal gain.

. . . Jacob (was) the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. . . This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’”. When Joseph awoke, he did what the angel of the Lord had ordered him and took Mary home as his wife. (Matthew 1:16,18-21,24)


Joseph, the husband of Mary, and foster father of Jesus, was just a poor unlettered carpenter, but he was a man of quiet dignity and strength of character. When he learned that his betrothed was pregnant, he decided to divorce her secretly, so as not to expose her to shame. But an angel appeared to him in a dream and told him, “It is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her” (Mt.1:20). He told him that this happened in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy

One of the greatest patriarchs in the Old Testament, and the closest precursor of the Messiah was Joseph, one of the two sons of Jacob by Rachel. He was known as ‘Joseph, the Dreamer,’ the earliest mystic who became the savior of Israel when he was sold as a slave to Egypt. Because of his dreams, he saved nations from the 7 years of famine that followed the 7 years of bountiful harvests. The Pharaoh of Egypt put him in charge of his whole kingdom, becoming the most powerful man in Egypt next only to the Pharaoh at the young age of thirty.

Joseph, the husband of Mary, like his Old Testament counterpart, was also begot by a man named Jacob. He was also enlightened through a dream. But unlike Joseph of Egypt, he never saved any nation in his lifetime. In fact, he never spoke or wrote a single word in the Bible. He was perhaps the meekest and humblest of all the saints. But God saw fit that this lowly carpenter would be the protector and guardian of the Redeemer of the world. Next to the Blessed Mother, he is the greatest of all saints.

St. Joseph’s feast day comes after my natal day. He is my patron saint and model. I believe I have become a good husband and father largely because of the influence of St. Joseph, although my wife insists it was her devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary that kept me firm in my fidelity to our marriage vows.

Fittingly, St. Joseph is known as the patron saint of laborers and fathers. Most of us, who labor to spread God’s Word and fathers, should look up to the righteousness of St. Joseph, who is the model of all men who wish to remain faithful sons of God.

St. Joseph, beloved foster father of our Savior, pray for us, that we may always be strong in our commitment to serve your beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

My Pledge to Jesus

John 7: 40-53
Jer 11:18-20 / Psa 7: 2-12

No man ever spoke like this man!
(John 7:46)

Your will, O Lord, is our command
In our quest for transformation;
Grant us the grace to understand
Your divine plan of salvation.

When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This is really the prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the scripture said that the Christ is descended from David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” So there was a division among the people over him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. The officers then went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this man!” The Pharisees answered them, “Are you led astray, you also? Have any of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, who do not know the law, are accursed.” Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and you will see that no prophet is to rise from Galilee.” They went each to his own house.


Jesus provoked different responses from among the people who heard Him preach. Some were excited: “Could this be a prophet from God?” Others were convinced that “This is the Christ.” And still others were skeptical that He was the Messiah as they questioned His origin. The Pharisees and Scribes reacted with anger and cynicism, as they viewed Him a threat to their established traditions. Nicodemus was the only one among them who had enough sense to give Jesus the benefit of the doubt, but he was not brave enough to compromise his standing with his peers, and so backed down. But the power of Jesus’ words also moved the temple guards who were sent to arrest Him. They came back empty handed because “His time had not yet come.”

Jesus lived up to His word when He said that He had not come to bring peace upon the earth, but division (Mt.10:34). Through the centuries, many have indeed been divided in their relationship with Christ. God has given us a free will, the power to make a choice: to take a stand for Christ and the Gospel, or to continue pursuing our own deluded quest for freedom and self-determination. To follow the example of Jesus and offer our lives in selfless love for God and others, or to follow our self-centered desires according to the standards of the world, as opposed to God’s kingdom. During this time of Lent, let us meditate on this important crossroads in our life. And may we follow the choice of Joshua, the successor of Moses, who said, “Decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

Tomorrow I finally reach the critical age of 70. Having witnessed the passing on of four friends and acquaintances one after the other in a matter of a few weeks, I can hardly thank the Lord enough for revealing the futility of this mortal life, and the wisdom of serving Him and the Gospel in the few remaining years of existence in this world. Like Joshua, I solemnly declare: “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord in our community, whatever it takes.” We can do no less in gratitude to God, plus the sure hope of a future, eternal celestial home.

Disturb me, O Lord, if You must, that I may always be loyal to You. I surrender my will to Your cross, that I may earn the eternal glory of Your kingdom. Amen.