even “Tigers” make mistakes

“And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick;  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  Luke 5:31-32

this season of Lent, we are reminded of Christ’s passion and death on the Cross for the salvation of the world. though He is God, He assumed human form for this purpose.  He had felt every emotion such as joy and sadness, anger and mercy.  He felt hunger, pain, cold and heat.  Jesus even felt extreme agony to sweat blood in the garden of Gethsemane.  He was also subject to temptation just like us.  but Jesus found favor with our Father because He followed His will to fulfill the Word.  thus He overcame all weaknesses attached to our human nature.

fame, fortune and power allow us humans to see ourselves as gods.  at the top, everything  to satisfy physical desires and cravings are just at our fingertips.  our nature looks beyond limited possibilities to what we  thought we are capable to do.  we are blinded by a false sense of security and a twisted view of happiness.  only when we fall, do we open our eyes and find the true form of our humanity.  and most of the times, we need to fall really, really hard to realize that we are not gods.  we are human beings. 

it is during these moments that we suddenly discover the folly of our ways.  we realize that if we only focused at the top as the only end to our journey,  we would see that the top is really a sad place to be.  it is where everyone else looks up to with intense want to be in that place.  but it is a place for just a few where discipline, perseverance, endurance and restraint are necessary to stay.  otherwise, one false move and way down deep is the only direction to go.  and as it is always said, the higher we have reached, the harder our fall .

Tiger Woods is no different.  he is one of the richest, most famous and greatest athletes of our time.  his accomplishments as a golfer raised him to even more spectacular heights.  last year however, on Thanksgiving night, the spectacle ended because “of irresponsible and selfish behavior”.  Tiger, afterall, is only human. 

if Tiger, whose life seemed too perfect, can make mistakes,  so can we.  but the good news is, God is always ready to forgive.  although sometimes we don’t understand why we do the things we would rather not, God knows why.  He can read our minds and see what is in our hearts.  and though He never condones bad behavior, He makes a way to turn our life around even if that means letting us fall.  because when we are down on our knees, that is when we get closest to Him.

For God the Father so loved us, He sacrificed His only begotten Son.  He has the compassion and mercy enough to forgive our sins when we are deeply sorry.  let us not then be judges to others.  for the measure in which we judge others, will be the same measure that will be used to judge us.

remember you are dust

“Memento, homo … quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris” (cf. Gn 3:19).
“Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return.”

Yes. Today we need to hear the “you are dust and to dust you will return” of Ash Wednesday, so that the definitive truth of the Gospel, the truth about the Resurrection, will unfold before us: believe in the Gospel.

ROME (Catholic Online) – This homily was preached by the late Servant of God John Paul II during the Ash Wednesday Liturgy in Rome on February 21,1996. May his prayers help us all to deepen our own conversion during these 40 days. 

Ash Wednesday Homily

by: Pope John Paul II (reposted from 2/21/2009)
1. “Memento, homo … quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris” (cf. Gn 3:19). “Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return.”

The Church speaks these words in today’s liturgy, while ashes are placed on the foreheads of the faithful. These words come from the Book of Genesis: our first parents heard them after they had sinned. Original sin and original sentence. By the act of the first Adam, death entered the world and every descendant of Adam bears the sign of death within him. All generations of humanity share in this inheritance.

I once witnessed the opening of a royal sarcophagus in the cathedral of Krakow. It was the tomb of a great monarch who had ruled when my country was at the height of its splendor and power. I saw clearly with my own eyes how his body had turned to dust. In his case, death had fulfilled its relentless law. This will happen to each one of us: “To dust you will return.”

2. After the Council, the Church also likes to repeat another liturgical formula during the distribution of ashes: “Convertimini!” “Repent, and believe in the Gospel!” (Mk 1:15).

At the beginning of Lent, these words on Ash Wednesday are a plan of life for us. They are the words with which Christ began his preaching.

Repent: Metanoeite! The readings of today’s liturgy speak especially of this.

“Return to me”, the Prophet Joel proclaims (2:12).

And the psalmist cries: “Miserere mei, Deus, secundum misericordiam tuam”. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love, … of my sin cleanse men … I acknowledge my offense…. Against you only have I sinned…. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me…. Cast me not out from your presence, and take not your holy spirit from me” (cf. Ps 51[50]:3-13).

In the Gospel according to Matthew, it is Christ himself who explains the meaning of almsgiving, prayer and fasting, that is, of the actions by which we put sin behind us and return to God.

“Return to the Lord, your God” (Jn 2:13), exhorts the Lenten acclamation.

“Repent!”

“Repent and believe in the Gospel”.

3. What does “believe in the Gospel” mean? It means accepting the whole truth about Christ. The Apostle writes: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).

Christ, our justification.

It is in him and through him that the tragic knot indissolubly binding death and sin is loosed.

“The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is 53:6) … and he, Christ, takes that terrible burden on himself, so that in him we may become the righteousness of God.

Henceforth then, it is no longer the pair, sin and death, that prevails, but the other pair, death, his death on the Cross, and justification.

This fulfils what the Psalm proclaims: “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (51[50]:12). Create! Redemption is the new creation: in the justice and the holiness of the truth.

4. Why does the Church place ashes on our foreheads today? Why does she remind us of death? Death which is the effect of sin! Why?

To prepare us for Christ’s Passover. For the paschal mystery of the Redeemer of the world.

Paschal mystery means what we profess in the Creed: “On the third day he rose again”!

Yes. Today we need to hear the “you are dust and to dust you will return” of Ash Wednesday, so that the definitive truth of the Gospel, the truth about the Resurrection, will unfold before us: believe in the Gospel.

On the threshold of Lent, it is necessary that this perspective be opened before us, so that we may believe deeply in the Gospel with all the truth of our mortal existence.

We are called to take part in the Resurrection of Christ. For this appeal to resound within us with all its force at the beginning of the Lenten season, let us realize what death means… “You are dust” … “Repent! … Believe in the Gospel”!
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the suit

“Long before He laid down earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love.” Ephesians 1:4

in two weeks, my son Miguel will attend his JS prom.  though he won’t admit it, we can see how excited he is.  that is the first major formal gathering where he will wear a suit. 

last night, we finally found one shop with a Saudi tailor.  he can speak a bit of tagalog, which made us feel comfortable with the thought that he might have many Filipino clients to be able to learn it.  first thing we asked was if they accept made to order so that the suit would fit better.  he said no and suggested that maybe one from his collection would fit Miguel like so.

after trying on two black suits and the pants that go with them, one fitted him handsomely except for the sleeve which was an inch too long and the pants likewise need a bit of cutting.  after necessary measurements for alterations, we went home with the hope the when we pick up the suit tonight, it would fit Miguel perfectly, as if made only for him in mind.

human beings are custom-made for God’s purpose.    He created us in a mold which is unique and different from each other.  He created for a specific reason. 

it does not matter how insignificant we may seem in the eyes of men or how unpopular we have become.    we may have sinned in the past, and therefore think that even God had turned His back. but sincerely pray for his forgiveness, beg if we must and surely we would taste the fruits of the sacrifice of  Christ on the Cross.  then, we will be even more beautiful in His eyes again.

we fit in God’s grand plan, a living testimony to God’s endless love and mercy.

an understanding mind

“Give Thy servant an understanding mind to govern Thy people, that I may discern between good and evil…”  1 Kings 3:9

 I was told it is getting really hot back home in the Philippines.  The onset of summer is quite early this year.  Warnings of the effects of el nino such as drought and rotating brownouts are already in the headlines, as well as the expected rise in power rates and prices of some basic commodities.  Also expected are the high incidence of heat strokes and skin diseases.

But the Pinoy air gets hotter by the day even more, thanks to Pinoy politics.  In the months that follow,  May promises to become the hottest because of the elections that will take place.  The voting population are now divided between the hopefuls and the skeptics, and even more are the candidates. It is unavoidable that this competing personalities, parties and machineries will clash in pursuit of either power or genuine service to the people. 

It is therefore my fervent prayer, that these so-called leaders who are running the race would be like King Solomon who asked the Lord for an understanding mind to govern the people, not for power;  nor fame, nor fortune that usually come with such power.  But for the sake of our children, and of our children’s children, the one who is blessed to discern between what is good and evil would win the race.

for one more day

“…let the weakling say ‘I am strong!'”  Joel 3:10

they say grief is a process.  there’s no standard measure for how long it would take.  they say you would know the value of someone or something, only when you lose it.  old cliche.  they say we can’t really tell how it’s like until we go through it.

forty days it has been since Daddy passed on.  if i could describe how the process is like, it may be like a twister and i was sucked right into it.  there were times i would be spinning along the edges.  almost free, yet in danger of being thrown out.  there were moments too, when i find myself right in the center of it, empty and lost.  how long would it last? only God can tell.

the trouble with grief is, there is no school where to learn and master it.  very seldom would we want to read about it.  the learning starts when the pain begins, and oftentimes no one is ever ready.

we thought we were ready to let go of Daddy.  we had like about five months to witness how his body deteriorated from an old man to a helpless fusion of just skin and bones.  but when the time came, we realized no one in the family is prepared to ever let him go.

he is gone now.  we thought it would end there. just to think he is now free from pain and suffering.  just to think he is now at peace at the end of his journey.  but for those he left behind, another chapter begins.

life will never be the same again for me.  i know indeed it is measured by the years we live.  each year consists of months.  and months of days.  365 days.  yet one day can be so important, it can change the rest of our lives forever.

that was what happened on the 21st of December.  it was part of God’s grand plan for Daddy that he has to go exactly on that day.  but until now, i cannot take it that i missed that one very important day.  just one more day, when i could have been with him as he breathe his last.  not that i would have prevented it to happen.  but for me to feel the pain of one very important day slipping at the palm of my hands, yet a day less for Daddy to endure more than he ever could.   that was part of God’s grand plan too. 

indeed, grief is a painful process that each of us who love and care deeply would go through sometime in our lives.  one in which we would learn that life must not be measured by the days in which we live.  but by the love  we spread around. 

for one more day,  i will try to find my way out of the twister i am in.  with hope that one day, God would heal the wounds of my broken heart.