Gathering the sheep
SEPTEMBER 29, 2019
My Dear Parishioners,
How can you tell if you are already rich? How many thousands or millions of dollars you should have for you to consider yourself rich? What is the measure of material wealth? Someone said, “You are rich once you are able to say, „I have enough,‟ and when you are able to share with others the surplus of what you have.” Come to think of it, someone can have a hundred pairs of shoes and still say, “I need more.” On the other hand, one can have three pairs of shoes and say, “This is more than enough for me.”
Our sense of need determines our sense of being rich. We are rich when we think we have already acquired everything that we need. Once one‟s need is met and satisfied, whatever is left is considered surplus. With surplus comes the sense of abundance. With abundance comes the desire to share. And with sharing comes the joy, the sense of fulfillment and happiness that no money can buy.
This Sunday‟s gospel is about the rich man and Lazarus, a beggar. When the rich man died he was condemned to suffer while Lazarus was granted eternal bliss. Why was the rich man punished? Was it for being rich and for wearing expensive clothes? Was it for dining sumptuously everyday? I do not think so. I think the rich man was punished because he was totally indifferent to the sufferings of Lazarus.
He cannot feign ignorance of Lazarus‟ situation. The poor man was right there at his door lying all day begging for food. It was impossible for him to miss Lazarus. He cannot also claim that he had no means to help. He was rich and he had plenty of food. Alas, he was so greedy and selfish that he couldn‟t even give Lazarus a scrap of food from his rich table.
Our Lord Jesus on many occasions warned us about greed. Greed makes us selfish. Greed makes us intensely desire for more material wealth. Greed makes us feel that what we have is never enough. Greed makes us indifferent to the needs of other people. Let us pray to our Lord to guard us against any form of greed.
Let us ask Him to make us responsible and prudent stewards—always mindful that God is the source of all our blessings and that we have the obligation to give back to God whatever surplus we have, be it time, talent or treasure. Now for some parish updates: I thank God for giving us a few days of sunshine. We were able to make significant progress in the painting of the church. My gratitude to all those who donated to this project. God bless you always.
Our next project is to replace some of the old air-conditioning units in the church. Last year we were able to replace two units. I plan to replace two more before the end of this year and another two units on the first quarter of next year. Each unit, including installation, costs around $15,000.00. We do not have a budget for this so I will once again appeal to you for financial help. May God bless you always for your goodness and generosity.
Prayers and Blessings,
SEPTEMBER 22, 2019
My Dear Parishioners,
Last Sunday‟s weather was just terrible. With heavy rains and intermittent gusts of wind, it was a perfect opportunity to stay home and miss Mass. “God will understand,” you could have said to ease your guilt and console yourself.
Yet many of you showed up for Mass. You braved the rain because you simply had to attend Mass. Your Sunday will never be complete without it. So rain or shine, fair or inclement weather, you have to show up. Only COR2 will keep you home, that is because we have to close the church on such weather condition. Otherwise, you will insist on coming to church. Why? Because the Eucharist has now become part of your life. Why? Because now you have realized that you long for Jesus more than before. Why? Because now you have realized that your life is incomplete without Jesus and the Sunday Eucharist.
These are signs of a growing relationship with God. These are sure indicators of a growing sense of Christian Stewardship. Having realized that everything we have are God‟s gifts to us, we now give back to God the fruits of our labor, acknowledging the truth that without God‟s munificence and guidance, we would have labored in vain. Unlike the dishonest steward in this Sunday‟s gospel who enriched himself through cheating, we should use our God-given talents in an honest and just way. This way we enrich ourselves of heavenly things.
This sense of stewardship creates and nurtures in us the spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving, and of loving service to God and others. It also inspires us to find ways and means on how to reciprocate God for the many good things He has abundantly given us. As stewards we are now aware that the least we can do to show our gratitude to God is to celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday. Yes, we know that there are more to Christian stewardship than simply coming to Sunday Mass. But how can we do more if we cannot even do the least?
Unfortunately, just as most did their best to come to church last Sunday, quite a number failed to attend Mass. Proof of this were the empty pews at the usually well-attended Masses, and the significant drop in the collection. Without sounding judgmental, I deem it my duty as your pastor to continually encourage you that in every thing and at every time we should give importance to our religious and spiritual obligations.
Let us avoid following the path of least resistance. Doing so will not help us grow in our Christian life. Keep in mind these words of our Lord Jesus, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
As I write this I also pray for a better weather this weekend so that we can all come together as one family to celebrate in thanksgiving God‟s goodness, mercy and love. Pray also with me that God will grant us enough dry days ahead so that we can finally finish painting the church. Thank you and God bless you.
Prayers and Blessings,
SEPTEMBER 15, 2019
My Dear Parishioners,
As a priest, I share in the mission of our Lord Jesus to search for the lost sheep. I am ever mindful of the words of our Lord, “I came not to call the righteous, but the sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32) As a priest, my sacred duty is not only to take care of the sheep inside the sheepfold, but to go out and search for the lost and stray.
This Sunday‟s gospel tells us “there is great rejoicing in heaven when a sinner repents.” The parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son (in the longer version of the Gospel) give the same message: God loves us all, even the worst sinner. And God has no other wish but for sinners to return to Him. And when the sinner does return to God, great rejoicing happens in heaven.
This I believe is true because I experienced the same thing here on earth. For example, there was that deep joy and consolation I felt when I gave absolution to that penitent who has finally decided to return to the Lord after having lived a sinful life for so long. Or the happiness that overwhelmed me when this couple finally decided to receive the Sacrament of Matrimony after living together as husband and wife for 20 years. Or the excitement I couldn‟t contain one Sunday when I saw at Mass a parishioner who two years ago had stopped coming to church.
I can recall many other instances when I experienced that deep feeling of joy because “someone who was lost was found.” Whether I was instrumental in their return to the Church, to the Sacraments, and to God, I do not know. What I know and what is important is that they are back. Although I would surely feel a sense of fulfillment to know that as a priest I was able to bring people closer to God.
But this mission “to seek for the lost sheep” and to bring people back to God is not limited to us priests. This is a mission given to us all. Through Baptism, we all became disciples of Jesus. And as disciples, it is our calling to make disciples of others.
Come to think of it, have you ever brought someone back to God? Have you ever helped someone get closer to Jesus? Have you tried inviting your friend or your neighbor to come to church and attend Mass? This is my personal opinion and belief. If you can save someone‟s soul, you already saved your own.
God bless you. Our Blessed Mother and Santa Barbara protect you. Have a blessed and peaceful week ahead.
Prayers and Blessings,
SEPTEMBER 8, 2019
My Dear Parishioners,
Firstly, I would like to thank those who responded to my invitation to join the different parish ministries. It is not easy to be a disciple; it is not easy to serve others; it is not easy to practice Christian Stewardship. In the Gospel this Sunday, our Lord Jesus warns those who were willing to follow Him: “You must be ready to “hate” your family, to carry the cross and to renounce material possessions.” That is why I appreciate your willingness to serve in the ministries. God bless you. I pray that more parishioners will respond to this call to serve.
Today, September 8, we celebrate the birthday of our Blessed Virgin Mary. The Blessed Mother‟s childhood and early life are not recorded in the Bible. Whatever accounts we have we got from the Protoevangelium of James. Although not considered authoritative as the Bible, this account had been the source of the traditional beliefs of the early Christian church on the birth and childhood of our Blessed Mother.
According to this account, Anna and Joachim, the parents of our Blessed Mother, were infertile. They had been praying for a child, confident that just as God gave Abraham and Sarah a son, Isaac, they too will be accorded the same favor. God did not disappoint the couple. Because of their deep faith and devotion, Joachim and Anna were given the promise of a child who will advance God‟s plan of salvation for the world.
Back then nobody had any idea how God will save mankind. That God will send His son to the world to become human like us was never considered. It was such an impossible, incredible and absurd idea back then. To the Jews, it is blasphemous to even think about it.
So when Mary was born, the plan of God to send His Son to become human like us was set into motion. The mystery of the Incarnation began to unfold with Mary‟s birth. That is how closely connected the birth of the Blessed Mother to Jesus‟ saving work.
That is why St. Augustine tells us to rejoice and be glad on this day we celebrate the birthday of our Blessed Mother. He says, “She is the flower of the field from whom bloomed the precious lily of the valley. Through her birth the nature inherited from our first parents is changed.” St. Augustine continues, “Every birth of a child brings a new hope. This is all true in a magnificent way in Mary. If Jesus is the perfect expression of God‟s love, Mary is the foreshadowing of that love. If Jesus had brought the fullness of salvation, Mary is its dawning.”
Let us then rejoice on this birthday of our Blessed Virgin Mary. Let us give thanks to God for giving us Mary and, through her, His Son Jesus. To our Blessed Mother we say: Happy Birthday! Our gift to you is a life of loving service to God and His people. Please pray for us always.
Prayer and Blessing,
SEPTEMBER 1, 2019
My Dear Parishioners,
A friend of mine, whenever we talk about humility, would jokingly say, “Yes, I am humble, and I am proud of it.” And I would retort, “I am also humble enough to admit that I am humble.”
Seriously, humility is one virtue our Lord Jesus wants us to have. We hear his words in this Sunday‟s gospel: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Jesus knows that humility is essential to Christian discipleship and stewardship. Genuine Christian service is impossible without humility.
What is humility? First of all, humility is not low self-esteem, nor is it a feeling of inferiority, timidity or self-degradation. Rather, humility is an honest appre-ciation of oneself before the eyes of God. Humility means acknowledging one‟s difficulties, shortcomings, and limits. Humility means being true to oneself, accepting one‟s imperfections. Humility isn‟t about putting oneself down, be-cause that is false humility.
There is a tendency for us to misunderstand true humility. Fr. Dwight Longe-necker has this to say and I quote: “It is easy to misunderstand what humility really is. Being submissive and oppressed by another person is not humility. Being falsely pious and lowly is not humility. Being overly scrupulous in reli-gion is not humility and neither is service to the poor necessarily a sign of hu-mility. Humility is an elusive virtue because if you think you have it you proba-bly don‟t. Humility is something that can be experienced even if it cannot be explained.”
Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta considers humility as the mother of all virtues and is the foundation of a holy life. One cannot obtain holiness without humili-ty. A holy person is first and foremost a humble person.
Let me share with you St. Mother Teresa‟s list of ways to cultivate humility:
Speak as little as possible about yourself.
Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.
Avoid curiosity (she is referring to wanting to know things that should not concern you.)
Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
Accept small irritations with good humor.
Do not dwell on the faults of others.
Accept censures even if unmerited.
Give in to the will of others.
Accept insults and injuries.
Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.
Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
Do not seek to be admired and loved.
Do not protect yourself behind your own dignity.
Give in, in discussions, even when you are right.
Choose always the more difficult task.
Humility is grace from God. It is a gift that we always have to pray for. Let us pray for each other that we may continue to grow in humility and in loving ser-vice to God and each other.
My Prayer and Blessings,
AUGUST 25, 2019
My Dear Parishioners,
One challenge I constantly face as a pastor is how to deal with parishioners who have the “entitlement men-tality.” Entitlement, according to Merriam Webster Dictionary, is the “belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges.” An entitled Catholic feels that the Church exists to dole out perks and bene-fits to its members. An entitled Catholic believes that the Church exists for the members rather than the members serving sacrificially for the Church.
Many Catholics feel that simply because they were baptized Catholics, they are already entitled to all the privileges and benefits the Church accords to its mem-bers. This is the reason why some would insist to be sponsors in baptism even though they do not meet the basic requirements for godparents. Others would ask for special treatment, demanding that their needs be accommodated because they have donated much to the parish.
This sense of entitlement brings negative consequences to our parish. Church members how possess this entitlement mentality get angry when they do not get their way. It thus leads to conflict and even petty fights. This sense of entitle-ment also breeds jealousy and envy. Good fortune and blessings received by other parish members are met with contempt and resentment. This entitlement mentality also leads them to believe God owes them something, especially when they have done something good. Worse, entitled members withdraw their service and support to the parish if they do not get what they think they de-serve. And worst, in times of success entitled members will take all the credit, but in failures they will pass the blame.
This entitlement mentality is unhealthy and unchristian. We have to eliminate this because it stunts our own spiritual growth and the growth of our parish life. We have a beautiful vision for our parish. We want to be a faith-filled and life-giving Christian community. We want to serve as a beacon to all as we journey towards God‟s kingdom. As a parish, we have given ourselves a mission. We have committed ourselves to a life of meaningful worship, genuine fellowship, selfless service, loving relationship with Jesus and sharing His Good News to others. We do not want this entitlement mentality to lay to waste whatever gain we have achieved so far.
So, how do we overcome our feeling of self-entitlement? Through the practice of Christian Stewardship. A good Christian steward gives and serves without expecting anything in return. A good Christian steward is aware that God owes us nothing. He knows that God gives because He wants to not because He has to. A good Christian steward is grateful to God for the gifts of time, talent and treasure. A good Christian steward takes good care of these gifts, makes them grow in abundance, and returns them to God through selfless service.
Let us make our parish grow. Let us get rid of this destructive self-entitlement mentality. Let us pray to God for humility, strength and guidance so that we may overcome our sense of entitlement and become genuine servant-stewards of God and His Church.
Prayer and Blessings,
AUGUST 18, 2019
My Dear Parishioners,
In my message last July 7, I strongly encouraged you to ac-tively involve yourself in a parish ministry. I also promised to give you a list of parish ministries from which you can choose the ministry that is best suited for you. Below is the list. Please take time to read it. Pray to the Holy Spirit to help you choose the right ministry for you. Once you have made your choice, please let me know or any of the office staff.
1. Prayer Ministry—Prayer is a very important part of the life a Christian. In prayer we develop a deeper relationship with God, gain strength to get through the ups and downs of our day to day lives, and support our brothers and sister in our faith community. Our prayer ministry has three sub-ministries:
A—Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament—This ministry requires spending time with Jesus in silent prayer and adoration in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Time commitment is one hour per day or per week.
B—Prayer Circle—This ministry involves praying for the needs of the parish-ioners and of the whole parish community. Parishioners may request prayers and those prayers are then sent to members of the Prayer Circle, via email or telephone, who will pray for that intention. Time commitment varies depending on the number of prayer requests and the time one wishes to spend in prayer. This a wonderful ministry oppor-tunity for all parishioners no matter what age and for anyone who requires something with less physical activity.
C. Tetcha Ministry—This ministry offers comfort and help to the bereaved families by leading the praying of the funerary rosary for the deceased members of our community. Time commitment varies, depending on the schedule of the funerary ro-saries.
2. Church Maintenance Ministry—This ministry is responsible for the mainte-nance and upkeep of the church building and other parish facilities including the recto-ry. Those who know carpentry, electrical work, plumbing, painting, etc. are perfect for this ministry. The time commitment varies depending on current needs and projects.
3. Garden Ministry—This ministry is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the church grounds and gardens. Adults, families or teens may volunteer for this important ministry. People who enjoy gardening, planting, pruning and getting their hands dirty would be well suited for this ministry. The time commitment is an hour or two twice a month.
4. Hospitality Ministry—Our Hospitality Ministry creates a welcoming environ-ment at Mass and handles certain tasks that must be completed. Hospitality Minis-ters help to make Mass a more reverent and prayerful experience. This ministry is open to parishioners in junior high through adulthood. Families are encouraged to serve together. These volunteers greet people before Mass, help them find seating, supervise the offertory collection, facilitate the smooth and orderly flow of Holy Communion, and distributed the Umatuna, the parish bulletin, etc.
5. Art and Environment Ministry—The Art and Environment Ministry is responsi-ble for creating a prayerful and inspirational environment inside the church with floral arrangements and other appropriate ornamentations during the different litur-gical seasons of the Church. This ministry helps to foster and create a physical en-vironment of beauty and reverence that enhances liturgical worship. Time commit-ment is seasonal.
My prayers and God’s blessing,
AUGUST 11, 2019
My Dear Parishioners,
We come to Jesus out of our neediness. We are no dif-ferent from those people in the gospels. They came to Jesus because He was a brilliant teacher and they love listening to Him. They came to Jesus because His words provoke them and His teachings challenge them. They came to Jesus for healing and strength. Some came to Jesus for the free food or out of simple curiosi-ty. Others come out of selfish interests. Even His ene-mies came to Jesus to find fault which they can accuse Him of in order to get rid of Him.
Jesus did not turn away any of these people who came to Him with their needs, even those with selfish needs. Instead, He used these opportunities to draw them closer to Him. Jesus invited them to establish a more personal and inti-mate relationship with Him. Jesus made sure those people who encountered Him would end up spiritually satiated.
Assured that the Lord will never reject us, we come before Him with all our needs, but this time let us allow Jesus to draw us much closer to Him, to heal us, to transform us, and to make us His grateful disciples willing to give back to God by serving Him and our neighbors.
We have been coming to Jesus with our needs. We have encountered Him many times through our prayers and the celebration of the Sacraments especial-ly the Eucharist. Have we grown closer to Jesus? Are we now more in love with Him? Are we now better Christians?
This Sunday‟s Gospel teaches us that our life‟s priorities determine the status of our relationship with Jesus. The things we value most, the things we consider important in life, the things we relentlessly pursue—these things reveal the kind of person we are and the quality of our Christian life.
We are in constant search for that “thing” that will satisfy our longing, fill our emptiness and brings us lasting happiness. This modern society leads us to the wrong belief that wealth and materials possessions is the answer to that craving and loneliness. But St. Augustine wrote, “God made our hearts in such a way that it will always be restless until it rests in God.” This is what we should search for, this “inexhaustible treasure in heaven” that Jesus mentioned in the Gospel this Sunday. This is “the treasure that no thief can take from us nor moth can destroy.”
Who can possess this treasure? The Gospel tells us it is to the “prudent stew-ard” that the Father is pleased to give it. A prudent steward is one who is al-ways vigilant for his Master‟s return, and while waiting, does his duties respon-sibly by serving his fellow servants.
We are all called to be this kind of stewards. Let us always remember, it is what we do, not what we have, that makes us true disciples of God. Let us ask God to make us true servants—disciples of Jesus. God bless you.
Prayers and Blessings,
AUGUST 4, 2019
My Dear Parishioners,
The Bible has sufficient warnings about giving in to greed and longing for riches. In fact, our Lord Jesus talked about the sin of greed more than any other sin.
In this Sunday‟s Gospel, Jesus says, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one‟s life does not consists of posses-sions.” (Luke 12:15)
Jesus warns us about the danger of greed because He knows that it will destroy us; Jesus knows it will hurt us and make our lives miserable. Jesus knows greed will make us self-ish, envious, and indifferent to other people‟s needs. Jesus knows greed will make us sinful people.
What is greed? Greed is the disordered or inordinate desire to have more of something, especially money and power. Greed is the mistaken notion that the more we have of something, the happier and more fulfilled we will become.
Money and material goods are not evil, per se. They are considered neutral or amoral, neither good or evil. The Bible says it is the love of money that is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10) It is greed that causes us to sin.
Can money make us happier? Yes, if we live in abject poverty—and we need to buy basic needs such as clothing, food and shelter—having money can make us happier. However, once we have enough money to provide for the basic needs, any increase in money does not necessarily mean increase in happiness. In oth-er words, once a person has the basic necessities, more money does not neces-sarily lead to more happiness.
The temptation to be greedy is so strong and persistent yet at the same time so subtle that people fall into it without even realizing it. Every time we say, “If only I can have more of this, then I will be happy,” we are already falling into the temptation of greed. Every time we compare ourselves to those who are a little richer than us and we say, “If only I can have one more care or a much bigger house,” we are already being greedy. Every time we say, “I do not have enough money to give to the poor or to donate to the Church,” we are already being greedy. Every time we refuse to get rid of the things we have but do not really need, we are already greedy.
How then do we fight and overcome greed? One way is by being a good Chris-tian steward. First, we acknowledge God as the source of everything we have, and the provider of everything we need. Second, we take care of the gifts— time, talents and treasure—that God has given and use them for the welfare of others and the Church. Finally, we give and we share.
There is more to life than just having more possessions. It is in giving that we find happiness and fulfillment. Let us pray to God to give us the strength and the courage to say no to our greed and selfishness. God bless you.
Prayers and Blessings,
JULY 28, 2019
My Dear Parishioners,
The first prayer I learned when I was a child was the Lord‟s Prayer. I learned to pray it first in my local tongue—the Bikol language. When I entered the seminary in high school, I learned more prayers, rote and devotional prayers, including novenas and rosaries. It was in college seminary that I was introduced to other forms of prayer like meditation, reflection and scriptural prayers. It was at this time that I have realized that praying was not easy. It takes discipline and patience to pray regularly, especially when you feel that your prayers are not being answered. The temptation to give up and stop praying is always there. Our Lord Jesus is cognizant of this. That is why after teaching his disciples to pray, he immediately told them a parable to show the importance of persistence when praying. In the story, the friend who was at first unwilling to get out of bed and give his friend a bread, eventually did so because of his friend‟s persistence. Lest we get it wrong, the story does not tell us that if we really want something from God, all we have to do is keep on asking and eventually God will give in. No, that is not the lesson that Jesus wants us to learn when He tells us to be persistent in our prayers. In the story the friend who is selfish does not represent God. In fact, he is the contrast of God. The point of the story is this: if a selfish person will eventually give us what we ask for if we are persistent in our asking, how much more our heavenly Father who is so good and generous? Now the question is: if God was so good and generous, and if He already knew what we need even before we ask Him, why do we still have to pray and ask repeatedly? Why can‟t He not just give us all that we need even without our asking? God knows what we need and He will give us what is best for us. The reason why Jesus wants us to pray, and to pray constantly, is that he wants us to have an intimate and personal relationship with his Father. He wants us to call God our Abba, our Father. And the only way we can achieve this kind of relationship with God is through persistent and personal prayer. Persistent and personal prayer leads to a more loving and trusting relationship with God. And once we have developed that kind of relationship, we will surely keep on praying whether our prayers are answered or not. It no longer matters whether we get or not what we are praying for. What matters now is we are with God, loving Him, trusting Him and serving Him. But another question has to be asked: God said, “ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you,” why is it that until now God is not answering my prayer despite my constant and persistent asking? There are several reasons why God does not always give us what we ask for. Firstly, we ask with the wrong motive. St. James in his letter (4:3) said, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Secondly, it is not yet the right time. Even if what we are praying for is best for us or for others but the time is not yet proper for it, God will delay his response. Lastly, God does not give us what we pray for because He has something better in store for us. Whatever the case may be, do not give up; pray and pray unceasingly, persistently, and trustfully. God bless you.
With my prayers and blessings,
JULY 21, 2019
My Dear Parishioners,
I was in Tampa, Florida last week to attend the 25th priestly ordination anniversary of a priest-friend of mine. At first I was not planning to go because Tampa is just too far from Guam. Long flights are no longer as exciting for me as they used to be when I was younger. But Fr. Erwin, the honoree, insisted that I come, so I went. And I am glad I did. Because the occasion made me meet old friends and make new ones—priests and lay people alike. But more importantly, the occasion made me reflect again on the wonderful gift of the priesthood that God has given me 34 years ago. Though unworthy of the gift, God has chosen me nonetheless. And for that I am eternally grateful to God. This gift of the priesthood, like any other gifts I have received from God, is not really for me. Yes, it is a gift given to me but no, it’s not for me. The priesthood is a gift for the people and for the Church. I am merely God’s steward of this gift. Using the priesthood in the service of God’s people is my way of showing my gratitude to God. God has given all of us beautiful gifts. We need to take care of these gifts, make them grow, and use them for the benefit of others and for God’s glory. What are the gifts God has given you? How do you use these gifts? What particular gift— talent, time, treasure—are you giving back to God in gratitude? All of us want to be disciples=servants of Jesus. But we cannot be one unless we first acknowledge that everything we have is God’s gift to us. We are mere stewards of God’s goodness. Thus, gratitude is an essential element in Stewardship and Discipleship. Unfortunately, not too many people are aware of this. The other day I was watching on TV the ESPY award in which recognition and accolades are given to people who excel in their chosen field of sports. After receiving the trophy, every awardee gives a short “thank-you” speech thanking family, coach, teammates, wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, etc. Yes, they thank everyone except God who is the source of their great talents and achievements. Disappointed, I was about to change channel when a man in a wheelchair is called to the stage to receive a certain award. The man’s name is Rob Mendez. He is being recognized for his perseverance in achieving his dream of becoming a football coach in spite of his enormous physical limitations. You know, Rob Mendez was born without arms and legs. But despite that, he persevered and did not give up. I cannot but admire him and be inspired by him. But what surprised me most was during his speech, after thanking his family, his friends and his football team, Rob said, “But most of all I thank Jesus, my Lord and Savior.” It was so beautiful and inspiring to hear him praise and thank God. This man, who has every reason to feel bitter and blame God for his physical deformity, was instead filled with gratitude. What can we say about those who were truly gifted but are never grateful? Let us pray that we will always be grateful to God. All praise and thanksgiving to Christ our Lord now and forever. Amen. Have a blessed and happy week.
Prayers and Blessings,
July 14, 2019
My Dear Parishioners,
Have you ever asked yourself these questions: How can I get rich quickly? How can I make all people like me? How can I remain young and healthy?
At one point in your life I am sure you have asked these questions. And we have found the answers. We have learned that there is no easy way to get rich quickly or easily. Yes, there were those who became instant millionaires through inheritance or by winning the lotto or by stealing other people‟s money but otherwise we have to work diligently long and patiently hard to get rich.
We have also learned and came to accept the fact that we cannot please everyone. There will always be people who will dislike us no matter how much we try to be likable. We have now come to believe in the adage “if we try to please every one, we end up pleasing no one.”
By now we also have gained enough wisdom to know that there is no way we can stay forever young and healthy. There is no such thing as the fountain of youth or a panacea for all our ills and troubles. Thus, we have stopped asking those questions knowing it would be an exercise in futility. Instead we have learned to trust God and live life as it comes. We try not to worry or get anxious needlessly.
But there is one question I want you to ask and to seek the answer. This is the same question the scholar of the law asked our Lord in this Sunday‟s Gospel: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus‟ answer was simple: “Follow the great commandments—Love God, love your neighbor.” In the Christian parlance, love is synonymous with service. As Christians, we cannot profess love without serving. Love is not love unless it is expressed in service to God and others.
This is a mark of Discipleship—Love and Service. To be a disciple is to willingly commit oneself to God and offer everything in service without counting the cost. But before one can truly become a disciple, one needs to be first a steward. Stewardship is acknowledging that God is the source of all the gifts and blessings we have. Stewardship is taking good care of God‟s gifts of time, talent and treasure. Stewardship is using these gifts in loving service to God and others. Stewardship is giving back to God.
So again we ask, how do we get to heaven? By loving God with all our heart, mind and soul, and loving our neighbors as well. And how do we effectively do this? By becoming Christian stewards and disciples.
There is another question I would like you to ask yourself: How can I serve my Santa Barbara parish? How can I be of service to my Church? I ask you to pray that God will help you find the answer. In the meantime, I will keep you in my prayers, as I always do.
Prayers and Blessings, Fr. Dan