Gathering the Sheep
May 12, 2019
My Dear Parishioners,
To all the mothers reading this, Happy Mother’s Day! On this special day we pray for you:
“All-loving God, we give you thanks and praise for mothers young and old. We pray for young mothers, who give life and tend to our every need; May they be blessed with patience and tenderness to care for their families and themselves with great joy.
We pray for our own mothers who have nurtured and cared for us; May they continue to guide us in strong and gentle ways.
We remember mothers who are separated from their children because of war, poverty, or conflict; May they feel the loving embrace of our God who wipes every tear away.
We pray for women who are not mothers but still love and shape us with motherly care and compassion.
We remember mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers who are no longer with us but who live forever in our memory and nourish us with their love. Amen.”
In this Sunday’s gospel, our Lord Jesus compares Himself to a good shepherd who leads His sheep to green pasture and fresh water; a shepherd who is willing to sacrifice everything, including his life, for the sheep.
A mother brings forth life; she nourishes it and sustains it. A mother protects life and is willing to sacrifice everything for it. In this sense, a mother is like a shepherdess, a good shepherdess. And so to all mothers, including my Mama who is now 85 years old, let me express my deep gratitude for all the love and sacrifices you have shown us, your children. You may not be the perfect mother you wanted to be—although God knows how much you tried—but for us your children, you will always be the best one. I am sure God will bless and reward you abundantly.
Thus, I am entrusting you, dear mothers, to the maternal care and protection of the greatest mother of all—the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of God and of us all:
“Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, pray for all mothers, so that they will be able to fulfill their maternal responsibilities. Help them to be lovers and nurturers of all human life from the moment of conception until natural death, all the while being examples for their own children. Pray for us their children, so that we, too, will be faithful followers of Your Son.
On this Mothers day, Mother of the Word Incarnate, pray for us who have recourse to you...Amen.”
Prayer and blessings,
NOTIFICATION: I will be on vacation from May 13 to May 27.
May 5, 2019
My Dear Parishioners,
A beautiful and solemn rite we did last Easter Sunday (and Vigil) was the renewal of baptismal promises. Instead of reciting the Creed, which is the norm in every Sunday Eucharist, we renewed the promises we made—or by our parents and godparents in our behalf— when we were baptized.
The rite of renewal went this way: The priest asked us, not once but thrice, if we renounce Satan, his evil ways, and his temptations. We replied I DO to each question. Three times also we were asked if we believe in the Catholic faith; and thrice we replied I DO. Then the priest sprinkled us with the newly blessed water, reminding us of the water of baptism that cleanses us of our sin and brought us salvation.
You may have wondered why we were asked to renounce Satan three times and to profess our Faith three times. Does the number three have a significant meaning in our religion? Well, some biblical scholars say that three is a symbol of completion: the beginning, the middle, and the end. For us Christians, the number three takes a significant and deeper meaning. Here are some examples: God is one but has three Divine persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit; Jesus was in the tomb for three days; Jonah was in the belly of the whale for the same amount of time; Jesus was tempted by Satan three times; Jesus’ ministry lasted three years; Peter denied Him three times; Jesus died at three o’clock in the afternoon, etc.
The quantity of three is also used to highlight something or to emphasize the importance of a thing. In this Sunday’s gospel our Lord Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” “Yes, Lord, I love you,” replied Peter. Jesus asked him the same question three times. Peter felt sad that Jesus had to ask him the third time. But scholars say that Jesus was just giving Peter the chance to redeem himself from that unfortunate episode in his relationship with Jesus so that he can be better prepared to take the role and responsibility that Jesus was about to give him. Peter will lead the Church that our Lord Jesus will found.
The baptismal promise plays an essential part in our Christian life. It defines the choice we made—that we want to be children of God. It is a promise we need to constantly renew and remind ourselves of so that we remain God’s children. Thus, we will never get tired repeating, not only three times, but over and over again: “We renounce Satan. We believe in God.” May God bless you always. Have a blessed and happy week.
Prayer and blessings,
april 28, 2019
My dear parishioners,
Easter is a season of joy. Through His death and resurrection Jesus removed our sadness and filled us with everlasting joy. This joy we have now can never be taken away.
Easter is a season of hope. Through His death and resurrection Jesus opened the doors of heaven for us. And it is our certain hope that where he is, there we shall be.
Easter is a season of love. Through His death and resurrection Jesus showed that there is no love greater than God‟s love for us. We are to love one another with that kind of love.
Easter is also a time of gratitude. We thank God for saving us. We thank God for forgiving us. We thank God for giving us reason to be joyful and hopeful again. Easter is a season of mercy. Through His death and resurrection, God‟s merciful and forgiving love flowed out towards mankind. This same kind of mercy and forgiveness must also flow from one‟s heart to those in need of it.
Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. To emphasize the great love and mercy of God, the Church, through then Pope John Paul II (now St. John Paul) decreed on May 5, 2000 the second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday. Following is an excerpt from that decree:
“The Gospel of the Second Sunday of Easter narrates the wonderful things Christ the Lord accomplished on the day of the Resurrection during his first public appearance: „On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, „Peace be with you.‟ When he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad to see the Lord. Jesus said to them again, „Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.‟ And then he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20, 19-23).
On this particular Sunday, a plenary indulgence, which is the remission of all temporal punishments due to sin, is given to all those who go to Confession, receive Holy Communion and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father on this day. Total detachment any sins, even venial ones, is also necessary to gain this kind of indulgence.
Aside from the conditions mentioned above, on Divine Mercy Sunday one is also required to take part in the prayers and devotions held in honour of Divine Mercy, or who, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!”).
May God grant us mercy and forgiveness so that the joy of Easter may ever reign in your hearts.
Prayers and blessing,
APRIL 21, 2019
My dear parishioners,
Happy Easter to all! This is the time we have been preparing for since Ash Wednesday. We sacrificed and made penance, we fasted and ab-stained, we repented and changed, we gave and shared—all these we did so that we can be truly one with Jesus in His passion, and thus share fully in the joy of His resurrection. We wel-comed the sacrifices of Lent assured of the hap-piness that Easter will bring. So let us rejoice and be glad, the joy of Easter is with us.
My dear brothers and sisters, the Easter season is an opportunity for us to continue to grow in our Christian life. In this 50-day Easter season, let us show the world that as Christians we are an Easter people. What are the things that identify us as people of the Resurrection? I can think of three things.
First, Christian life is a life filled with joy. Joy is a heartfelt and profound glad-ness that not even the greatest of trials and sorrow can remove from us. Pope Francis says, “Christ’s Cross embraced with love never leads to sadness, but to joy, to the joy of having been saved and of doing a little of what he did on the day of his death.” From an article published by Loyola Press we also read, “The Passion and Resurrection of Jesus teach us that suffering is transformed through faith in the Risen Christ. With this faith, we are able to hold on to an enduring sense of joy even in the midst of the sadness we experience from the loss of a loved one, a failure to achieve an important goal, or a setback during recovery from an illness.”
Second, our faith in the Resurrection teaches us that we have nothing to fear be-cause God has power over everything, including death. As Christians, therefore, we are a people filled with courage; we never fear as we heed the words of the Risen Christ, “Do not be afraid!” (Mt 28:5, 10) These words assure us that God is in full control; we have no reason to fear.
Third, as Christians we are a renewed people. We are no longer people of dark-ness but children of the Light. Easter renews us and gives us a positive attitude. We see life with new eyes; we face life with newness of life. We are saved, we are renewed.
My dear parishioners, this Easter let us be filled with joy, let us live life without fear and anxiety, and let us be grateful to God for forgiving us and giving us a new life. Just as we used the 40 days of Lent to get rid of sin, vices and bad hab-its, let us use this 50 days to cultivate a life of joy, a life of courage, and a re-newed life.
A joyful, blessed and faith-filled Easter to all.