Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Rekindling the Romance

Every now and then, I am assigned to court take (or manage the courtroom) during hearings of civil cases.  The saddest episodes are those when family members sue each other over the possessions left by ascendants. Just the other day, there was a couple who must have separated, sitting in the opposite sides of the courtroom, and they never glanced at each other.  Years of togetherness thrown out of the window, and in lieu unfeeling, if not hatred in their hearts.

On a Sunday, just prior to making the final blessing in the Eucharistic celebration, the priest called upon a couple to make an announcement. They said that there was a time in their lives that the love that they professed to each other had nearly become barren due to the busyness in making a living. It was only when they participated in a Marriage Encounter Weekend that they rekindled their romance, having been reminded of their vows and that communication between couples need to be as regular as watering a plant for it to live and flourish. They invited couples to attend.

There is no magic potion to make a marriage work. Husband and wife must develop a lifetime plan to make their relationship flourish, and only when Jesus is made the center of that relationship will marriage last, through good times and bad.  Constant dialogue just like constant prayer deepens the marriage, as the latter enriches the bond with God.  “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”  (Ephesians 4:15)

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Delight in Mercy

On March 22, 2015, Bong Sombrero wrote this message in his Facebook timeline:

“Maybe most of u are wondering what's happening with my health at the moment. After all the series of test; X-rays, ct Scan, ct PET, MRI scan, blood test ,gastroscopy, conducted mid-January 2015 to 13th of March, and in and out in the hospital due to bleeding, chest and back pains. The doctors and oncologist informed us that the cause of the pain is that the cancer has aggressively spread to the liver, lymph nodes in my back and the mother tumour is growing. Due to this, the doctors estimated that i might only have 4 to 6 weeks to live. Currently i'm in pain (managing pain) and the option is chemo treatment or supportive care, chemo treatment not for curing but prolonging my life but there’s no guarantee that nothing wrong will happen during the treatment).Currently the dosage of my pain reliever has been doubled............what's holding me now is my faith to God and i believe in his kindness, goodness, healing in his time. I surrender everything to him and allowing him to use me. I still believe in miracles.....Please continue to pray for my family especially my wife Cong to be strong, and give her more strength to accept and face whatever trials may come.....”

We are at God’s mercy. And our God is merciful.  Micah tells us through the question, “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” (Micah 7:18)

Infinite is His mercy that He sent His Beloved Son to die on the cross and save us from sin. Jesus was humiliated and suffered pain to fulfil God’s Promise to humankind.  By dying, Jesus was glorified: resurrecting on the third day and ascending to the Heavenly Kingdom where He sits on the throne at the right hand of the Father in Perpetual Majesty.

“I surrender everything to him and allowing him to use me,” are words uttered by Bong in courage and humility. Let us pray with Bong, knowing that God hears us, and with delight He will show His mercy on our ailing brother in Christ. (Bro Mel B Libre)

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Brush with Death

The celebration would have turned gloomy because of an accident, but God had another plan.

It was the18th birthday of her daughter, so Annie and the entire family threw a special debut party for Ann–Ann.  Everybody helped in turning the venue into a beautiful setting, as food started to arrive for the banquet.  It was going to be a lovely occasion.

Annie was herself busy, as she drove through the motorway bringing stuff needed for the event.    It had been a tiresome day and she had little sleep.   Driving at 100 kph, she suddenly noticed a truck rushing towards her vehicle. She quickly steered towards a direction away from the truck. Her reflex reaction caused her vehicle to swerve and jump over an island towards the opposite highway.

During those ticking seconds, she prayed hard knowing the danger she faced. “Blag!” Her vehicle landed safely on the other side of the fast lane. Surprisingly, there were no cars heading towards her vehicle. Miraculously, she suffered no injuries.  She turned her car around and took the nearest exit.

Upon her arrival, she told us about what had happened then proceeded to attend to the tasks that contributed to a memorable evening with family and friends.  While it was a celebration for her daughter; it was as well a thanksgiving of life for Annie.

All power rests in God and He makes our life plans.  As the vehicle flew to the opposite side of the motorway, Annie called upon the Lord, and He revealed His power over all. "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Acts 2:21)

If our lives are Christ-centered; then we are saved, not just from potential accidents, but from the fires of hell.  For truly, I have seen the lives of Annie and her husband, Romy worthy of emulation.

Despite the busyness in pursuing their livelihood, they attend to their assigned hours of perpetual adoration to the consecrated host at Mt St Marys Traditional Catholic Church in Titirangi, Auckland. They take the difficult hours just after midnight meditating and praying in the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Host.  They are among the many who have kept the small church a Holy Ground; where many miracles have happened such as Annie’s brush with death.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Miracle Now

The phone rang in the rectory of Sts. Joachim and Joseph Church in Otahuhu, Auckland, and the parish priest attended to the call. The woman on the other line sounding desperate asked to talk to a priest. The clergy responded that he was a priest and inquired on what the purpose of her call. She responded, “Father, my son has brain tumor and is in pain, and I would like you to pray for his healing.”  He offered to personally pray over the sick, but the mother said that her son was in Sydney. “In that case, can I visit you, so we can pray for him?” asked the priest.  The woman responded, “I am in Sydney as well.”

Surprised, Fr Sylvan remarked, “How did you know of this church, when you could have made your request in one located in Sydney?” “I was told by someone that those who sought prayers through your church have been granted their requests,” she replied.

“I shall pray for your son and hold a mass for him,” the priest assured the woman.

On the following Sunday, Fr Sylvan related the story during one of the masses, and asked the whole congregation to pray for the healing of the woman’s son.

After the mass, I approached him and commented, “Father that was such a beautiful story. Have you heard of miracles that have occurred here in the parish?” He said, “I was totally amazed at the request of the woman, but I haven’t been told of miracles that have happened here.” After a short pause, he continued, “However, I know that a miracle must be happening now.”

People in this age and time are skeptical about miracles. Yet for Christians, the miracles performed by Jesus Christ during His ministry are among the foundations of their faith.  Miracles are among the factors for the elevation of a pious person to becoming a saint.  But media generally do not give much coverage to reported miracles made through the intercession of candidates to sainthood.  We only learn about miracles in Lourdes or Fatima, among others, through oral testimonies or religious literature.

Instead, the word ‘miracle’ is loosely used to incidents where individuals survive extraordinary ordeals, and often with little reference to faith or divine intercession.  Far worst is describing as ‘miraculous’ acts of magicians or entertainers, when these are either products of sly of hands, if not special effects.

It is important for faith believers to stand as witnesses to genuine miracles. Actually the internet is a tool that Christians must embrace to tell of peoples about miracles that happen through divine intercession. Most importantly, they must believe that miracles can occur not just to others, but to themselves and the people they love. Believe in miracles, they will happen.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A Flock of Birds

The flock of bird leaders met to discuss their plan for the avian festival. The dove suggested that a side event could focus on those who’ve lost their wings for whatever reason.  The crow responded negatively, explaining that the side event would diminish attention to the festival. “Those disabled ones will also require additional work with the special care they need. We don’t have enough resources for them,” he added.  Dove responded: “But isn’t it our responsibility as well to bring the beauty of flight to those who can no longer fly?”

The gathering became unwieldy as the members of the flock sided with either of the two speakers.  The chair bird, Eagle, had a hard time containing the loud chirping, as he himself couldn’t decide where to side. “Let’s put this to a vote,” he ordered.  When the votes were counted, dove’s suggestion obtained majority support.  “The side event for lost wings will happen,” announced eagle, “but dove, for making the suggestion, is responsible for this.” 

Dove was happy and sad at the same time. Happy for the unwanted birds; sad of the half-hearted support by their leader.  As he was about to fly back, a number of his colleagues in the leaders’ flock came forward asking how they could help. He wasn’t alone after all. But what moved him the most was the gratitude of hawk who told him that he broke one of his wings once, and how lonely he was in his brokenness. He told dove, “Nobody helped me then, but that is alright. What lifts my heart is that we can do something to the least ones.”

Dr Ludwig Gutmann of the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in UK was much like dove, by doing something to the least ones. He hosted a sport competition (called International Wheelchair Games) on the opening day of the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, for British World War II veteran patients with spinal cord injuries. This continued in 1952 and had taken the name “Stoke Mandeville Games”.  Twelve years from 1948, the first official Paralympic Games happened in Rome during the 1969 Olympic Games. The fifteenth edition of Summer Paralympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016 with 204 nations expected to participate.

Each individual has a place in the world. Each individual has a role to play.  The handicapped have as much right to have fun as those physically-able. The poor are as deserving as the rich to enjoy the gifts in life.

There are those who think they deserve better than others, so they work to accumulate more than they need. As a result, there is imbalance in the distribution of resources and of wealth.

Try we must to be instruments to regaining dignity for the hapless and the helpless on earth. For with God, they have a special place in His heavenly kingdom.

Heed we must to Christ’s teaching:” For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’”  (Matthew 25:35-40)