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) 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Private Tiny

Drill Sergeant PG, as usual, came out early to wake the squad of young penguin recruits in the boot camp.  In less than five minutes, they were all good to go for the cold morning run, swim and catch exercises that would take nearly a day.  They were told that the trainings these days were more grueling than in the past, as the ocean was more polluted and the fishes fewer.

Except for Private Tiny, the rest of the squad had the build and stamina to cope up with the standards of Drill Sergeant. Private Tiny always came out last in the every aspect of the exercises. Even how much the Drill Sergeant pushed him, still the little penguin just couldn’t cope up.

When graduation time came, each of the cadets was given their assignment. All except Private Tiny took the heroic task of hunting for food in the farther parts of the ocean.  He was given the post of lookout, to march to and fro daily at one of the higher elevations near the colony.  It was a thankless job, without much challenge.  But Private Tiny attended to his job enthusiastically and diligently. Tasked to make a daily account of what he observed, Private Tiny made detailed reports to the Chief Scribe.

One day, Private Tiny noticed an unusual movement in the glacier overlooking the colony.  At first, there were snowflakes as the wind became stronger than usual.  This was a snow storm! He immediately ran towards the warning horn and sounded this with all his might.  The sound stunned all the penguins, as they moved in fast cadence to a safe area. And then suddenly, an avalanche of snow totally wiped out the penguin colony.  Not one penguin died, except that Private Tiny was missing.

The penguin community including Drill Sergeant PG and the squad searched for Private Tiny.  They found him buried under the snow, just a few meters from the warning horn. And he was breathing! They carried him to the where everyone had settled and as he regained consciousness he could hear them shout, “Tiny, our hero!”

Saint Benedict the Black was a slave who became a solitary. Though he did not know how to read and write, he became the superior in the hermit community which was disbanded by Pope Pius IV.  He persisted in serving the Church, settling as a Franciscan lay brother and cook of St Mary’s convent near Palermo. He rose through the ranks becoming the superior of the convent, only to be relieved and returned to being the cook.  He attended to his assigned task with fervor and love, while at the same time performed miracles, and was sought as a confessor that brought many to the faith.  Though humble was his work as a cook, he became God’s instrument to be believers and unbelievers.

There is no thankless job. Everyone has an assigned role in the world, and we are meant to do our job well out of love. How therefore should you approach your job? “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people…The Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Wednesday, 15 October 2014


The sheep farm was safe from wolves.  Farmer relied much on Gwardia, the guard dog, who had proven time and again of his courage against the predators that preyed on the sheep.  At times, Gwardia would bark aloud to awaken Farmer who’d bring his shotgun to scare the wolves.  But there was one time that Farmer was too tired that he failed to wake up; leaving Gwardia to fight off two wolves.  The guard dog suffered deep wounds, but was able to recover and return to his duty.  

One particular night, a she wolf lured Gwardia away from his post, while the rest of the pack killed several sheep.  Gwardia was then attacked by the wolves and would have died, had he not crawled towards a hole enough for him to hide.  For days, he took refuge in the hole. Though hungry and weak, he did have not courage enough to return to Farmer, ashamed of his failure.  

Little did Gwardia know; that Farmer was searching for him.   It was the fourth day that Gwardia could hear the voice of Farmer growing nearer and nearer.  Gwardia wanted to stay hidden, and just die in the hole; yet he could feel Farmer’s voice of worry and care.  Gwardia forced a deep howl of repentance that caught the attention of Farmer who pulled him out. Farmer then carried Gwardia tenderly back to the house.

The parable of the lost sheep and that of the prodigal son come to mind.  The shepherd left the ninety-nine in open country to look for one lost sheep. And even if his son squandered all that he had given him, the father was overjoyed when his prodigal son returned home.

For as long as one repents and turns a new leaf in life, God will embrace the individual in His loving arms.  Mary Magdalene was a sinner; yet she turned her back on her life of prostitution to follow the ways of Jesus, and as such, is revered as a saint.  According to one author, “there are over thirty saints who were very ungodly before they changed and after some time achieved saintly characters.” Among those are St Paul, St Olga, St Mary the Egyptian and St Camillus de Lellis.

How many times have we failed to follow God’s commands? We hide in our shame. There are others who take their own lives unable to cope with the burden they carry.  But we are never held captive by sin and Satan.  We can call upon God.  He is just a whisper away. “God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.” (Psalm 53:2)

Monday, 6 October 2014

Supreme Moa

The land later called Aotearoa was uninhabited except for birds. The vegetation was lush and bountiful. The eagle was the king of the skies.

Yet there were flightless birds whose wings were not strong enough to take them off the ground.  The moa was supreme in the ground.  The mature ones reached 12 feet in height and weighed 510 pounds. With its beak like a pair of secateurs, it could easily clip leaves and twigs for food. And when provoked, these beaks proved fatal to others.

No bird would want to ever encounter a moa. More so by the almost blind kiwi birds that could see about six feet at night and around two feet during the day.  

An elder kiwi bird told others of how he had seen the might of the moa when a fight ensued between the giant bird and an eagle. He was so near that he was almost hit by the giant feet of the moa.  The eagle attacked the moa, but the latter was able to bite the former’s face, knocking it to the ground. The eagle died as the huge claws of the moa flattened its body to the ground. The story spread among the kiwi birds that then feared moas.  Most decided to hide underground and settled for worms as food.

Then the Maori people came and settled in the land.  The huge birds became fair game. With their slow speed in running and their having difficulty hiding their huge bodies, the giant birds were killed for their meat. The kiwi birds remained in hiding, safe from humans. When they were discovered, people had other sources of food, and the kiwi birds were deemed unattractive for cooking.

Today, the kiwi bird is protected, while the moa has long been extinct.

The world has seen the rise of mighty empires, yet not any of them survived.  Either they were conquered or succumbed to internal strife. Then there are communities that remain intact for centuries, untouched by civilization, living in harmony with nature.

Many people in these modern times seek fame and fortune, yet they fall hard in sin and shame; while there are those who commit to living in poverty and prayer, and are rewarded by the Living God with eternal bliss.

“Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last." (Luke 13:30)