Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Scout

The cub named ‘Scout’ left the comfort of his shelter, curious of what was outside. Mama Lion was out searching for food, while Papa Lion was taking a nap. There was much to see and soon enough a giant python took notice of him. Afraid that Papa Lion would find out of his evil plan, the snake rolled a red apple in front of the cub. The innocent one played with the bait that was leading towards the snake’s den. A number of animals scampered away afraid of the snake’s wrath. There were others that called out the cub, but as the young lion failed to notice them, they went away as well.

A one-legged rabbit named ‘Wounded’ noticed the danger that faced ‘Scout’. He hopped towards the cub unmindful of his own safety. This angered the snake that he accidentally hit the apple hard that it rolled down in another direction as ‘Scout’ followed it.

A strong paw stopped the apple and when ‘Scout’ looked up, he leaped with joy – it was Mama Lion. Python had cornered ‘Wounded’ who could do nothing but pray. Before the snake could snap at him, the rabbit heard a loud roar that echoed through the forest. Papa Lion was advancing towards the snake that scampered away leaving ‘Wounded’ unharmed. Mama Lion and ‘Scout’ joined Papa Lion in thanking rabbit for his courage and heroism.

Over the weekend, a frantic mother was looking for her teenage son who left home when scolded about having a girlfriend at so young an age.   For 12 hours they searched for the boy, and even had the help of the police. They found him walking in the street, hungry and forlorn.  The entire family was overjoyed with the boy’s safe return.

In a Mass on November 7, 2013, Pope Francis in his homily following the reading on the parables of the lost sheep and coin, said “God is not a good loser, and this is why, in order not to lose, He goes out on his own, and He goes, He searches…He searches for all those who are far away from Him, like the shepherd who goes to search for the lost sheep.”

At times, we get lost, and seem not to find our way back. Be patient. God is sending out a search party to rescue you.

“I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.” (Ezekiel 34:16)

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Father, I Love You

Grandpa Pigeon, who had become frail, had gone out for the day. His usual routine was to fly by the local church and say a prayer; take a short flight to the lake, pick some items to feed the little ones and return home.  It was a beautiful routine.

Grandma Pigeon became worried, as Grandpa Pigeon had not returned as the sun was about to set. A search party led by Elderson Pigeon was formed. The volunteers went to the church. Grandpa Pigeon was not there. They went to the lake, and asked Kingfisher if he noticed Grandpa Pigeon that day, and he said ‘No’.  The group returned to the route, and noticed the resting tree.  They stopped and there found Grandpa Pigeon covered by leaves and without life.  He had taken a final rest from the world.

On August 30, 2014, Eugenio Billones Dinolan, 77 years old, went to St Joseph Catholic Church in Milford as he usually did. He then proceeded to buy some stuff at New World Supermarket and was expected back to the house before noon.  But he didn’t come home. Eugenio died while inside the public toilet near the supermarket.  His wife, children, in-laws, grandchildren, relatives and friends were devastated by his sudden death. Their consolation was the knowledge that he had prayed to God prior to his departure.

The passage of Eugenio reminded me of my father, Angel Libre, Jr. who died of cancer. I thought about him when I wrote, in time for “Father’s Day” in New Zealand, a song entitled “Father I Love You”, whose lyrics read:

When I was a child
You were a giant of a man
You righted our wrongs
You taught us to be
The best in what we do

You worked so hard
To bring food on the table
You partnered with mom
To raise us up
And seek us when we were lost

Chorus:
Father to you I owe
What I am
You never lost faith in me
When I lost faith in myself
My gratitude to you
Father, I love you

The man that I knew
Has turned old, has turned gray
You need not worry
I am here for you
For I now am a father too.


If your father is living, tell him “I love you”.  For those who have lost their righteous fathers, be confident  for God takes good care of them. “The righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart; devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace; they rest in their beds who walk in their uprightness.”   (Isaiah 57:1-2)

Monday, 1 September 2014

Stones, Pebbles and Sand


It rained hard. The river was nearly swelling as water flowed towards the dam. The townspeople were asleep as it was 3 o’clock in the morning. The dam upstream was shaking with the relentless water pressure. It could not take it anymore, as a portion on its right side started to crack. At the mountain sat a giant rock still and without life. Just as the dam’s concrete surrendered to the onslaught of water, the Master awakened the rock that followed His command to protect the community. It rushed down instantaneously and dived into the water, thereby covering the fallen portion of the dam. But the water continued to penetrate in the uneven form of the rock.

The rock then shouted, “Stones, pebbles and sand, I cannot do this by myself. I need your help!”  The nearby stones, pebbles and sand came to life, and they sealed the areas where the water penetrated. The water was contained and eventually calmed down.  When morning came, the townsfolk saw a giant rock covering a huge hole in the dam. They thanked the Lord for placing ‘St Peter’s Rock’ that saved them from certain death.

The apostle Simon Peter was not a perfect man. He had a lot of shortcomings, yet he was chosen by Jesus to continue His ministry.  “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18) Like the rock that was flawed, St Peter (and his successors) could not alone pursue God’s mission without the help of other disciples and believers.

Many of us are the “stones, pebbles and sand” that are called upon to complete God’s plan on earth. We may not be as prominent as the Pope, but we are important to the Church.  Pope Francis acknowledged this at the very start of papacy when he said, “And now I would like to give the blessing, but first – first I ask a favour of you: before the Bishop blesses his people, I ask you to pray to the Lord that he will bless me: the prayer of the people asking the blessing for their Bishop. Let us make, in silence, this prayer: your prayer over me.”

Do not belittle yourself; you are precious to God.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Soup

There was drought in the land, and the tribe had little harvest and sparse water.  One day, a man with a cart visited the tribe. The visitor said that he’d come to make soup for everyone. He asked the chief to produce the biggest pot and to make a fire in the middle of the village. He filled the pot with the barrel of water on his cart, and started to cut a cabbage that he placed into the pot. The people inquired, “Just one cabbage?”

The man asked the villagers, if they had a spare salt, spare spices, spare vegetables and spare meat or fish. Everyone said, “Yes” and they hurriedly went to their homes and returned with what little each had. All these were placed into the pot.  That day the tribe had the most delicious soup that everyone had partaken.  The visitor left, but he was remembered not just for the soup, but for the lesson he imparted.

Fr Valerian D’Souza at Our Lady of Lourdes-Glen Eden shared this story as part of his homily on the Gospel reading on the multiplication of the bread and fish. “They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full.  Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.” (Matthew 124: 21)

We often tend to think that those who have abundance are obliged to share, while those who have little are exempt. But in the many occasions of seeking donations for worthy causes I have worked on, those you expect to give, do not; while there are people out of nowhere who anonymously give. And the little offerings amazingly compose the bulk of the donations that go to the beneficiaries.

The world today suffers from drought, spiritual drought that is. All around us, we see wars, senseless killings, twisted values and sinfulness. Must we surrender to the evilness in the world? Or we can fill the Cup of Life that heals the peoples’ emptiness of soul?  


Each one of us, believers in Christ, must do our share to help those who thirst. 

“Thus says the Lord: All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money come, receive grain and eat.” (Is 55:1-3)

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Sacrifice

Kenyans rule the middle-distance and long-distance athletics contests, whether this be in the Olympics, Commonwealth Games or other prestigious contests. Catherine Ndereba won the women’s Boston Marathon four times, other than being a two-time world champion. Paul Tergat and John Ngugi are spoken with reverence. 

So it was no surprise that in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the gold and silver medals went to Kenyans, while the fourth top finisher was from Kenya as well. But what was intriguing was the bronze medal winner who was Caucasian and wasn’t even known in his country.

Zane Robertson from New Zealand earned the bronze in the 5000m final at Hampden Park, Glasglow. Where did this bloke come from? The answer: “Nowhere”.

Seven years ago, together with twin brother Jake, he decided to live in Kenya and train with world’s best long distant runners.  They never visited New Zealand in that span of time. He said, "I've worked seven hard years and in the early years in Africa I sacrificed a lot. I don't see it that way anymore. I'm living the dream, travelling the world and having absolute fun living my life. Today, all those sacrifices I doubted originally, they've paid off."


In a similar vein, superstar footballer Lionel Messi said, "You have to fight to reach your dream. You have to sacrifice and work hard for it."  

I used to pity contemplative nuns who spend their entire lives behind walls, and away from people in the bigger community.  What sacrifice they offer: praying, reflecting, singing, living for the Lord. Yet their reward is far greater than any earthly recognition, any worldly possession.


How many of us have the passion of an athlete and the commitment of a contemplative nun in seeking the eternal company of the Divine, as promised by Jesus?  


“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:15-16)