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Fire and brimstone

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

26th Week in Ordinary Time

 1st Reading: Jd 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23

Gospel: Luke 9:51-56

 As the time drew near when Jesus would be taken up to heaven, he made up his mind to go to Jerusalem. He had sent ahead of him some messengers who entered a Samaritan village to prepare a lodging for him. But the people would not receive him because he was on his way to Jerusalem. Seeing this, James and John, his disciples said, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to reduce them to ashes?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went on to another village.

D@iGITAL-EXPERIENCE

(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience

To cut cost during our side trip to other European countries from the World Youth Day 2005 in Germany, we travelled on our own without the services of a travel agency. Arriving in Rome the group stayed at the train station. Our leader sent me and another priest ahead to the city to scout for affordable lodging. I found a hotel for 90 Euros per night while the other priest found one for only 85 Euros. We chose the latter, but not without regrets. The hotel air-conditioning was shut down, and breakfast was just as much as a hungry bird’s share. The elevator made me feel it was safer scaling the dilapidated building with a rope. The hotel was called Hotel Mirage….true to its name.

This experience keeps coming back to my mind each time I reflect about the Gospel reading of today. Jesus too asked some messengers to go ahead to prepare lodging for him at a Samaritan town.  The Samaritans did not give him any lodging because he was a Jew.  James and John reacted violently. There are two ways one can react to rejection. James and John were reactive whereas Jesus was reflective. Few would react like Jesus because the instinctive way is to go the way of James and John.  Here lies the need for deeper spirituality. Only a prayerful person can exercise self-restraint when the instinctive thing to do is to be violent. This was what Jesus did when refused lodging by the Samaritans. Realizing that he was only caught in the cross fire between Jews and Samaritans who were locked up in mutual discrimination, he did not allow his disciples to retaliate.

Reflection separates reality from mirage. This was reality: the Samaritans did not mean to be personal when they refused Jesus lodging. The perceived rejection was only a delusion.  When we live in delusion we waste energy in shadow boxing or in fighting the wrong enemies. More often than not the real enemy is ourselves. “Madness is fighting outside ourselves when the real enemy is deep within”. Yes, delusion can lead to madness; constant reflection exposes us to the ways of wisdom. Let us immerse ourselves in the spirituality of Jesus so that we too may be reflective and exercise greater control upon ourselves.  – Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., DM. Email: dan.delosangeles@gmail.com. Website: www.frdan.org.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY: God our Father, grant us the gifts of wisdom and patience so that by constant meditation we may conquer ourselves and the in the process conquer the world. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

CHURCH BULLETIN:

 SAINT OF THE DAY: St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church. He was born at Stridon in Dalmatia around the year 340. He studied the classical authors at Rome, and was baptized there. He embraced a life of asceticism and went to the East where he was ordained a priest. Returning to Rome, he became a secretary to Pope Damasus. At Rome he began to translate the holy Scriptures into Latin and to promote the monastic life. Eventually he settled in Bethlehem where he served the needs of the Church. He wrote many works, especially commentaries on holy Scripture. He died at Bethlehem in 420.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel & Raphael

 1st Reading: Dn 7:9-10,13-14 or Rev 12:7-12

Gospel: John 1:47-51

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, he said of him, “Here comes an Israelite, a true one; there is nothing false in him.” Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?” And Jesus said to him, “Before Philip called you, you were under the fig tree and I saw you.”

Nathanael answered, “Master, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” But Jesus replied, “You believe because I said: ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ But you will see greater things than that.

Truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

 D@iGITAL-EXPERIENCE

(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)

Nathanael passed the test of integrity when Jesus said of him: “Here comes an Israelite, a true one; there is no duplicity in him.” Israel was the original name of Jacob, grandson of Abraham.  He was duplicitous because he cheated his brother Esau by grabbing from him the blessing of their father Isaac. A father’s blessing was important to the Hebrews because the son getting the blessing would be in the same lineage of the Messiah to come. By stealing his father’s blessing, Jacob (Israel) grabbed the right to that lineage from Esau. Jesus found the true Israel in Nathanael – one having no guile or duplicity.

Nathanael knew the story of Jacob (Israel) by heart, for he was a reflective man who often meditated on Scriptures under the shade of a fig tree. To the Hebrews, the shade under a fig tree was conducive to reflection and meditation. Nathanael must have spent time under a fig tree meditating on Scriptures’ promise of a Messiah.  This explains Nathanael’s surprise when Jesus addressed him, on their very first meeting, as a true Israelite without any guile or duplicity. To him Jesus was one who knew his inner self and fathomed the depths of his desire and longing for the fulfillment of Yahweh’s promise made to his forefathers. “Master, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Nathanael exclaimed.  In reply Jesus said that he’d see more signs of who he was with the opening of the heavens and with the angels of God “ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Nathanael recognized in this statement Jacob’s dream about a stairway resting on the ground with its top reaching to the heavens and God’s messengers going up and down on it. (Gen. 28:12). Nathanael recognized Jesus as that ladder connecting earth and heaven and making it possible for him to ascend to Yahweh.

The same ladder is available to us. But we won’t be ready to climb that ladder unless, like Nathanael we too pass the test of integrity. It’s a tall order, really, because Nathanael was a man without guile. But if we cannot come any closer to that, at least let us be like Nathanael in his longing to have the Messiah rule his life. – Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., DM. Email: dan.delosangeles@gmail.com.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY: God our Father, grant us the gift of integrity so that we may persevere in climbing the ladder to the heavens, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

CHURCH BULLETIN:

FEAST OF THE DAY: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael – Archangels. They are spiritual beings of the highest rank created by God before the beginning of the world. They have no material body and are immortal. Their name is given according to the mission they have received from God.

MICHAEL (“Who-is-like-God”) was assigned to fight the devil. He was appointed to cast Lucifer out of paradise, for challenging the sovereignty of God. Then war broke out; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon.  (Revelation 12:7-8). Michael helps us in the daily struggle against Satan.

GABRIEL: (“the Power-of-God”) received the mission to proclaim God’s power. He was sent to announce the birth of Jesus to Mary (Luke 1:37). Gabriel has the power to assist us in most desperate cases, and to protect those who announce the Good News.

RAPHAEL (“Medicine-of-God”) was appointed to cure sickness. He was sent to guide Tobiah on his journey and he protected him from a demon during the first wedding night. He also healed Tobit from blindness. After revealing his true identity he said to him: I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who enter and serve before the glory of the Lord. (Tobit 12:14).

Sunday, September 28, 2014

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

San Lorenzo Ruiz

1st Reading: Ezekiel 18:25-28

2nd Reading: Philippians 2:1-11

Gospel: Matthew 21:28-32

 Jesus went on to say to the chief priests and the elders of the people, “What do you think of this? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said to him: ‘Son, today go and work in my vineyard.’ And the son answered: ‘I don’t want to.’ But later he thought better of it and went. Then the father went to the second and gave him the same command. This son replied: ‘I will go, sir,’ but he did not go.

“Which of the two did what the father wanted?” They answered, “The first.” And Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you: the publicans and the prostitutes are ahead of you on the way to the kingdom of heaven. For John came to show you the way of goodness but you did not believe him, yet the publicans and the prostitutes did. You were witnesses of this, but you neither repented nor believed him.”

D@iGITAL-EXPERIENCE

(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)

Today’s Liturgy of the Word deepens the meaning of the parable of the hired workers (Mt. 20:1-16) where a master paid all laborers equal salaries regardless of the number of hours of service rendered. God’s mercy is dynamic, and is not tied to one’s past performance. This finds support in today’s first reading from Ezekiel 18:25-28. It says that if a righteous man shifts to a sinful life and dies, he is doomed, whereas an evil person, who turns away from his sinful life and dies, will live forever. It sounds unfair but that is how God’s generosity operates (Matthew 20:15).  God’s ways are not man’s ways (Isaiah 55:8).

The past is not prejudicial to a repentant person. In the parable of the two brothers the disobedient one who later shaped up won the Gospel’s commendation. God evaluates men not the way men evaluate their own kind. The past cannot tie the generous and merciful hands of God. God is results oriented. Like fig trees he is happy enough to find fruits in us on the day of his visitation (Matthew 21:18-22).

People can make this wrong conclusion: If God looks at the ending, conversion can wait till after a generous indulgence in the perquisites that the devil offers. Wrong. Postponing conversion is a dangerous strategy. In the first place we do not know how much time we have. Our life is seventy or eighty for those who are strong (Psalm 90:10). Eighty years pass so quickly, and this verse is not even to be literally understood, for many in fact have died at a tender age.

Even if we still have enough time, we are not computers that can be reformatted anytime in order to delete past inputs. Man is by nature resistant to change. Our past will always have remanent effects on the present. Like eyes accustomed to darkness which must be slowly introduced to the light, a bad person cannot just barge into the halls of morality without traumatizing his system. The trauma can break him down and defeat the very purpose for which the transition from evil to good is made.

If we must move from evil to good the time to make the transition is now. God can wait but time cannot. When the waiting is over, make sure faith is already there. (Luke 18:8).  – Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., DM. Email: dan.delosangeles@gmail.com. Website: www.frdan.org.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY: God our Father, grant us the grace of repentance so that without delay we may return to you with a firm resolve to do your will through Christ our Lord Amen.

CHURCH BULLETIN:

SAINT OF THE DAY: San Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint. He was born in the Chinese district of Manila. He was married and had three children. In 1636, while serving as a clerk at Binondo Church, he was falsely accused of murdering a Spaniard. He fled with some missionaries bound for Japan. When the ship reached Okinawa they were arrested. The martyrs were made to swallow pails of water while some soldiers trampled on their belly.  They were hanged upside-down inside holes full of filth. Before his martyrdom, Lorenzo said, If I had a thousand lives, I would give all of them to Him.

Adversities in life

Saturday, September 27, 2014

25th Week in Ordinary Time

St. Vincent de Paul

 ding: Eccl 11:9—12:8

Gospel: Luke 9:43-45

While all were amazed at everything Jesus did, he said to his disciples, “Listen and remember what I tell you now: The Son of Man will be delivered into human hands.” But the disciples didn’t understand this saying; something prevented them from grasping what he meant and they were afraid to ask him about it.

D@iGITAL-EXPERIENCE

(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)

Earlier Peter confessed that Jesus was “the Messiah of God” (Luke 9:18-22). Although what Peter said came close to the core of Jesus’ identity, it was a dangerous one because it also captured the hidden longing of the Jews for a political king who could free them from bondage. The implications were disastrous to the raison d’être of Jesus which ruled out any political agenda. Rightly did Jesus evade this title and use instead “Son of Man”, a title derived from the Book of the Prophet Daniel.

The Book of Daniel describes the Son of Man as someone who comes in glory to judge the nations with justice but suffers terribly at the hands of people. Jesus identified himself with this image when in today’s Gospel he said: “Listen and remember what I tell you now: The Son of Man will be delivered into human hands.”Although the disciples were familiar with the Book of Daniel, “something prevented them from grasping what he meant…” (Lk. 9:45).

What was it that prevented them from grasping the meaning of what Jesus said? Blame it on their paradigm that equated suffering with defeat. Since they could not allow Jesus to end up in defeat lest they too will perish, they refused to understand the necessity of Jesus’ submission to the enemies. We cannot share this paradigm. For us suffering plays an important role in character flexing and faith building. Even psychologists have acknowledged this when they set aside Intelligence Quotient (IQ) to give way to Adversity Quotient (AQ).

The formula of AQ should be faith/adversity x 100. In plain language the formula means that faith must maintain a one to one ratio with adversity to generate a hundred percent adversity quotient. Adversity quotient drops when faith remains stagnant as adversity increases. To sustain a hundred percent adversity quotient, faith must grow as adversity increases, maintaining a one to one ratio. By maintaining a hundred percent adversity quotient, one’s faith grows sturdier as adversity batters him the stronger.

Having explored the concept of adversity quotient, it is important for us to take note that it was not for AQ that Jesus underwent sufferings. He did not need any faith flexing and character building. It was more to challenge us that if he, the Messiah of God, willingly took the role of the Son of Man with all its implications of sufferings and tribulations, with how much more alacrity should we go through testing for our own spiritual benefit! – Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., DM. Email:dan.delosangeles@gmail.com. Website: www.frdan.org.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY: God our Father, as we thank you for the gift of eternal life, we ask you for the grace to persevere in all adversities in life. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

CHURCH BULLETIN: 

  SAINT OF THE DAY: St. Vincent de Paul, Priest, Patron of Charitable Societies. He was born of a poor family in France in 1581. He spent a comfortable life as chaplain of an aristocratic family in Paris. In 1617, while hearing the confession of a sick farmer, he realized the terrible spiritual conditions of peasants. He vowed to offer his life for the poor and the formation of priests.

Friday, September 26, 2014

25th Week in Ordinary Time

 1st Reading: Eccl 3:1-11

Gospel: Luke 9:18-22

One day when Jesus was praying alone, not far from his disciples, he asked them, “What do people say about me?” And they answered, “Some say that you are John the Baptist; others say that you are Elijah, and still others that you are one of the former prophets risen from the dead.” Again Jesus asked them, “Who then do you say I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” Then Jesus spoke to them, giving them strict orders not to tell this to anyone.

And he added, “The Son of Man must suffer many things. He will be rejected by the elders and chief priests and teachers of the Law, and put to death. Then after three days he will be raised to life.”

  D@iGITAL-EXPERIENCE

(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)

We have heard of the personality development theory called Johari Window, named after the combination of the first names of its inventors Joseph Luft and Harry Ingram. According to this theory, self-knowledge falls into four quadrants, namely, the open, the blind, the hidden and the unknown quadrant.

To the open quadrant belong personal information known to you and the public. Those known to the public alone and unknown to yourself belong to the second quadrant called the blind quadrant. The third quadrant contains those known only to you and not to the public.  The fourth quadrant is called the unknown quadrant. It contains information that are neither known to you nor to the public.

The Johari window enriches our understanding of today’s Gospel reading. When Jesus asked feedback about himself from his disciples he was operating from the second quadrant. However, it was not for purposes of self-improvement; it was to provoke the disciples into deeper reflection of their knowledge of who he was.

The best feedback Jesus got came from Peter who said: “You are the Messiah of God.” It was not the perfect answer, though. While it sounded politically correct, it did not capture the mission-vision of Jesus on earth, a mission-vision that ruled out the concept of earthly kingship. Peter’s answer certainly embraced this concept, and it only heightened the peoples’ thirst to hasten the formation of a revolutionary government that would crush the Roman invaders.

Today’s Gospel reading challenges us to answer the same question Jesus asked his disciples.  Who is Jesus to us? We may find this question irrelevant thinking we are religious enough to know Jesus so well. But the Johari window invites us to explore the other quadrants of self knowledge so that we may not stagnate. By humbly reflecting upon the blind and the unknown quadrants we see the possibility that we might not be as religious as we think after all.  In seeking to know Jesus more we lessen our tendency towards hypocrisy and veer away from split-level Christianity.      – Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., DM. Email: dan.delosangeles@gmail.com. Website: www.frdan.org.

Prayer for the day: God our Father, grant us the desire to know you more by knowing Jesus and putting his commandment of love into practice. Grant this through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

CHURCH BULLETIN: 

SAINTS OF THE DAY: Sts. Cosmas and Damian, Patrons of Physicians. They were twin brothers from Arabia. After completing their medical studies in Syria, they settled at Aegea in Cilicia, where they became skillful physicians. Their work of charity and their practice of the Christian Faith led many people to Christ. In 283, during the persecution under Diocletian, they were first crucified and then beheaded. Many miracles of healing were ascribed to them. Sometimes they appeared to the sick people in their sleep and prescribed for them the right cure. Several churches were built in honor of the two martyrs and a beautiful basilica in Rome is one of them. Many people especially those in the medical profession, pray to these martyrs who spread Christianity through their acts of mercy and their strength and courage in welcoming the persecution they suffered from the enemies of the Church.

Fear is Useless

Thursday, September 25, 2014

25th Week in Ordinary Time

 1st Reading: Eccl 1:2-11

Gospel: Luke 9:7-9

King Herod heard of all this and did not know what to think, for people said, “This is John, raised from the dead.” Others believed that Elijah or one of the ancient prophets had come back to life. As for Herod, he said, “I had John beheaded; who is this man about whom I hear such wonders?” And he was anxious to see him.

 D@iGITAL-EXPERIENCE

(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)

Hearsay is not admissible in evidence in our courts and tribunals unless the impossibility of alteration in the process of message transmission is established. The information that reached Herod about Jesus was hearsay. Yet he rushed to interpret it within the framework of his experience with John the Baptist. He was yet to meet Jesus in person yet the little information about him that reached him already disturbed him. The mere mention of his extraordinary activities drove Herod back down memory lanes where particular milestones hounded him. “He is John the Baptist come back to life”, he exclaimed.

He could have interpreted the Jesus event some other way without connecting it to the story of John the Baptist. Unfortunately, unwanted memories refuse to die. The memory of John the Baptist came alive to him in the person of Jesus. Today’s Gospel reading ends with the description that Herod was “anxious” to see Jesus. The word “anxious” is descriptive of the guilt he was carrying deep within. This guilt petrified into fear and became the boulder that he tried to break off into manageable pieces. The chunks became the very stones that his conscience hurled upon him day and night. Take note that the object of his fear was Jesus.  How pathetic that Herod lived in fear even though Jesus was just living nearby.

Many people struggle with the unmanageable consequences of past mistakes and are restrained by the ugly tentacles of their own guilt. The power of guilt cannot be underestimated. That is why one must address guilt at its inception before it can take root in the deepest sanctuaries of his soul. The best thing to start with, before doing acts of restitution, is to come to the merciful embrace of Jesus.

Trouble comes when one has made Jesus the very source of his fear as Herod did. Where else can he go? From whom else can he draw strength?  Jesus is Lord of yesterday, today and tomorrow. He alone can heal us of the binding effect of yesterday. He alone can restore us to the brilliance of today. In him alone we can find assure us of a brighter tomorrow. Woe to the one who cannot approach Jesus because of fear.

Fortunately for the guilty Jesus said that “Fear is useless, what is needed is faith”. These words are not hearsay; the Word himself became flesh to make this assurance a reality.   – Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., DM. Email: dan.delosangeles@gmail.com. Website: www.frdan.org.

Prayer for the day: God our Father, as we thank you for being the first to love us, we ask you for the gift of peace and so come one day to the kingdom you promise through Christ our Lord. Amen.

CHURCH BULLETIN:

SAINT OF THE DAY: SAINT OF THE DAY: St. Finbar, first Bishop of Cork was born in the 6th century and died in 633. The monastery he founded became a major influence in the southern part of Ireland.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014
25th Week in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Prv 30:5-9

Gospel: Lk 9:1–6
    Jesus called his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to drive out all evil spirits and to heal diseases. And he sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He instructed them, “Don’t take anything for the journey, neither walking stick, nor bag, nor bread, nor silver coins; and don’t even take a spare tunic. Whatever house you enter, remain there until you leave that place. And wherever they don’t welcome you, leave the town and shake the dust from your feet: it will be as a testimony against them.”
So they set out and went through the villages, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.

 D@iGITAL-EXPERIENCE

(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)

Jesus’ message to the Twelve before they left for the mission carried four distinct instructions, namely, to “Heal”, to “Exorcise” demons, to “Announce” the coming of the kingdom, and to “Leave” unresponsive towns behind. (H.E.A.L.). A closer look at Jesus’ life will reveal that Jesus himself already performed these before he commissioned his disciples to do them.

Jesus healed the sick. After Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law, he also healed all the sick who were brought to him (Luke 4: 38-40). He cured the leper who said: “Lord if you wish you can heal me” (Luke 5: 12-16), the paralytic that was lowered down from the roof (Luke 5:17-26), a man whose right hand was withered even though healing was forbidden on a Sabbath (Luke 6:6-10), the slave of the  centurion (Luke 7:1-10), the daughter of Jairus, and the woman with a hemorrhage (Luke 8:40-56).

Jesus exorcised demons. After he cured the mother-in-law of Simon, and after healing all sick people brought to him, he also rebuked demons that were shouting “you are the Son of God”. (Luke 4:41. See also Luke 4:38-40). At the territory of the Gerasenes, Jesus drove out a legion of demons from a possessed man and allowed these demons to enter the pigs.   (Luke 8:40-56).

Jesus announced the kingdom. When the crowd went looking for him at Capernaum after he healed many sick people including the mother-in-law of Simon, Jesus said he also had to go to other towns to announce the kingdom (Luke 4:43. See also Luke 8:1).

Jesus left unresponsive towns in testimony against them. Jesus respected the freedom of people. At one time, the disciples asked permission to pray for fire and brimstone to fall on a town that did not welcome them. But Jesus did not tolerate such violent reaction but merely moved on to another town. In today’s Gospel reading he also instructed them to leave inhospitable towns in testimony against them (Luke 9:1-6).

Today, Jesus continues to call disciples to H.E.A.L. the world. The least we can do is to welcome those who respond to the call and to support them.  – Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., DM. Email: dan.delosangeles@gmail.com. Website: www.frdan.org.

Prayer for the day: Father, give us generous hearts so that we may share our resources to people working in your vineyard and so help build your kingdom on earth through Christ our Lord. Amen.

CHURCH BULLETIN:

 SAINT OF THE DAY: St. Gerard Sagredo, Bishop and Martyr, born in Venice. He joined the Benedictine monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice when he was just a young boy. Later, he left and went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. While traveling in Hungary, he was asked by the King, St. Stephen, to tutor his son. This made him known as a very good preacher and he was eventually appointed bishop.      There was a general uprising against Christianity after the death of King Stephen. The idolatrous soldiers persecuted those with Faith. St. Gerard was one of them. He was martyred when he was pierced by a lance and tossed into the Danube River on September 24, 1046.

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