Sunday, November 26, 2017

+ RWS 783 November 26, 2017    Solemnity of Christ the King

Gospel: Matthew 25: 31-46
“…whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me”
By Bishop Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB, DD

At the end of our life we face the Giver of Life, who will judge us on how we have lived united with Him every moment of our earthly existence. Our life after the earthly one will either be a continuation of our union with Him on earth, or an eternal separation from the Source of life and happiness. Jesus, the King and Judge of all humanity will invite into His kingdom those who recognize Him in the daily event, no matter how little and insignificant it may be, and in every person especially those who are last and least in the community and society.
            The reminder of what we shall be in the afterlife should guide us in our daily life and work. We need to make every moment of our earthly existence count in order to merit eternal union with God. Every action and work we do should be done with the awareness of God’s presence. The small daily tasks that we need to perform are significant before the Lord and King of the universe. We should do the small acts, which we sometimes don’t give importance to, with great love and care, for God is also in small things. We relate with our co-workers, especially those whom we consider unfriendly to us, or those whom we don’t seem to care about at all, with great respect and kindness, for Jesus identifies Himself in them. We can also do our work thinking of the people whom we don’t even know and who will benefit our work. We give our total selves in our job, believing in Jesus who reminds us that what we do is done for Him. Thus, our afterlife depends on how well we do our daily work in relation to Him and the others.

Giving pure and simple

By Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS

Today’s gospel story sounds so simple—feed the hungry, visit the prisoner, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, look after the sick, and you’ll go to heaven; don’t do those things and you’ll go to hell.  Seems as easy as separating sheep from goats, choosing right or left hand of God.  And that’s probably what modern evangelizers will tell you it takes to be “saved”—do good.  The problem with that is it makes heaven look like a bag of candies, and God like Santa Claus.  “You better watch out…he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows when you’ve been bad or good so be good ... Santa Claus is coming to town!”
What seems to be overlooked in this story is the fact of selflessness in those who do good.  They were not aware that they were already earning a ticket to heaven by doing good.  They asked, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?”  They simply served the needy as their way of living a life of faith.
There are people who “do good” but with the selfish intent of polishing their public image, or “do good” as an investment in heaven because they are afraid of hell.  Authentic charity is giving pure and simply, not thinking of any reward, not even feeling good about doing good.      

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Pafrable of thTalents

+ RWS 782 November 19, 2017  /   33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel: Matthew 25: 14-30
“Entrusted his possessions to them…to each according to his ability”
By Bishop Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB, DD
      Every person is unique. Even identical twins would have something different from each other. Jesus affirms this truth in a parable on the talents where He teaches that God gives each person different degree of His powers, sufficient enough for the person to become the individual God has planned him/her to be. Being aware of our uniqueness willed by God for us and gratefully accepting this truth about us would guide us in our journey of life. This aspect could help us understand our identity and therefore become focused and determined in our thoughts and actions in our daily life and work.
      The human person at work should be aware of his individuality and uniqueness so that he would not be just like the other factors of production of goods and services, like the tools, machinery, materials and other non-human elements. Human work and activity has a character and value much different from other activities and movements. While the result of human work and activity maybe similar or even identical, the person doing the work is a unique being, who could put a unique amount of love and purpose on his actions. A machine operator has a heart and a soul which the machine does not have. Two machine operators would also be different, not in the system and structure of operating the machine, but in the intensity of the love with which each does his job, or the kind of purpose one works for. But, any machine operator, or any worker for that matter, could be the best one in his job in as much as he gives his whole being in every task he does. The Giver of talents in every person rewards sufficiently the worker who gives his whole being in his job.
Honest and hated
By Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS
      Most reflections on this Parable of the Talents assume that the rich man who lent money to his servants is a good and righteous man.  He thus rewarded those who also in their righteousness made his money grow, and punished the one who added nothing to his wealth. 
      Let’s welcome another way of seeing this story, and say that the money lender is a corrupt and greedy man, say a drug lord, and the two servants—corrupt and greedy like him—multiplied his wealth by also dealing in drugs, human trafficking, jueteng, and illegal recruitment of OFWs.  But the third man, being honest, regarded the money as his master’s; thus he merely accepted the money for safekeeping and did nothing to use it in any way—bad or good—that would further enrich the greedy man.  Here it is not just a question of money multiplied, but also of the morality of the business it was used for—activities that take advantage of people’s weakness, need, trust, and hopes.
      Do you see the connection between this parable told over 2,000 years ago and the situation in our country today?  Rewarding the exploiters and punishing the honest servant is what makes the rich richer, and the poor, poorer.  It becomes more pathetic when the system prevails in the workplace where co-workers more or less know one another—the unscrupulous ones band together, and the honest ones are hated.  When the boss sides with the former, the latter get ostracized, fired, or sometimes even killed.  Those desiring to follow Jesus must know that this is the price of servanthood—standing strong against temptation, doing only what Jesus would do.       

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Being prepared

+ RWS 781 November 12, 2017   /   32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel: Matthew 25: 1-13
“Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Fear of the unknown
By Bishop Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB, DD
      There are things in our life that we do not know and therefore we feel afraid about them.
One of these unknown things that Jesus reminds us is the “day or the hour” that we will meet the Lord in glory. This moment certainly is at the moment of death, when we end our bodily and earthly life and activity. But, Jesus emphasized more our being alert and awake in doing what is good and proper to our human life than knowing the date and time of death. Our efforts to live and work according to God’s will for us are the best approach of eliminating the fear of the unknown time of our earthly departure.
      Spending one’s energy, time and talents as a way of preparing well our earthly end, which is the moment of our glorious encounter with God, is an important perspective of our human life. After all, God has given us life and everything we do with it, in order to be happy with Him. The period of our earthly existence is like a “probation period” in our journey towards regaining the fullness of life and happiness with God. If we live and work united with God, spending all our energies and talents with love for their Source, the certainty of enjoying His eternal friendship and presence would vanish all fears of what comes after life on earth. Doing every task at home, in the work place, or in any circumstance of life, with the certainty of one’s faith or belief in Jesus, will root out all kinds of fears, anxieties and insecurities in life. Doing one’s ordinary duties or work in an extraordinary manner, that is, with faith and love for God, makes one peaceful, joyful, and courageous in facing the unknown.
Being prepared
By Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS
      Today’s gospel story offers lessons that can be applied to so many aspects of work and life. In the workplace, it could show us the ill effects of procrastination.  If we put aside the day’s work, and make a habit of it, time comes when we’re too swamped with backlog, reducing our productivity and efficiency—so we shouldn’t wonder why we don’t get a pay increase.
      In community life, the lesson could be: preparedness.  On television and radio we are constantly taught what to do during an earthquake, or what to pack in preparation for a typhoon.  Often, too, these words “…stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour…” are taken as a warning against sudden death, a timely reminder considering the multiple deaths in our midst nowadays as reflected in the news—terrorists attacking public places, tandem bikers shooting people with impunity, EJKs, even young men dying from hazing.
      But staying awake and being ready for the unexpected “day” or “hour” is not always about physical preparation.   We are not only bodies, we are spirit, too.  If we strive to recognize how God works in our lives we can make ourselves ready for anything.  Prayer makes us stay in touch with God; in our silence and stillness, God, our Loving Father and Friend, helps us understand what is going on in and around us, and shows us our place in creation.  Our world may be full of distractions but a healthy relationship with God protects us from being enslaved by these distractions—and  keeps us grounded, well balanced, and prepared, no matter the day or the hour.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Brotherhood and Fraternities

+ RWS 780 November 5, 2017   /   31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel: Matthew 23: 1-12
“…you are all brothers…you have but one Father in heaven”
By Bishop Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB, DD
Jesus reveals to us that we are all brothers since we have one Father in heaven. If we believe in this, then we should look at one another in the spirit of brotherhood. Brothers, consider each other with love and respect; they support one another and do a lot of things for each other. A brother would even sacrifice himself for the good and welfare of the other/s whom he considers as coming from the same origin either by blood or by faith. I remember my elder brother who worked in a bank and sent his salary for my sisters to go to college and became professionals. Several similar situations abound in many Filipino families.
Believing in what Jesus said, we could also do our work for the good and welfare of others whom we consider as our brothers in the faith. We may not be able to give our salaries for other people who are not our siblings, but, the dedication and wholehearted efforts we spend on performing our jobs may be done in view of the good that others may benefit from our work. The products and services that result from our work that is done with our best efforts will certainly affect positively others. When a worker does his job for money, he would not perform his task as well as when he is aware that he does it for a brother or sister he holds dear to himself. When the worker imbibes the Christian sense of brotherhood, then he also establishes in the work place and among his co-workers a family. Thus, a spirit of love, respect, cooperation among workers would reign in the work place, and the heavenly Father, though unseen, will certainly be present. 
Brotherhood in fraternities
By Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS
      The title of the reflection above, “Brotherhood” brings to mind “fraternity”, and by association moves me to re-examine the idea of brotherhood in today’s fraternities.  Still piping hot in the current headlines is the death last month of one neophyte during initiation rites which involved hazing.  One cannot simply look the other way when a young man his parents had the highest hopes for is now dead due to senseless violence done in the name of “brotherhood.”
      All families—not just those with sons in fraternities—should seriously question the validity of such organizations that claim to promote brotherhood and yet use hateful standards in accepting members.  The problem of hazing in fraternities has been with us for decades, coming into focus only when an initiate dies, and then the case usually gets buried along with the victim.  Nobody seems to learn.
      We who merely follow the news may know nothing of the law in this case, but we do have common sense and conscience—without any legal sophistication we know that some frat “brothers” must own responsibility for the death of a “brother.”  It seems ironic that the Aegis Juris fraternity members—young men studying to become lawyers in the futureare already having an early OJT, applying their legalistic skills and going around the law with their lawyers in order to escape blame. 
     Families should also ask themselves why their sons seek to belong in such exclusive  fraternities—don’t they feel they already belong in a loving family?  A family that recognizes the Creator as the Father of all teaches its children the sense of brotherhood that Jesus speaks of: we need not feel superior to others because we are all brothers, embraced by the Father’s love.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Forgiveness--the road to peace

RWS 773 September 17, 2017, 24rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Matthew 18: 21-35
“…how often must I forgive?... Jesus answered, Í say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.’”

Christian forgiveness
By Bishop Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB, DD
            What is the difference between Christian forgiveness and other kinds of forgiveness? For one, it is given so many times to the same offender, “seventy-seven times”, if one takes literally what Jesus said. Secondly, from what Jesus did, dying on the Cross forgiving everyone, He teaches a forgiveness which no human can give, but, which only God, the divine, can give. For any human to forgive as God does, he must be one with the Divine, fully imbued with God’s Spirit. Jesus makes this possible to anyone who believes in Him and accepts Him totally in life.
            Situations in our life that need forgiveness of others challenge us to be simply human in forgiving, or to be divine. Our daily activities, including our work, could often times fill our life with overwhelming human considerations which could limit our feelings of forgiveness to others. We find it difficult to let go of a mistake of our co-workers when we know that it is done with no valid and/or reasonable excuses. We would give at most two warnings to offending subordinates, who will surely get the sanctions on the third offence. Mostly at the workplace, only a slight margin of error is allowed, if an error is at all considered. Work performance and the corresponding rewards or compensation is measured also according to incidences of failures—the fewer, the better. Human, material and monetary considerations are the important determinants for judging and giving the corresponding measure for error, failure or offense. When a worker hurts the other or the company, through his performance or his attitudes and behavior, he is considered a liability which has to be taken away. Christian forgiveness is a financial liability in business; but it is a value that everyone needs to acquire in life.

Forgiving—the door to His peace
By Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS

      Sometimes a person cannot forgive even once, so how can he be persuaded to forgive as many as 77 times?  And yet, our Lord asks for no less.  Why so strict, people ask.  Forgiveness seems to be getting too obsolete a value nowadays. When it’s considered cool to get even, people who prefer to follow Christ and forgive are seen as weaklings.  “They have no choice but to forgive because they can’t fight,” they are unfairly judged.
            In one workplace alone, two women sit side by side but their attitudes towards personal offenses are at the opposite end of the pole.  Merlyn cannot forgive the father of her granddaughter for abandoning her daughter in her pregnancy; even though she finds so much joy in her apo, she cannot forgive and accept its “stupid father”.  On the other hand, there’s Carla whose husband of 25 years ran away with a woman younger than their firstborn—and yet Carla forgives him and makes peace with her husband’s second family.  The irony of it is, both women are devout churchgoers, so how come one can forgive while the other can not?
            The reason behind the difference in outlook may be a mystery to their co-workers but one thing the latter are sure of is: Carla is easier to work with than Merlyn.  Which leads us to the thought that when the Lord asks us to forgive not just seven but 77 times, He is actually opening the door for us to His peace—that lightness of being that overcomes a person who, humbled by God’s love, has discovered how easy it is to forgive.