Sunday, April 17, 2016

'My sheep hear my voice...'

+ RWS 699 April 17, 2016           
Fourth Sunday of Easter

Gospel: John 20: 27-30
Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life….

Eternal life
By Bishop Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB, DD

             Eternal life is what Jesus promises and will give to anyone who accepts Him and become His “sheep”. Other great men and leaders promise their would-be followers a happy and prosperous life, here and now. Other religious leaders point to another kind of life after death. It is clear then that the human being, deep within his heart longs for a life that would last forever; one that can satisfy fully his whole being. Whether one is conscious of this or not, he works and spends his energy and strength to possess a life beyond. It is therefore vitally important for us to know and accept the One who can truly give us eternal life and give our life and work to Him.
            It is only Jesus, believed by many to be truly God and truly man, who proclaimed that He is “the way, the truth, and the life “. He invites everyone who wishes to be saved and live forever to believe in Him and follow in His footsteps. Anyone who chooses to follow Jesus must “deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Him”. Following Jesus demands among many things, bearing one’s daily cross. Besides intentionally working not for one’s wellbeing but for that of the others and for the glory of God, the follower of Jesus bears the pains, hardships and difficulties of work and relationships at home and the workplace. Working for others and for God is unacceptable for many; but it is a way of denying oneself as true followers of Jesus.
            While receiving a salary, or any material compensation for doing our work, Jesus’ followers can ‘increase’ the value and can find a greater or higher meaning of their daily work. Or, we can say that Jesus gives a much greater work compensation to those who unite with Him; He rewards our work and the costs we have to pay for it, like the stresses we endure, the physical or mental fatigue we suffer and other work-related loads we bear. The risen Lord, who overcame every human pain and suffering, even death, is the only One with the power to fulfill His promise of eternal life to His faithful followers who live and work with Him and in Him.

Which sheep are you?
By Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS

                        In the profession I’m in—media—being considered a “sheep” is not an asset.  Sheep have no mind of their own.  They follow the flock.  They are weak, they can never lead.  They are bred to be led to the slaughterhouse for their meat and their skin.  From that imagery alone you can picture the kind of journalists this animal would make.  Mediocre ones—they would not get scoops, they would always be last in the race, they would be bullied by the wolves, they would be mocked and never earn the respect of their colleagues (who are lions and tigers and wolves).  That’s how the world regards sheep.  But the sheep that Jesus speaks of are different; they are His followers who hear His voice and are led to an endless life of joy with God.
            Is it possible to be this latter kind of sheep and make your mark in media?  Decades of being in this work has taught me that in the pursuit of truth, it is of utmost importance to understand that there are gray areas to be dealt with wisely (as serpents) and innocently (as doves).  I have worked with lions, tigers and wolves that have won awards for being their predatory and competitive selves, but I have also worked alongside a rare breed of the Shepherd’s followers who are veritable sheep in wolves’ clothing.  They make the effort to discreetly hide their faces, assuming the appearance of fierce animals in order to “disappear in the background” while they work to make the Truth shine.   They are the Good Shepherd’s sheep, and because the voice they heed is far beyond the editor’s and the publisher’s, they sometimes appear lost in the marketplace.  It is not awards nor recognition they seek—not even a pat on the head from the Good Shepherd Himself, because for them, doing the will of God is its own reward.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Forgive, and be forgiven

+  RWS 557 July 28, 2013
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel: Luke 11: 1-13
4 “… and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test."

By Bishop Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB, DD

Asking forgiveness and forgiving are essential parts of our life as mortals. Jesus, our Savior, taught us to ask the Father to forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. In our relationship with God and others, then, we need to humble ourselves and implore the Almighty for His mercy on us; likewise, we also need to stoop down to those who may have wronged us, and offer our forgiving hands to them. Having and nurturing this forgiving attitude then is necessary in our life. I think that our experience in work and at work, teaches us how to ask forgiveness and to be forgiving to others.
While reason tells us that we need to work in order to eat, faith in God makes us accept the burden of having to work as expiation for our sins; as our share in the redemptive work of Christ, who suffered and died on the cross in obedience to the will of the Father to save us. The worker then, who believes, will approach his work as part of his plea for God’s mercy on him. Keeping such humble attitude before God as the worker goes to work, will impact greatly and positively on the performance of the worker at his job. Expectedly, the worker will do his best to make his work as a convincing proof of his sorrow for sins and his desire to be at peace with God. Work then, gives the worker a great opportunity to merit God’s favor and mercy. Consequently, the worker will find it easy to ask his boss or his co-workers forgiveness if and when he causes them wrong.
Work and all its punishing demands somehow inflicts on us some hurts, which we need to “forgive”. We can complain and be forever unwelcoming of work and the hardships it imposes on us. But, such negative attitude towards work will not help us and keep us healthy. We need to be kind and forgiving to our work, co-workers, and even our bosses, if we want to enjoy the goodness and happiness in life which God our Father has gifted us with.

The root of hurt feelings
By Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS

Even workplaces populated by the most educated, intelligent, or polite people are prone to squabbles every now and then.  There are misunderstandings, personality clashes, conflicts in ideas or priorities, differing perceptions, wrong assumptions—which more often than not lead to hurt feelings.  When these clashes result in stalemate, they slow down work.  To turn things around it is important for those involved (and everybody in general) to realize that these conflicts are some of the very challenges that bring out the best in us, compelling us to think out of our own personal box and to view things with a truly open mind.
There is a way to overcome hurt feelings, and that is by tracing their roots and seeing them for what they are.  In the very core of things you’ll see that hurt feelings stem from an inordinate self-esteem that makes you feel you are the best and cannot ever be wrong; thus you are hurt when circumstances point to the contrary.  The situation worsens when the other person (your “enemy”) has a self-esteem that’s just as misplaced as yours.  Then nobody wants to give way—it becomes a power play where the most important thing for the playors are their hurt feelings and their pride, not the work they are supposed to do together.
The workplace is an intimate community where everybody is expected to be a team player in order that the company’s goals may be reached—bearing a grudge has no place here.  We Filipinos like to think we are a prayerful people—look how we display our piety even in our workplaces.  But if we find it beneath us to forgive or ask to be forgiven by a coworker, so that our shared work may be smoothly accomplished, then face it: we are merely praying the Our Father with our mouths, not with our hearts.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Witnessing to love

+  RWS 544 April 28, 2013
5th Sunday of Easter

Gospel: John 13:31-33;34-35
35 It is by your love for one another,
that everyone will recognize you as my disciples.

More love than goods
By Bishop Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB, DD

Loving one another is very challenging for everyone and everywhere, especially and particularly in the workplace. Workers in the manufacturing industry— where things, machines and objects are what human workers relate to most of their working hours—tend to develop an impersonal attitude which makes loving others difficult. The technician who is familiar with the precise and efficient performance of his gadgets, tools and equipment would not easily tolerate failures and mistakes of his co-workers or others he deals with.  He tends to become like a robot, incapable of loving others and understanding his own weaknesses in other activities.
Those who work in the service industries, who would spend time and energies catering to people’s needs, may not necessarily love the people they serve. Most of these workers admit they are simply doing their jobs, for which they expect to be properly compensated. They mostly work for themselves who have a host of needs and wants to be filled, not for the satisfaction of having loved or cared for another person, much less of having fulfilled a command of Jesus. Yet, the challenge of loving one another in the workplace and elsewhere is not impossible to meet; Jesus did it and His disciples do it too.
At work the urgency of becoming true disciples of Jesus is more than ever felt. While production of goods and services is what the world is looking for, everyone’s effort at work to be a person with the heart of Jesus is what the world needs. When we start to think always of the good of others rather than our very own, we behave like Christ, making the workplace a better place to live in.

The measure of fidelity
By Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS

            Today’s gospel brings to mind the workplace where material compensation is not the most important thing for a worker: the “vineyard of the Lord.”  This includes parish and diocesan offices, Church-run facilities like schools, orphanages, welfare agencies, and all other organizations that do ministries in the name—and supposedly for the love—of God.  Such workplaces may or may not be that demanding when it comes to academic attainment of their ordinary workers but all their workers are certainly expected to witness to the reality and truth of the religion they profess.
            People will tend to more readily forgive boorish, incompetent, or discourteous employees elsewhere than those who work in the Lord’s vineyard.  Somehow people expect these “vineyard workers” to be more patient, joyful, kind—possessing all the “fruits of the Holy Spirit.”  Generally, the more highly placed the worker is, the more exposed to interaction with clients, the more demanding the people become about his or her behavior and manners.  In fact, people are not so impressed by titles or academic degrees of these workers as they are by the Christ-likeness of their behavior.  Of what use are the PhDs tailing a nun’s name—or the STD, STL, and more PhDs added to a priest’s name—if they conduct themselves like coldhearted career people?  It will be easier to see the Christ in the nun who cheerfully scrubs the kitchen floor or the priest who lovingly listens to the confession of the almost senile elderly wards than in the “servant leaders up there” who feel entitled to the adoration that people reserve for God.
            After all is said and done, it is still Jesus’ way of love that measures our fidelity to the Lord.

Hear my voice

+  RWS 543 April 21, 2013
4th Sunday of Easter

Gospel: John 10:27-30
27 My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.

Jesus, the paymaster
By Bishop Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB, DD

For most workers compensation for work is very important. Those who pay or prepare the salaries then are looked up to by the workers. Generally, the more pay one gets, the greater is his regard for the paymaster.  Some workers, though, would consider their work as never properly compensated by the employer, thus their appreciation for those paying them need not be very dear. How else can a worker expect a much greater compensation for his work and how can he get it? The answer to this question is linked to the faith of the workers in things spiritual and not just those which he can count or touch, taste or acquire.
The worker who believes in Jesus, listens to His words, and above all follows His way of life—can trust in the Lord’s promise of eternal life. The worker needs to learn how to listen to the voice of Jesus in the presence and orders of his superiors in the workplace. He needs to convince himself that complying with the demands of his job to the best of his abilities is also a way of following the voice of Jesus, his Master, even if his earthly bosses may not value this faith perspective in work. He would feel greater satisfaction if he consciously feels that his work and its fruits benefit others. His efforts at maintaining good relationships with co-workers and perhaps his attempts at making them realize also the spiritual component of the daily work, are veritable acts of making God alive in the workplace—thus, making Jesus “felt” or “seen” and His “voice” listened to by others who would be challenged to also follow Him. These are but few instances when the worker can really go beyond the “call of duty”—the legal and financial demands of his job.
Jesus, on His part, assures the worker that He knows every little act of adherence, love and obedience accorded Him. What is most consoling above all is that Jesus never fails in paying back a faithful worker with eternal life and happiness.

By Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS

Focus is very important in the workplace.  To be as productive as we can, we need all our senses to be alert to what’s going on around us—the demands of customers, the needs of coworkers, the telephones ringing, instructions from clients, and the voice of the boss.  This is one of the main reasons most workplaces do not allow employees to use portable music devices while at work.  Claims that music helps people concentrate on their work have over and over again been disproven by studies in occupational psychology which reveal that listening to MP3 players on the job actually makes people “tune out” of the workplace.  Whether they know it or not, these listeners’ attention gets divided, rendering them less effective and productive.  Thus, many workplaces ban these devices and require workers to deposit their cell phones with Security, allowing access to them only during lunch breaks.
Let’s listen to three bosses:  Boss #1 who “allows” MP3 for his employees says “You can stick those stupid things in your ears but you’d better hear me when I whisper to you or you’re fired.”  Boss #2 totally bans the MP3 because “It makes them deaf and when you give them instructions they are glassy eyed because their mind is in another world.”  Boss #3 adds, “It can even make a person miss alarms or warning signals, so no way will I allow it.”
Because our employment feeds us and our families, we observe the workplace rules, believing they are for our own good, and keep our ears open to the voice of the boss.  We do the same where it concerns feeding our soul for eternal life—to listen to the voice of the Shepherd we remove all distractions, including worries about work.  But the MP3 is allowed—why not?—IF it would calm us down and dispose ourselves to be open to His Word.


+  RWS 542 April 14, 2013
3rd Sunday of Easter
Gospel: John 21:1-14
12 Jesus said to them, "Come, have breakfast."
By Bishop Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB, DD
The scene where the Risen Jesus prepared breakfast for His tired Apostles who worked the whole night fishing shows a touching picture of tenderness. This sweet and satisfying aspect of human relationship seems to be a rare sight in the world today where there is much hatred, selfishness, conflict and war and where the lifestyle of “rugged individualism” would seem to annihilate any trace of loving tenderness among humans. At home and at work, tenderness needs to be cultivated and demonstrated by everyone.
Workers in the service industries like in the hotel and restaurant business, tourism, hospitals and others could have the chance to show great tenderness in their attitude and behavior towards the people they serve. Some indeed are so sweet in serving their clients and customers that a great sense of satisfaction is felt by everyone. However, this kind of goodness and kindness in serving others could be motivated by financial or material gains. Workers in these businesses would be trained to be courteous and appealing to customers at all times even when they are not disposed inwardly to be tender, perhaps due to some emotional disturbances beyond their control. So, there are times when a seemingly forced act of tenderness would be artificially shown, and customers could sense its lack of genuine character.
A good training in human relationships for workers would be a great help to develop and promote their sense of goodness and tenderness. Rewards and incentives for workers excelling in acts of tenderness towards customers could reinforce this good trait. But, I think, a deeper and a more spiritual experience is necessary for a worker to become an authentic tender and kind person. He needs to encounter and experience the Risen Jesus who wills to transform anyone who believes in Him into the loving and tender Person that He is. The worker then should try to see the Lord first of all in himself and also in every person he serves and works for. How would you feel when you work as if you are having breakfast with the Risen Lord?

Breakfast before breakfast
By Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS

In the rush to get to work on time, so many people skip breakfast, not realizing that it is the most important meal of the day.  Doctors have been presenting evidence proving that a good and hearty breakfast is what the body needs for one to be alert and productive the whole day, and yet there are those who would rather just gulp down a cup of instant cereal or instant chocolate drink as breakfast, believing the vitamins claimed to be in those products give enough energy to start off the day. Worse, there are those who swear that a cup of coffee is all they need to jumpstart their working day—“Just something hot for the tummy and to wake up my sleepy nerves.”   And there are also those who give up breakfast altogether in the misguided notion that doing so would save their time or keep their weight down.
If they only knew (or believed) that skipping breakfast could actually lead to obesity, diabetes or even heart attack, they’d surely rise earlier to enjoy a huge slice of papaya followed by home made tapsilog, or the healthier plate of boiled rice, sinapaw na talbos ng kamote (steamed sweet potato tops) and daing at kamatis (dried fish and tomatoes).  The only problem is: are we motivated enough to want to have a healthy body through a healthy breakfast?
This is where we need The Breakfast before the breakfast—it can be taken right upon waking up, in response to Jesus’ invitation to “Come, have breakfast”.  While still savoring a moment in bed, try mentally joining the disciples on the beach, about to eat bread and fish that the Lord Himself has freshly broiled.  Yummy!!!  Listening to the Master while sharing His meal?  Wow!  That sets the perfect tone for the next 24 hours.  Faithfully done, it can clarify our mind, enabling us to listen to our body and treat it with the respect it deserves.  If ours is a healthy mind in a healthy body, what employer wouldn’t want us on board?