Sunday, August 20, 2017

'Woman, great is your faith!'

+ RWS 769, August 20, 2017, 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Matthew 15:21-28
Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith!  Let it be done for you as you wish.”

Having great faith
By Bishop Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB, DD

      Having a great faith does not only drive away doubts in our minds and hearts which could make our life and work uncertain, but, it also makes us feel secure about our being, gives us the sense of power and makes us efficient and effective in every act we do. Faith, essentially, is being certain of something not on the grounds of one’s reason and comprehension of the thing believed, but on the authority of someone acknowledged as superior to the believer.  Faith, they say, is like a leap in the dark, a decision to act when there are no reasonable arguments for it other than the assurance of an authority. Having faith does not diminish the value and dignity of the human reason, rather, it provides the person with a higher level of truth and reality that would somehow complete and perfect human reasoning. In simple words, faith is like what the woman in the gospel did, sure and insistent that Jesus would cure her sick daughter.
      Anyone could have a great faith. He/she needs to accept the truth and fact that God is the Lord, and we are simply His creatures; that this loving God wants to save everyone from total destruction. What one needs to do is simply call on God, accept Him as Lord of his life and trust in His words and worship and serve Him in love. This is done concretely by becoming a faithful member in the Church that God has established on earth through Jesus and His apostles and the Sacraments offered by this Church. Moreover, the believer lives and acts in accordance with the life and teaching of Jesus and His Church in his daily works and activities, assuring him of salvation.

Faith’s reward
By Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS

      One of the reasons Mrs. Perfidia works so hard is she wants to buy a new car.  “Samahan mo ng tamang dasal para mas madali mong makuha ang gusto mo,” said her close friend, Mrs. Aviar, a bible-believing matron who seems to have found the perfect formula for making God listen to her prayers.  Mrs. A added that Mrs. P should “have faith” and describe what she is praying for—if it’s a car, state the exact color (not just “blue” but sky blue, cobalt blue, electric blue, whatever), the brand and model, etc.—and then “claim it”, as if it’s already hers.
      If it’s the way to get what we want, why must we drag in God into the picture, equating prayer with talking to a car salesman?  What kind of faith is that which goads us on to merely acquiring things to satisfy ourselves?  Even atheists or car thieves can get the car of their dreams without “praying” for it and “claiming” it. 
      The faith of the woman described in today’s gospel story is different—first, she asks not for a luxury item but for healing; second, she asks not for herself but for another person; third, she perseveres even when our Lord seems deaf to her pleas.  Sometimes, in our ignorance, we lose our faith when God doesn’t give us what we are asking for.  But faith is tested precisely by the unavailability of the thing or the state asked for.  When we continue to believe in God, in His goodness and love for us despite His deafness and neglect of us—that is faith.  And always, it is rewarded in ways we never imagine we could ever be blessed with.  

Sunday, August 13, 2017

'O you of little faith, why did you doubt?'

+ RWS 768 August 13, 2017, 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Having doubts
By Bishop Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB, DD

            Having doubts is one of the common experiences we humans go through, which we try to drive out of our life. We feel we are not standing on solid ground when we are in doubt. We feel paralyzed not knowing what to do when our mind and reason seem clouded with uncertainties. Such human situation could put our life in danger, and our work unclear. We, therefore, need to diminish, or remove completely any tinge of doubt also in our daily life and work.
            Jesus told Peter, who entertained some doubt about his safety even when the Lord “stretched his hand and caught Peter” to have faith—faith in Him! Jesus would tell each human being to believe in Him and be saved from all kinds of evil. Believing in Jesus does not happen and should not be done only once in our lifetime. Having faith in the Lord involves every moment of our existence when we consciously accept that all of what we are depends on His power, and that we do every act, like our daily tasks and works, for Him and because of Him. We work as if our Boss is the Lord, doing our task with everything we’ve got, in order to please Him. Believing in Jesus is like seeing Him in our home, in the workplace, in every person we live and work with, and in every event in our daily life. This attitude of believing and the virtue and habit of faith displaces any doubt which disturbs us in the performance of our work and in maintaining a good relationship with others. After all, Jesus is always ready to save you and me.

Ditch your doubts 
By Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS

      Today’s gospel is particularly empowering.  It teaches us the value of believing like children.  My mother (deceased) loved to tell and retell an incident that happened when I was not quite two years old.  She was in the garden when she saw me clambering on the window sill on the second floor.  Nearing panic mode, she cried to me, “Jump!  Jump!”, stretching her arms up to catch me.  She said I managed to sit on the sill and hold on to the post (our ancestral house was of Spanish architecture, with “barandillas” and a central post for the very wide windows), and was getting ready to jump into her arms when an older brother grabbed me from behind in time.
      I think this little story best illustrates a child’s doubt-free state of mind.  A child simply obeys what the voice of authority commands for she is too innocent to worry.  An adult reasons and tends to have doubts—What if I can’t?  What if it hurts?  What if I look like a fool?—and so hesitates in spite of prodding from the divine.
      It would be a pity to live a life of doubt, always haunted by fears, bitterness, failures, and painful memories that have steadily robbed us of the ability to trust in ourselves.  Like Peter who started to sink the moment he feared the winds, we, too, can sink into negativity if we do not learn to live in the presence of God, to believe in His love, to ditch our doubts, to forgive and move on.

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.