Saturday, October 31, 2015

Building up communion today

WITH the celebration of the Solemnity of All Saints, we
are vividly reminded that we are meant to live in communion of saints,
since whether we like it or not, whether we are aware of it or not, we
are all creatures and children of God who are expected to form part of
the people and family of God.
            This is made possible because we are first of all human
persons, created in the image and likeness of God, capable of entering
into a more intimate relation with God and others than what others can
do. Besides, God gives us the grace so that we can go beyond our
natural limitations to be able to enter into the very life of the
infinitely supernatural God.
            As human persons, we are meant to enter into communion,
first with God, and then with everybody else. That we are endowed with
intelligence and will indicates that we are not just meant to be
lumped together the way material and physical things are put together,
nor the way plants and animals come together.
            We are supposed to enter also into the mind and heart of
God and of everybody else. Our togetherness is not just a matter of
physical union. Neither is it a matter of emotional affinities, or
other merely human kinship, whether cultural, historical, social,
political, etc. Thus, we have to be wary when we become mainly reliant
on these factors.
            The communion meant for us is that of the mind and heart.
It is a communion of spirit with its corresponding morals that would
know how to put together in some organic whole all the differences and
conflicts so characteristic of our human condition here on earth.
            To be sure, the communion meant for us is not a matter of
uniformity. A rich and great variety of differences, whether they be
personal, natural, or even moral and spiritual, can be compatible with
this communion as long as we know how to handle them.

             And that can only mean that we relate everything to God,
our Father and Creator, who is the very source, keeper, pattern and
power of unity and communion. Short of that, our unity and communion
would at best be only apparent, and at worst, false, deceptive and
dangerous, prone to be manipulated by our own weaknesses, if not by
malice and sin, and the tricks of the devil.
            With God, these differences and conflicts that are
unavoidable in our life can, in fact, be a strong motive for loving
one another more and thus building up unity and communion, rather than
a cause of hatred and division among ourselves.

             We have to actively build up this communion meant for us
by seeing to it that we acknowledge and welcome God in our lives, that
we obey his will and ways that are full of wisdom and truth, goodness
and love, understanding, compassion and mercy.
            He is the one who knows what to do with whatever situation
and predicament we may be in. And what is impossible with us is always
possible with him. His ways would know how to handle our weaknesses,
mistakes, failures and sins. They go much farther than what our human
efforts—personal, political, economic, etc.—can accomplish.
            Of course, we should not forget that following God’s will
and ways will always involve the cross, the cross of Christ, since our
wounded human condition needs Christ’s cross. We should avoid the
illusion that we can have this communion proper to us by avoiding the
cross. We need to be ready to accept this reality.

            In these times when we see a lot of division, if not a
growing fragmentation in the world that is due in large part to the
technological developments and the growing population that generates
multiplying differences in social, economic, political and even
ideological statuses, we need to be more active in building up this
communion that is proper to us.
            We should not take this concern for granted, but rather
consider it as one primordial duty we have, especially today. Since we
already know in theory the whys and wherefores, the source and goal of
this concern, we need to develop the relevant attitudes and skills.
            We have to learn to pray, to ask God always for light,
guidance and strength, and to develop the appropriate human virtues to
correspond to the divine gifts of faith, hope and charity. This can
mean virtues like humility, fortitude, patience, meekness and
simplicity, friendliness, mercy and compassion, etc.
            It would be good if from time to time, we examine

ourselves whether we are progressing in building up communion.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Glorious and somber November

NOVEMBER begins with the celebration of the Solemnity of
All Saints and the Commemoration of All Souls. These celebrations
remind us of the wonderful reality that our life is not just limited
by our earthly space-and-time existence, but has other dimensions that
we often take for granted.

             They remind us of the glorious reality of the communion of
saints that is meant for all of us, since we are all children of God,
and the Christian meaning of earthly suffering and death that while
sobering is also uplifting, since these serve for our purification and
ultimate redemption.
            We have to be wary of our tendency to get stuck to the
here and now, and to be so immersed in the drama and game of our
earthly life that we fail to realize there is a lot more than what we
have here, what we do and say now, what we are at present.

             We may create all sorts of problems and chaos in this
life, all kinds of ugliness. But, hey, there is hope! Christ has
redeemed us with his death! Sin and death have their sting removed.
Let us learn to see beauty in all the chaos and ugliness of our
present, and attain redemption in our seemingly hopeless predicament.

             Let’s remember that Christ’s all-powerful and never-fading
work of redemption that culminated on the cross, can take on anything
that we say, do or are, whether it is something good or something bad.

             What is simply needed at the very least is our openness to
the merits of Christ’s redemptive work by not putting obstacles to
them or resisting his will and commandments. Better, if we actively
follow God’s will. We may still commit errors, but if done in good
faith, there is still hope. Christ will repeat what he said just
before he died: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they
            No, death definitely does not have the last word. It’s
life, everlasting life with God in heaven, or God forbid, eternal
condemnation in hell. Neither are pain and suffering the main
ingredient or the ultimate goal of our earthly life. It’s joy, peace,
victory, success, offered to us by Christ himself, our savior.
            It’s not even only life with God that we are meant for.
It’s life with everybody else, in a blessed communion of saints that
God willed for all of us from all eternity. On his part, he has given
everything that this ideal be made real. It’s now up to us to choose
to follow God’s will or not.
            These celebrations on November 1 and 2 should expand our
awareness that we belong to the family of God whose image and likeness
we are and whose children we also are. As such, we are not meant to
live in time alone, but also in eternity, not here on earth alone, but
also in heaven.
            We need to be more aware of our duty to seek sanctity in
the middle of our earthly concerns. Even more, we need to be skillful
in carrying it out. This duty, in so many words, is combining our
earthly concerns with our eternal goal.
            There is nothing in our life that cannot be sanctifiable.
What matters is that we relate everything to God, whether it is
something good, for which we ought to be thankful, or something bad,
for which we have to be sorry.
            Even our sins, if repented, can be a tremendous trigger
for grace to be showered on us. We, of course, should try to avoid sin
which is actually a matter of increasing our love for God and for
            We need to be clear about these fundamental truths, so we
be guided properly in our life, making the right choices, since our
life is also not a matter of fate or luck, but rather of choice, first
that of God who chooses to love us in spite of whatever, and that of
ours. But we have to learn to choose properly.
            Whatever situation we may find ourselves in, including the
worst scenarios possible to our human, earthly condition, we can
always manage to find joy and peace if we allow ourselves to be guided
by our Christian faith, rather than by just our human estimation of
            So as we visit the tombs of our loved ones, let’s remember
these fundamental truths that give the proper perspective to our life
and everything in it, including our predicaments. These truths would
shed on us the light for our life, and would reveal to us the glory

awaiting us.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fathoming God’s mercy

POPE Francis has been talking, almost ad nauseam, about
mercy and compassion. That seems to be the distinctive thrust of his
pontificate, and it is taking the world by storm.

            That’s because people today appear to be tired of hearing
what is right and wrong, and more so when they are told off with
condemnations and anathemas. They prefer to hear consoling words of
mercy and compassion, and the Pope is giving these to them in
abundance and with a flair for drama.

            I remember an Arab acquaintance who is not Catholic but is
married to one. He told me that he liked Pope Francis a lot because
the Pope is succeeding in relating himself well with the ordinary
people in the rawness of their actual conditions.

            This Pope, he said, talks to the heart of the people. He
does not scare them with highfalutin ideas, my Arab acquaintance
continued. He seems to have a likeable heart without detracting, of
course, from the brain, the Arab opined.

            I must say that I felt a bit uncomfortable with these
observations, because in the first place I don’t like to compare
Popes. I strongly believe that each has his own charism, given by God
for the good of all, and has been chosen to address a particular need
in some period of the life of the Church.

            I believe that the differences among the Popes are not
supposed to lead us to make judgments as to whether who is better than
the other, etc. I consider such exercise idle and dangerous.

            Of course, I agree that Pope Francis has managed to move
many hearts once frozen into indifference if not unbelief and
hostility. But we also have to listen to some sectors that have
certain reservations about this style of Pope Francis. Some of these
reservations are even expressed by highly placed ecclesiastics who are
equally concerned about what is truly good for the Church.

            There are those who say that this emphasis on mercy and
compassion tends to undermine truth and justice, that is, the very
teaching of Christ himself. That delicate issue, for example, of
allowing the divorced and remarried to receive communion—an issue that
was taken up in the recently concluded synod—is a case in point.

            To this fear expressed by some, the Pope has reassured us
that nothing of the sort is happening or is going to happen. He will
stick to what the previous Magisterium has already taught and
explained. He will be faithful, but at the same time open to new
things, as the Spirit prompts.

            This is what I think the Holy Father is trying to
accomplish. He is asking us to fathom some more the scope and range of
God’s mercy and compassion that obviously will involve a lot of
mystery that we need to unravel little by little. We have to be ready
for the God of surprises also.

            This, of course, is not going to be an easy task. It will
demand a lot of sacrifice, and prayer, and study and discussion and
consultation, etc. That’s why the Pope called for a synod, for one,
and has been asking everyone involved to open up with what he called
as parrhesia, that is, with candor.

            This is what is needed these days. We cannot be complacent
with what we, as of now, know is right and is clearly part of the will
of God for us. Let’s remember that what we know, even if we consider
it already to be very significant, is nothing compared with what we
still do not know, and much less, live. We should never be

            Let’s put complete trust in the thrust of Pope Francis. He
wants us to be bold and most prompt to discern the biddings of the
Holy Spirit who obviously can lead us to new horizons, new frontiers
and to still uncharted waters.

            Obviously, this exercise has to be done with utmost care
and caution, and out of prudence, should somehow be restricted and
limited first to those who truly are competent to handle it.

            It’s not for everyone to take active part, as of now.
Perhaps what everyone else can do to help is to pray and offer a lot
of sacrifices, and of course to do some study also so we can be more
enlightened about the issues involved.

            Perhaps, this is where I can put my two-cents—that Pope
Francis also would be more circumspect in making pronouncements so as
to avoid unnecessarily stirring the fears of some sectors that are not

yet ready to embark in this divine adventure.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Simply over

MEDIA is funny. Obviously, not all the time, but I must
say, very many times.

            A public thing and invested with the sublime and delicate
duty to report the truth in the highest standards of objectivity and
fairness, it plays a precarious role as it has to contend with a swarm
of demons, both big and small.

            It has to gather data and make stories everyday, verify
the facts, process them for presentation, hope that they attract
attention and sell. Deadlines have to be set and met, and the balance
sheet should be in the black, not red. It’s both public service and
business, and the right blend has to be discovered.

            It’s this nature and character of its work that gives rise
to the possibility of shallow, incomplete, one-sided reporting, and
the often irresistible temptation to indulge in sensationalism and
other gimmicks to grab attention from people.

            There’s always the tendency to improvise, to exaggerate,
to emit instant, not well-thought-out knee-jerk reactions to news
events. The line between straight news and opinion, between reporting
and taking sides is often blurred.

            And worse things can happen, as questionable ideological
motives and hidden agenda of some media practitioners can come in,
coloring the media’s perspectives. This has happened before. It
continues to happen today.

            How many times some of us, who have the inside track of a
particular story, would say the reporting did not hit it bull’s eye In
fact, often we would say not only was it incomplete, but it already
contained distortions and biases if not outright lies and malice.

            For sure, this is not unique only to the media. Everyone
of us is subject to more or less the same constraints, limitations and
pressures. But the media suffers them a lot more. We therefore have to
understand it more. We have to help it in any way we can.

            But those in media should undertake a rigorous and abiding
sense of self-examination and checking. It’s nice to know that many
outfits have installed appropriate offices of the ombudsman and the
like to carry out this internal task. We just hope they fulfill their
duties well.

            I remember when the Church a few years ago was enmeshed
with a good number of allegations of sex scandals involving some
members of the clergy in some countries, I got the impression that the
media was making things worse not only for the Church but actually
also for everyone.

            Clearly, the scandals were serious. They cried to heaven
for justice. And the Church authorities were doing their best to
grapple with the issue. It was crucifixion time for the Church.

            There were clear attempts to corner the Pope himself then
in these scandals. And other wild accusations and claims were made.
Someone even made the suggestion that because of these scandals,
religion should also be eliminated. Religion only distracts us from
our real problems, he said.

            That was truly an overkill! It was simply over.

            I thought the world was big enough to accommodate all
sorts of people, and we just had to learn to be tolerant with each
other, no matter how different and in conflict our views might be. But
no. The press, portions of it, seemed to give normality to some
intolerant voices.

            It looked like the press delighted in engaging in
nitpicking and fault-finding. There seemed to be some kind of feeding
frenzy over the Church predicament, a gloating over the pains and
hurts of an entity with long standing in the world.

            Things were made to appear as if the Church had absolutely
nothing good to offer to mankind, that it had always been a villain, a
fox dressed in sheep’s clothing. The turn of events seemed to reveal
an agenda to destroy the Church. I suspect there was a powerful group
behind all this.

            I always thought it was most unkind to kick someone when
he was already down and in agony. But it seemed this perversion is now
the new normal promoted by some parts of the media, especially the
foreign ones, that unashamedly showed fangs and claws and spat
cobra-like venom everywhere.

            On one hand, I was amused to watch all these developments.
It was funny to see a kind of combat between two different parties,
acting on two different levels, using different weapons, and aiming at
different objectives. It was a terrible mismatch.

            On the other hand, I sank into pity and sadness to realize
this happened in our supposedly knowledgeable and already mature world
of ours.

            We all need to get a good grasp of this kind of situation!

Monday, October 26, 2015

A taste for the supernatural

I WAS amused when I recently read an article of an
American columnist. Commenting on the state of politics in the States
today, he said, “We are living in an age when what you say and its
relation to facts is completely irrelevant.”

            Yes, I know the comment was dripping with cynicism, but I
somehow cannot help but nod in agreement, at least, in some instances.
Even here, looking at all the posturing and listening to the pompous
words and promises of politicians, I can’t help but see the gaping
disconnect between the assertions and facts, between words and deeds.

            But I would like to paraphrase those words and put them in
another level. What we are also seeing these days all over the world
is the great disconnect between our daily life and the supernatural
life we are supposed to have. This is the graver predicament all of us
are in, and a greater challenge to face. Let’s hope that we are more
aware of this fact and more concerned about it.

            We are meant for a supernatural life. Our human nature,
with our spiritual soul that enables us to know and to love, and
therefore to enter into the lives not only of others but also and most
importantly, of God, urges us to develop a supernatural life.

            It’s a life with God always. It just cannot be exclusively
our own life, taken personally or collectively. It’s a life that
depends mainly on God who gives us the grace that purifies and
elevates it to his, but it also depends on us, on our freedom to
correspond to this loving will of God for us.

            We have to develop a taste and even an appetite for the
supernatural life with God and of things supernatural in general. In
this we have to help one another, because in the end, this is our
common ultimate end in life—how to live our life with God, how we can
be immersed in God even as we are immersed also in the things of the

            We have to help one another wean ourselves from the
exclusive dependence on sensible, material and even merely
intelligible circumstances of our life. Yes, it’s true that we cannot
avoid them, since they are an integral part of our humanity. In fact,
we need them. But let’s understand that they are not the be-all and
end-all of our life. At best, they are means, tools and occasions to
develop our supernatural life with God.

            We have to understand also that our supernatural life does
not in any way nullify our humanity, and everything related to it—our
senses, emotions, our family and professional, social, political life,
etc. If anything at all, it promotes these aspects of our life,
purifies them and elevates them to the supernatural order of God.

            We have to disabuse ourselves from the thinking, now so
common in many worldly ideologies and lifestyles, that the
supernatural life undermines our humanity. Yes, there might be some
awkwardness involved, especially in the beginning, but such problems
and difficulties do not detract from the objective necessity we have
to develop a supernatural life.

            The same with the suspicion that the concern for the
supernatural life would make us self-centered, detached from the
things of the world. If we truly are with God, we cannot help but be
immersed with the things of the world, just as God sent his son to the
world to save us.

            We have to know what is involved in developing a taste for
the supernatural and the supernatural life itself. It involves the
whole range of the divine gifts of faith, hope and charity that
actually are given to us in abundance. They are all available,
practically all there for the taking.

            This definitely would require from us certain practices,
spiritual in nature, to make use of the richness of these faith, hope
and charity gifts of God to us. We have to learn how to pray, to offer
sacrifices, to have recourse of the sacraments, to undertake a
continuing formation regarding our human, spiritual, doctrinal,
professional and apostolic aspects of our life.

            We have to wage a lifelong ascetical struggle to develop
virtues, and to handle our weaknesses, temptations and the mistakes,
failures and sins that we for sure commit at one point or another.

            We should do all this with a lot of hope and optimism,
deeply convinced that more than our effort, it is God who guarantees
the success of this enterprise as long as we also do our part.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

God and our “sexual rights”

THE recent proliferation of non-governmental organizations
(NGOs) is a most welcome development since they facilitate our life in
society. With them, the requirements of the principles of subsidiarity
and solidarity, so essential in society, are more finely met.

            Subsidiarity is when a bigger entity can delegate some of
its powers to a lower entity. It’s also when the smaller needs of men
in society are met due to the presence of more intermediaries between
the individual citizens and the over-all state authorities.

            Solidarity is when society becomes more organized and
moves more or less in the same direction without annulling legitimate
differences and variety of sectors comprising it. It means having
better working unity in society.

            The NGOs are these agents and intermediaries that foster
the need for subsidiarity and solidarity in a given society. We just
have to make sure that a third social principle, that of the common
good, is also met, so that the play of the principles of subsidiarity
and solidarity gets into the right groove.

            This is the problem we often encounter these days with
respect to the NGOs. Many of them, I’m afraid, are a cover to advance
an agenda whose idea of common good is at best inadequate, often
dangerous, if not utterly wrong.

            The other day, someone told me that in a Congress hearing,
a representative of an NGO was batting for sexual rights, saying that
everyone has a “right to a satisfying and safe sex.”

            While it’s true that we are a sexual being, and therefore
sex has a legitimate part in our life, we just can’t be naïve when
ideas like what was presented in that Congress hearing is proposed to

            We need to see if indeed this “right to a satisfying and
safe sex” truly corresponds to an objective common good meant for us.
We have to know what that right involves, what its inspiration and
true purpose are, etc.

            We just cannot say anything is a human right based on an
opinion or even on a consensus of some people. We cannot even consider
a culture and civilization as the ultimate source of what is the
authentic common good for us and what is not. They are not the
ultimate terra firma. They shift too like sand, and can contain

            The crux of our problem is that in determining our common
good, any mention to God is immediately or, worse, automatically
rejected. It’s as if God has no place in this discussion. It’s as if
God is the very antithesis of democracy and its ways and processes.

            At best, any reference to God has to be veiled, since
making it explicit is considered a fallacy of begging the question. It
is feared it would illegitimately stop further discussion or
reasoning, which is not true, since such reference would in fact throw
the doors open for further scrutiny. It fosters more discussion.

            We need to make a drastic change in our attitude and ways
of determining if a claimed human right is indeed part of our common
good. We have to defer to what the Compendium of Social Doctrine says
about the source of human rights.

            In point 153, it says, “The ultimate source of human
rights is not found in the mere will of human beings, in the reality
of the State, in public powers, but in man himself and in God his

            So, it’s clear that no matter how hard it is to determine
what is God’s will and design for us, we just have to make an effort
to know God’s will, since ignoring it would just put us in the dark,
and lead us to unjust ways of determining what is right and wrong,
what is good and evil, true and false.

            In short, it would not be democratic, in fact, if our
political ways would systematically shun the contribution of religion,
or that our discussion of issues that affect our common good would
exclude faith and religion, and everything involved there, like
listening to the teachings of the Church, etc.

            In that set-up, democracy would be understood as just a
purely human affair, as if everything begins and ends with us. Of
course, we are the primary actors in democracy, but we are nothing
without God who is our source, our Creator, and in fact, also our end.

            Democracy, without God, would lose its foundations and
sense of purpose, and would just be driven not by truth nor by love,
but by sheer and brazen human power. That’s when human rights enter
the crisis zone.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Passion for holiness and apostolate

“I HAVE come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it
were already blazing!” (Lk 12,49)

            With these words, Christ expresses the consuming passion
and zeal he has to carry out his mission on earth. It’s the same
passion and zeal that we should try our best to cultivate and keep.

            It’s what is proper to us. We are meant to be passionate,
because we simply have passions that need to be used to the hilt. They
just cannot be left idle and open to anything. They need to be
properly grounded and oriented.

            Reflecting Christ’s passionate character is what orders
and integrates into an organic whole all the other passions we will
always have, at one point or another, with respect to our human and
earthly affairs and concerns.

            This is the passion for holiness and apostolate that
actually is the be-all and end-all of our life here on earth. Let’s
never forget what God told Moses: “Speak to the whole Israelite
community and tell them, Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.”
(Lev 19,1)

            Christ reiterated the same message when he clearly said:
“Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” (Mt 5,48)
understanding ‘perfect’ as loving everyone with nothing less than the
love of God for us as lived and shown to us by Christ.

            In other words, the passion that we should develop should
be the passion and zeal for holiness and apostolate. This pair can
never be separated, since holiness by definition involves not only
loving God but also loving others with God’s love. Holiness will
always be apostolic. It necessarily involves entering into the lives
of others for God.

            And before we get some strange ideas about this truth of
our faith, like, it is too fantastic, undoable, if not inhuman, etc.,
we need to reassure ourselves that this is the passion that would
actually make us fully human, fully Christian, children of God,
perfect image and likeness of God.

            As to its practicability, we cannot have any doubt about
it, since God, for his part, is giving us everything for it to take
place. He has sent his Son who became man to us. And this God-man,
Jesus, died on the cross in his supreme act of self-giving to us.
Nothing is spared to make us to be what we ought to be.

            On our part, we have been wired and equipped for this
passion for holiness and apostolate. With our intelligence and will,
and always activated by God’s grace, we can enter into the life of God
himself, and the lives of others.

            While we retain our individual and personal identity, we
can get identified too with God and with others. This is the
tremendous wonder of our life—that in spite of our weakness, mistakes
and sins, we are still, as St. Augustine would put it, “capax Dei,”
capable of God. And if we are capable of loving God, then we too must
be capable of loving others.

            We just have to know how to integrate in that passion for
holiness and apostolate the indispensable role of the cross of Christ.
That cross is the necessary cure for our weaknesses and what would
make up for our mistakes, failures and sins. That cross is where we
can truly find Christ.

            When Christ said that he is the “way, the truth and the
life,” he must have the cross in mind, since in another part of the
gospel, he clearly said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny
themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mt 16,24)

            We have to learn to make the cross, in whatever form it
comes, an integral and essential part of our daily life. We should not
wait for it to come. We have to look for it everyday, and in every
circumstance. We actually need it more than we need air.

            And when it comes without our looking for it, let’s be
quick to identify it with the Cross of Christ. Let’s not waste time
suffering our life’s crosses purely on our own. We need to suffer them
with Christ. Everything needs to be referred to Christ on the cross.

            Then there would be nothing in our life that would prevent
us from pursuing holiness and apostolate with passion. Not even our
sins can weaken that passion. When referred to Christ’s cross, our
mistakes, failures and sins can become tremendous spurs to get us
closer to God and to others.

            But we also need to live this passion with naturalness…

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The poor as the new elite

WE have to be most careful that in our laudable effort to
love the poor, we end up making them the new elite, and the rich guys
end up prematurely judged and condemned, ostracized and left to rot
here on earth even before hell.

             This can happen when our understanding of the poor is
mainly if not solely keyed on material poverty. Thus, we consider as
poor those with hardly any money, or those whom we generally describe
as having less in life, be it in terms of material possessions and
wealth, health, fame, talents, etc.
            The problem with this idea of poor is that we tend to
exaggerate things and fall to making unnecessary if not illegitimate
distinctions among people. We end up unnecessarily discriminating
against some people who are rashly judged and classified simply and
recklessly according to their economic status, etc.

             This has happened among those who blindly follow the
so-called “Liberation Theology” that while having good and valid
points, end up following a certain earthly ideology instead of
            In fact, back in 1984, the Vatican issued a document
entitled, “Instruction on certain aspects of the Theology of
Liberation,” precisely to clarify what the good and safe points of
such theology are, and what the unsafe and dangerous ones are.

             The poor is actually all of us, since all of us are in
need of God. That’s how poverty should be understood in its strictest
sense. That’s why Christ put as the first beatitude those who are
“poor in spirit” because they are the ones who acknowledge their
poverty with regard to God and are longing to be with God.
            If we understand “the poor” in this way, it can happen
that the poorest of the poor can in fact be the richest man in the
world, in terms of material wealth, because that man may be farthest
from God and may not be doing anything to solve his predicament. It
can happen that the poorest of the poor is not in the peripheries and
fringes of our society, but is right in the middle of society’s
            Now that we are in the Year of the Poor, we need to be
clear about this point, before we fall into the subtle trick of the
devil who can mislead us in our attitude toward the poor.
            Let’s remember that the weed can actually look like the
real plant, and the devil can present himself as an angel of light. We
have to be most discerning. We should not be naïve, especially
nowadays when many confusing and albeit attractive ideologies about
the poor are bombarded on us.
            It’s true that we have to give a kind of “preferential
option” to those who are materially poor, precisely because their
needs may be immediate. We cannot deny that there will always be some
kind of social inequality that causes this kind of poverty. Thus,
Christ told us: “You always have the poor with you, but you will not
always have me.” (Mt 26,11)
            Such inequality should trigger the dynamics and initiative
of concern and help. St. John in his first letter tells us: “If anyone
has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need yet closes his
heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (3,17)
            We also cannot deny that there are instances when we find
ourselves at a loss as to how to help the poor in immediate material
needs. Many times, we can only cry and suffer in silence, praying hard
and thinking deeply as to how to restructure things that give rise to
this kind of social poverty. Let’s be ready for these occasions and
exert effort not to fall into despair. There’s always hope in the
mysterious ways of God.
            But this particular concern for the poor in immediate
material need, however, should not distract us from the ultimate
concern for the poor in the strictest and universal sense. We should
not forget that the ultimate concern is how to resolve the spiritual
and moral poverty of the people, i.e., how to combat temptations and
            This is where the real battle is. It is how to convince
the rich young man in the gospel (cfr Mt 1916-30), who actually
represents all of us, to go sell everything that he has and follow
Christ. It is how to undo what Christ said: “It is easier for a camel
to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the
kingdom of God.”
            We can only do this if we have the right poverty of spirit
as described in the beatitudes.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Everything is relatable to God

THIS we should remember always. Everything in our life, in
the different aspects and dimensions of our life, and in the different
possibilities and scenarios our life can take, irrespective of whether
they are good or bad humanly or naturally speaking, or even
spiritually and supernaturally speaking, can and should be related to
God who knows what to do with them.
            We should avoid the pitfall of thinking that there are
certain things and situations, certain concerns, issues and affairs in
our life where God has no role to play. God is in everything. His
interventions in our life are constant and abiding, and are meant to
lead everything to him who is the beginning and end of all things.
            His providence is both immediate and eternal, direct and
transcendent, and as such, he infuses his wisdom and power, his truth
and justice, his mercy and compassion, etc. into everything in our
            Our part is at least to be aware of this reality and to
cooperate with his providence as much as we can, since we are his
image and likeness. We need to spark our faith into action and to keep
it working as much as possible, because only through faith can we
enter into this sublime reality and play the role proper to us.
            As Creator, God cannot withdraw his presence and
governance in all of his creation. And that’s simply because as
Creator, God gives and keeps the very existence of everything he has
            He does not only make things and then leave them behind,
as if these things can have their independent existence, as happens
when we make things. God as Creator cannot leave us, since he is the
very source, support and end of our existence.

             Without him, we revert to nothing. And if we think we can
be on our own without God, then we would just be left to our own
devices, and our estimations of what is true, good and beautiful in
life, of what is the source and purpose of our life would actually
have no objective and radical basis. Everything will be subjective.
            We have to learn to detect the presence of God, to know
his will and to cooperate with his ways. We have to learn to look for
him and find him, even in the most ordinary things in our life.

             As St. Josemaria Escriva once said: “There is something
holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it
is up to each of you to discover it.” God is everywhere. A psalm
describes this truth well: “If I go up the heavens, you are there. If
I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” (139.8)

             We cannot say that in our intellectual and creative work,
for example, when we do a lot of discoveries and inventions, God is
not there. Neither in our business and politics, in our sports and
entertainment, could we say God is not there.

             The independence and autonomy we enjoy in our earthly
affairs does not mean that God is not involved in them. God is the
author and the lawgiver of our independence and autonomy, and he is
right in the middle of all these affairs.
            The least thing we can do in this regard is to acknowledge
God as the ultimate author of what we discover and invent, and of what
we get involved in, and then to thank him for them.

             And from there, we can try to discern the purpose God has
in our discoveries and inventions, and in all our earthly and temporal
affairs. Otherwise, we would just end up misusing and abusing them. We
end up corrupted and corrupting others.

             Especially in situations of crisis, challenges, issues,
and yes, grave mistakes and sin, we need to realize more deeply that
we have to relate them to God. Doing so will make us see the objective
picture of these things, and would enable us to grapple with them

             He has the ultimate answer to all our questions, the
ultimate cure to all our disorders, the ultimate mercy to all our
mistakes and sins. What we cannot solve humanly speaking, God always
can, in his own way.
            So, instead of keeping to ourselves when these
predicaments come our way, we should rush to him, not to renege on our
duties, but rather to be where the ultimate solution can be found.
            Our mistakes and sins should no alienate us from God. With
humility, with sorrow, they should occasion the need for us to go to