Saturday, July 29, 2017

Let’s be cheerful givers

LET’S be cheerful givers as much as we can, because
according to St. Paul, God loves them. In whatever we do or give, we
should do so without sadness or compulsion, he said. (cfr  2 Cor
9,6-7) Things have to be done freely. “Freely you have received,
freely you have to give,” Christ said. (Mt 10,8)

            We have to learn to be generous and to give not only
things but our very own selves as gifts to others. St. Paul reassures
us that if we sow sparingly we will also reap sparingly. But if we sow
bountifully, we will also reap bountifully.

            This logic echoes what Christ himself said: “Give, and it
will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together
and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure
you use, it will be measured to you.” (Lk 6,38)

            And again, “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or
sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake
will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”
(Mt 19,29)

            Let’s not be afraid to give ourselves to others as
generously as possible, without counting the cost. God cannot be
outdone in generosity, one saint said, with the abundant spiritual
fruit of his work as proof to that assertion.

            And let’s be generous without expecting any return for
others, not even some acknowledgment from them. Christ himself
practically told this to us when he said: “Take care not to perform
your righteous deeds in order that people may see them. Otherwise, you
will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.” (Mt 6,1)

            That’s right. We have to learn how to pass unnoticed while
doing a lot of good. We have to do battle with the present obsession
many people have of wanting to be seen and praised and honored.

            This will help us to have purity of intention in our good
deeds and to avoid being corrupted by worldly allurements. This will
help us to stay focused on our eternal destination which is heaven and
to avoid getting stranded in some worldly thing or place.

            When we are cheerful in our self-giving, it can only mean
that we are doing things really out of love for God and for others.
And we can have focus, eagerness and perseverance in the performance
of good things.

            This does not mean that we would avoid suffering
completely. We will always have it one way or another. But when we are
cheerful, we will always get some measure of relief. The awareness
itself that we are doing things out of love for God and for others
will always have a way of filling our heart with joy and peace.

            This generous and cheerful spirit does not contradict the
requirements of prudence, understood as prudence of the spirit and not
prudence of the flesh or worldly prudence.

            Though we may appear to be a failure according to worldly
standards, let’s be convinced that being a cheerful giver as
envisioned by St. Paul is worth all the effort.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The hidden treasure and the pearl of great price

TWO of the parables of Christ can give us precious lessons about how
we ought to prioritize things in our life. We know that we can have
many competing interests and it’s important that we have the proper
priorities in life. We have to be wary of the many conditionings that
we are exposed to these days, since they can throw us into confusion.

            These are the parables of the hidden treasure and the
pearl of great price in the Gospel of St. Matthew. (13,44-46) “The
kingdom of heaven,” Christ said, “is like treasure hidden in a field,
which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells
all that he has and buys that field.”

            Following it is a similar parable: “The kingdom of heaven
is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl
of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

            These parables find an echo in some words of St. Paul who
said: “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of
knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of
all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain
Christ…” (Phil 3,8)

            How important therefore that we realize that our first
priority should be God and our relationship with him which should be
sustained with the constant effort to know, love and serve him! We
should be ready to throw away everything else that can stand in the

            We have to make some adjustments in the way we order our
objective needs. We have to distinguish them from our subjective likes
and desires that can only be the product of some personal or social
preferences. In this we have to employ the appropriate means, the
relevant programs and operations. We should be demanding on ourselves
insofar as this matter is concerned.

            We need God first of all, and, in fact, all the time. He
is our most important objective need, much more and infinitely more
than we need air, food, rest, pleasures, etc. For without God, we are
nothing. But with him, we can have everything. That is why, St. Teresa
Avila boldly said:  “He who has God lacks nothing. God alone is

            We need to learn how to find God in everything we do or we
see, handle or get involved in. In this, we have to be pro-active. We
should not wait for some inspiration to come or some so-called
favourable or conducive circumstances to take place. We have to
actively look for him or create the occasion. We can always do this,
because God himself empowers us to do so.

            For this to happen, everyday we have to strongly set our
mind to find, love and serve God. We may have to spend time meditating
on this most important and objective need of ours, if only to know how
to uphold this basic need amid the many other needs and likes that can
undermine it.

            We should be ready to detach ourselves from anything that
can prevent us from looking for God. In this, we are expected to do
some kind of violence in the tenor of Christ’s words: “The kingdom of
heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Mt 11,12)
It’s the violence of love referred to here.

            But actually, if we have the faith, we would know how to
relate everything to God, since everything is relatable to God. They
need not be competitors of God, but rather channels to God.

            Let us ask the Holy Spirit who is always by our side,
prompting us all the time so that we can find our way to God through
our many and changing earthly concerns.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Integrity and our emotions

IT’S definitely a lifelong affair. We can never say we
already enjoy integrity in this life, because in the next breath we
would already know that we have to struggle to keep at least some
semblance of it.

            Such is our condition here in this life. The best that we
can say is that it is a dynamic thing, and that we can only have it in
a very tentative way. We have to keep fighting for it.

            Integrity is all about a sense of completeness and
wholeness as well as order, harmony, consistency, honesty, etc. All of
these we would enjoy if our first parents did not fall into sin. This
was how God created us in the beginning. But since we lost that state
of original justice, we would have to work it out with God’s help, of

            That is why we have to understand that any pursuit of this
ideal of integrity has to start and end with God. Any understanding of
integrity outside of this would already be compromised right from the
start. Being our Creator in whose image and likeness we have been
created, God is the ultimate foundation, source and goal of our

            Thus, we cannot overemphasize the need for God and the
ways we can be with God in order to have some kind of integrity in our
life. Especially in the area of the senses and emotions, we have to
learn how to discipline them and submit them to the dictates of reason
that in turn should be submitted to the impulses of our Christian
faith, hope and charity.

            St. Paul already vividly described to us the serious
predicament we are in regarding this. “I do not do the good I want,”
he said, “but the evil I do not want is what I do…I see in my members
another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to
the law of sin which dwells in my members.” (Rom 7,19.23)

            He followed this dark assessment with the following words:
“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
Then he gave his own answer: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ
our Lord!” (Rom 7,24-25)

            We need to educate our feelings and emotions to discern
the ultimate object and purpose of our life, who is God. They should
not be allowed to be simply led by the impulses of our hormones,
instincts and the many unclear trends and conditionings in the

            Our feelings and emotions have to be guided by our higher
faculties of intelligence and will that in turn should also be guided
by faith, hope and charity. They have to be trained to see God in
everything, and to be happy and even excited with Him.

            Otherwise, they would just be stranded and entangled with
the material qualities of things or with the different worldly
conditionings we have. In this way, we become insensitive to anything
spiritual, much less, supernatural realities.

            Integrity is when our feelings and emotions learn to find,
love and serve God in any situation we may be in.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


WE have to develop a life of graciousness. This means that
more than relying on our human powers and the things of nature, we
should rely on God’s grace that can do much more than what our human
powers and the things of nature can.

            We should not be surprised if by relying mainly on God’s
grace, things may appear to us as inhuman and unnatural. We just have
to be convinced that they are not. But yes, they can go beyond, but
not contradict, what our human reason can know and understand and what
can be considered by us as natural.

            A life of graciousness depends more on God’s words than on
our own reasoning. Remember Christ saying clearly: “It is written,
‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from
the mouth of God.’” (Mt 4,4)

            It’s not that we don’t need bread and everything else that
is connoted by that word. Human as we are, we will always need them.
But as children of God, we need much more than bread.

            We have to remind ourselves often of these words of
Christ, especially nowadays when we seem to be producing a lot of
things and are distancing ourselves from God and his word. We are
starting to feel that we do not need God anymore, or that we need him
less and less. We seem to get easily drunk with our own

            A life of graciousness can be described in the following
words of Christ: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye
and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one
who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the
other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over
your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into
service for one mile, go with him for two miles.” (Mt 5,38-41)

            It’s a life of full trust in God’s word that would lead us
to be patient, humble, magnanimous, merciful, etc. It’s a life that is
full of goodness, where anger, hatred, resentment, envy have no place.
It’s a life that is not afraid of suffering nor of death. It’s a life
where we always think well of the others and where we are willing to
reach out to them, even if we do not get anything in return.

            Justice, of course, can and should be pursued in this
life. But it is pursued in strict charity and truth. It is a kind of
justice that is not perturbed even if injustice is committed.

            A life of graciousness acts out all the beatitudes
articulated by Christ. It is poor in spirit, meek, pure of heart, firm
and cheerful even if persecuted and insulted, hungry and thirsty of

            As St. Peter in his first letter would put it, he does not
repay evil with evil, or insult with insult. Rather he repays evil
with a blessing. (cfr 3,9)

            It’s a life where God’s grace reigns supreme rather than
our own power and reasoning.