Sunday, August 26, 2012

Walang Iwanan!


The Word: Jn 6:60-69

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”  Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh  is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”



Walang iwanan ha!” (“Do not leave [me] okay!”) is a popular modern phrase commonly used by Filipinos, which basically asks the person you are speaking with, to respond with their pledge of loyalty.  For instance, a barkada (group of friends) that is about to graduate from high school would say this to one another, in fear that college life might force them to drift apart; or when an organization is about to embark on a big project, its leader would probably tell his members, “Walang iwanan ha!,” and this is tantamount to asking for their re-assurance to stick it out through thick and thin until the project is done.  He too, fears that he might be left alone when the going gets tough.

Jesus’ question, “Do you also want to leave?” may have sounded more like a challenge than a cry for help.  But behind this question, was perhaps also a plea of sorts.  Jesus knew that his disciples would have a hard time understanding his teachings.  He knew that they were a bit afraid of the consequences of being His followers. By asking this, Jesus was giving them a chance to make a stand and decide once and for all if they were with Him all the way.

In our day-to-day journey as Christians, in both small and big matters, we too are faced with this question.  We often find ourselves at a crossroads, having to decide whether we are for Christ or against Him. It may be as simple as deciding whether or not to lie about something wrong that you have done, or to give into the temptation of corruption at work everyday.  It could also be much larger-scale, like making a stand on moral issues.  In these situations, Jesus is always standing there at the intersection, ready to take you on the right path.  He is there, asking, “Are you with me, or do you want to go the other way?”  

It says in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  
Though the road may be narrow, it doesn’t automatically mean that it is a rough one.  We are usually afraid of choosing this path simply because it seems uncertain.  However, as we train ourselves to trust God more and more, we begin to discover that it’s not such a difficult road to be on after all.  We soon realize that there is much peace and quiet along this little path... “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Phil 4:7).

So the next time you are at that crossroad, firmly respond the way Simon Peter did, “We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

Sana nga, walang iwanan. (I do hope, you will not leave.)

- Fr. Randy Flores, SVD
  Divine Word Seminary – Tagaytay City

* The WORD in Other Words Bible Diary is an annual project of Logos Publications containing daily scripture readings and reflections written by priests, brothers and sisters of the congregations founded by St. Arnold Janssen (the SVD and SSps).  It hopes to serve as a daily companion to readers who continually seek the correlation of the Word of God and human experience.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Try and Try...

In the 1990's, Bill Cosby hosted a show entitled "Kids Say the Darndest Things," where Cosby would ask a question to a child (around the age of 3-8) who would usually respond in a "cute" way. [Wikipedia]

In my experience however, kids not only say the 'darndest' things, or the 'cutest' things... but in their simplicity and pureness of heart, they too, sometimes say the WISEST things.

Such was the case during one of the youth caring circles (a caring circle is a small gathering of people who pray, share the Word of God and break bread [usually] with one another) we had recently, when some members (who are mostly in their teens) expressed their concern about their on-and-off faith in God.  They said they were struggling to figure out how to make their faith stronger and become closer to Him.

Our littlest member, a shy young boy of 11, who usually asks to "pass" his turn when we go around the circle sharing our insights or reflections, quietly volunteered to share this time (well, initially he actually still "passed" but toward the end, he spoke up).

In relation to our other friends' struggles with their faith, he recalled the saying, "Try and try until you succeed."  And then he went on, saying that maybe in this case, we should change the famous line into: "TRY AND TRY UNTIL YOU BELIEVE."

Whoa...that sure blew us all away!!! :-)

“Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” - Mark 10:14-15

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ask, Seek, Knock... The Right Way!


The Word: Mt 7:7-12

Jesus said: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread,  or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.”



I've heard many people complain to God: “You're so unfair, Lord! Doesn't the Bible say, 'Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you?' Well, I've been praying for “this and that” for so many years already, but why haven't you granted my prayers until now?!”

Well, the thing with the Bible is that we shouldn't take everything too literally. Jesus himself sometimes spoke in ways that were confusing to his disciples:

“I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” - Mt 10:34 or

“They will mock him, insult him, spit on him. On the third day he will rise again.
The disciples did not understand any of this.” - Lk 18:32-34 

And so as we read and study Scripture, we have to be very discerning and learn to “read through the lines.” In today's gospel, what is unwritten and what we are left to discover for ourselves, is that God will grant our prayers only when we ASK, SEEK AND KNOCK according to His Most Holy Will! If the “this and that” which we insist on praying for will eventually harm us instead of bless us, you can be sure that God won't answer THIS prayer in THAT way.  

The gospel also says, “Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread or a snake when he asks for a fish?” In the same way, if you became greedy and asked your parents for a truckload of bread, instead of just the loaf you need, chances are, your parents will not give this to you because they know it would not be good for you. In fact the Letter of James has a warning on this:  “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures” (Jam 4:3).

And so when we say the “ask, seek, knock” prayer, we need to first bring to mind a more important lesson that God teaches us which we often sing at Sunday Mass:

“Seek ye first, the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
And all these things shall be added unto you.” – Mt. 6:33.

- Fr. Randy Flores, SVD
  Divine Word Seminary – Tagaytay City

* The WORD in Other Words Bible Diary is an annual project of Logos Publications containing daily scripture readings and reflections written by priests, brothers and sisters of the congregations founded by St. Arnold Janssen (the SVD and SSps).  It hopes to serve as a daily companion to readers who continually seek the correlation of the Word of God and human experience.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hotdog Love!

Last month, our parish had a planning session at an out of town retreat house.  As I had  already begun my 90-day meatless fast then, I was hoping that at least some of our meals at the venue would have non-meat options.  However, on the first day, it was all chicken, beef or pork from breakfast to dinner! 

But I didn't really complain -- after all, I am on this fast for a purpose.  I just found other ways to make sure I got food in my tummy: for breakfast, I had "butter asukal" (our nickname for bread with butter & sugar); for lunch, I had crab & corn soup with rice; for dinner, I put the sauce of the meat dish on my rice for flavor and ate the side veggies that came with it. :-)

The next morning, God had a very unexpected surprise for me!  At breakfast, I was happy to see that there was daing na bangus (salted and dried milkfish) on the buffet table.  I also saw some hotdogs and I think tocino or longganisa (I don't remember), but of course, I just skipped over those and proceeded to get myself some suka (vinegar).  I was happily eating my fish when the big surprise came -- one of my tablemates said that the hotdogs were actually made out of TUNA.

"Tuna hotdogs???" I thought incredulously.  I'd never heard of them before! (haha, I obviously don't watch much TV!)  I thought that maybe my friends heard the food servers wrong.  So I went back to the buffet table to ask them myself.  And they confirmed that indeed, it was a Tuna hotdog!

Gosh, that moment sure felt a lot like Christmas!!! :-)  I imagined it was God who personally served me those hotdogs on a silver platter (aka food tray)! I was so giddy-happy at this discovery, that I couldn't stop smiling all throughout my meal. I even had some reserved, in case lunch would turn out to be 'meaty' again (which it was).  

I think it's really so cool how God shows His love to us in many different ways -- and I totally love His AWESOME sense of humor! 

Monday, February 20, 2012


...not as in "relocated" or "changed posture or position" -- 
but rather, "stirred the emotions."

This is what Our Lady of Fatima did to us when she visited our parish a month ago.


St. James the Great was blessed to host the pilgrim image of Our Lady of Fatima for an overnight vigil.  Upon her arrival, many parishioners welcomed her via a motorcade which went around the various Marian grottos and schools inside Ayala Alabang -- with the final destination being of course, the church.

The school where I work, The Learning Child, was asked to be one of the route markers for this motorcade.  And so days before her arrival, we prepared some big and small white flags to wave in the air when she passed by.  

When she finally came, it was a special moment for everyone.  As we waved our flags and lit some candles, the kids sang: 

"Dear Lady of Fatima, 
we come on bended knees,
To beg your intercession,
For peace and unity..." 

People who were part of the motorcade shared with us afterward, how MOVED they were at the sight of all of our students lined up on both sides of street in front of our school, welcoming Mama Mary with big smiles and white flags all around. 


After a night of vigil and prayers, where parishioners took turns with hourly slots, it was time for Our Lady to move on to her next visit.  And so we celebrated a "Farewell Mass" at 7:30 am.  The church was jam-packed with devotees of our Blessed Mother, and that was in spite of an also filled-up church in the usual 6:20 am daily morning mass! 

From the very start of the mass, I found myself MOVED to tears!  I couldn't explain why, but the tears just kept coming, quietly flowing down my cheeks.  Then I noticed how people around me were also crying!  Women AND men alike... people both young and old -- were all simply MOVED by her loving, motherly presence.  

Throughout the whole mass, I would see from the corner of my eye, someone drawing some tissue paper out of their bags; someone wiping their eyes with the back of their hand; someone dabbing their cheeks with Kleenex.  I have never seen so many people MOVED to tears at a Eucharistic celebration!

It was overwhelming!  A beautiful, good, wonderful kind of overwhelming.  

Likewise, tears were in everyone's eyes as they carried her out of the church through the center aisle.  As she passed where I was standing, I gazed up at her and felt such joy and warmth in my heart! 

* * * * *

After the mass, I recalled what was written on the sign that was placed at the foot of her image, which stood at the front of the church, near the altar.  It read:

"Please do not touch her,
She will touch you."


Friday, November 18, 2011

Seek Ye First...

For weeks, I struggled to figure out a glitch that suddenly came upon my laptop.  Any external device I plugged into it (USB flash disk or SD card) would mysteriously become write-protected [however, the same devices would work in other laptops or computers].  I spent many long nights searching for a solution to this problem -- I checked out various forums and tried out things other people did when they too, encountered this glitch.  But I kept hitting dead ends.  They remained "write-protected." (note: my devices don't have write-protect switches on them that you could just slide back and forth, in case you're wondering).

This morning, I gave it another go; but after spending more precious minutes surfing, poking around, and ending up with the same results, I decided to finally forget it.  I was wasting too much time trying to find a solution to this problem -- I was fast approaching the fine, fine line between persistence and obsession!  And so I LET GO.  I told myself that if I can never again copy files off my laptop into an external hard drive, so be it!  I'd just have to burn everything onto DVDs! (but oh my, just the thought of this was already too taxing!)

So I proceeded to do something more productive with my time -- I began to put together a Powerpoint presentation for a group report in a Bible Study class that I attend.  I spent the next few hours looking for pictures, selecting verses, and carefully creating the presentation to the best of my abilities.  I managed to get most of it done before it was time for me to head to work.  

Before shutting down, I felt a bit of a nudge to go back to Google for the nth time and try ONE LAST TIME to search for a solution to my external device issue.  This time, I tried typing yet another set of words in the search box [I would always use different combinations of words when searching -- "how to remove write-protect," "write-protect on USB device," "how does a USB flash disk become write-protected?" etc].  Scrolling down through one of the forums I hadn't visited yet, I noticed one post that had a step-by-step instruction that looked very similar to the ones I had previously encountered... but it contained an additional step that I never saw before!!!  

With a hopeful prayer in my heart, I went ahead and tried this process -- the last step of which, was of course, to reboot my computer.  I think I literally held my breath as I waited for my computer to restart and come back on... as I plugged my [seemingly write-protected] flash disk into a port... and as I dragged a random file from my desktop to the F: drive.  VOILA!!!  It copied!!! [exhaaaaleeee]  I tried the same with another device and it also worked!

Instinctively, I bowed my head, closed my eyes and whispered, THANK YOU, GOD!  
* * *

Gosh, that sure felt like a prize from God for being diligent in the task that was set before me (the Bible Study group report thing).  For choosing to do that rather than waste time over my 'borderline-obsession.'  

Immediately, the following verse came to mind, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." - Matthew 6:33 (NASB)

Hear, hear! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

One Step at a Time

Sharing another entry from "Good Morning.... GOD" for reflection today.
October 12
"What could be overwhelming this moment?  Are you not overwhelmed when you are looking ahead, counting all the moments together instead of one at a time?  And how must these moments be lived, My child?  All at once of just one at a time?  Again you have fallen into Satan's trap.  He loves for you to see mountains, to think things insurmountable, to view all that you must do as one great unconquerable force.  But that is not the reality in My kingdom.  My reality is one task performed in My power, one moment, one step at a time.  Then on to the next and the next.  Put your priorities in order and go through them with the strength of Christ."

* * * * *

     Another timely message from our Heavenly Father for me!  Yesterday, I just concluded another semester of studies at the Divine Word School of Theology and with the sem-break up ahead, I've put together this rather massive "to do" list which I hope to achieve (or attempt at least) over this break.  Knowing that I now have extra time on my hands without a weekly Greek quiz to study for, or readings from the letters of St. Paul to read, I've naturally shifted my focus onto other things.  The ideas have been flowing and it's true, some of it can be overwhelming!  Especially since I tend to multi-task a lot and want to do everything all at once! This over-eagerness and sometimes "flightiness" usually becomes the very 'mountain' that gets in the way of things.
     So I'm glad to have read today's entry from this devotional!  It reminds me to: 
1) Take it one day / task at a time; 2) Put my priorities in order; and 3) Always make sure to hold on to Jesus' hand every step of the way and rely on HIS strength!

     No, I won't stop dreaming big dreams.
     No, I won't put away that "to-do" list.
     But I've got to make sure I keep myself grounded and do things in an orderly way... one step at a time!

"For God is not a God of disorder but of peace." - 1 Corinthians 14:33