Tuesday, December 12, 2017
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Dead spots

On a recent trip to Rome, I found out that there was no cell phone signal at the Catacombs, the underground cemetery of the early Christians. Why? Because there were many dead spots there.

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In today’s gospel (Mt. 22, 34-40), Jesus teaches us the two greatest commandments: Love of God and love of neighbor. Sad to say, for some of us, these two commandments are “dead spots” and, as it were, only love of self is in place and alive.

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Many people know of the piety and devotion of Padre Pio, or St. Pio of San Giovanni Rotondo, in the south of Italy. We had the chance to visit the little church where he would say Mass at 4 a.m. daily, and then hear the pilgrims’ confessions for another 10 to 12 hours. Beside the church stands the big hospital which Padre Pio started. Here was a man whose love for God flowed concretely as his love for others, especially the sick, the poor and suffering.

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In contrast, there are “religious” people who display their piety and closeness to the Church while leading lives contrary to simple gospel values. They can be so devotional, even emotional about God, but so impersonal and uncaring towards the plight of others, specifically the poor, the sick and the suffering.

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Today is Mission Sunday. We mourn the death of Fr. Fausto Tentorio, an Italian missionary who was murdered last October 17 in Arakan, North Cotabato. His only fault was that of proclaiming the gospel about God’s love and justice. We condemn the senseless act. Here was a man who left his home, country and family for the sake of the gospel, braving deprivation, loneliness, persecution, and even death.

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For the past 20 years, I have been living in the SVD Mission House where we welcome and send off our Filipino missionaries working overseas. It is so inspiring to hear their stories and experiences of missionary work, be it in a First World nation like Japan, or a developing country like Angola in Africa. What edifies me is their zeal and sense of mission, not to mention the joyful, humble and creative spirit in each of them.

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Please continue to pray for our 140 Filipino SVD missionaries working in about 40 countries all over the world. Your financial help for their transport, medical needs and provisions will be greatly appreciated. Please contact the SVD Mission Office (telephone 632 721-7457; fax 632 727-1160).

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Check today if you have in your life the ingredients of true faith, which are: Koinonia (communion with God and community); Diakonia (service and apostolate); and Kerygma (proclamation of the gospel by word and example).  In other words, a true Christian is not only prayerful, but must also be helpful and a sharer of the gospel. True prayer must bear fruit in real life, and real life must in turn lead to deeper prayer.

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For us Catholics, communion, service and witnessing are enhanced by Eucharistia (Eucharist) and Maria (Mary). Our Eucharistic and Marian devotion should lead us to true prayer, service and witnessing. These devotions lead us to wholeness and holiness.

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There are a lot of spas today. Did you know that the word “spa” comes from the Latin phrase “salus per aquam,” meaning. “health through water.” There is another meaning we can put forth: “salvatio per amorem,” i.e., salvation through love. Those who love God and neighbor will live a meaningful life, and will inherit eternal life.

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Speaking of neighbors, someone once said that there are only two instances when it doesn’t matter who our neighbors are—when we are born, and when we are buried. That is, in the nursery and in the cemetery. In between these two moments, many of us spend so much effort choosing, avoiding, outdoing or even discriminating against our neighbors.

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Let us say a prayer for our overseas Filipino workers who are in “diaspora” all over for reasons of employment, but who in fact are our anonymous missionaries, spreading gospel values all over the world.

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Next week we will be celebrating All Souls’ Day, to remind us of our mortality, and All Saints’ Day, to remind us of our date with eternity. But there are some people who are already dead even before they stop breathing—those who have lost meaning and purpose in life, people who have given up on hope, and on love. The worst kind of death is not in the physical sense, but that of apathy, hatred, cynicism and hopelessness that engulf one while he or she is still alive.

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Are there “dead spots” in your life? Are there areas in your life that need reviving? Are there values you need to restore or relationships that you need to look into or perhaps give a second chance? For that matter, are there those that you need to leave behind? Whichever the case may be, it should be in the direction that leads towards a more meaningful life and deeper love.

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, revive whatever love that has died within me. Amen.

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TAGS: crime, Fr. Fausto Tentorio, Killing, Religion
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