Moments

Just keep on loving

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The story is told about two old men having a talk at a bar. The first one said: “Hey, did you know that Christmas Day will fall on a Friday this year?” The second man said: “Really? I hope it will not be Friday the 13th!”

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Christmas day can change, but Christmas date is fixed on Dec. 25. In today’s Gospel (Mk. 12, 28-34), Jesus fixes love as the most fundamental commandment, but He further teaches us that love can be expressed in love of God, love of neighbor, and love of oneself.  Jesus teaches us that the commandment to love must start with love of God first, love of neighbor second, and love of self last.

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It would be good for us today to check if we are keeping these three commandments in our lives. It would be better for us today to check if we are keeping these three commandments according to Jesus’ gradation. In so far as we do so, we are “not far from the Kingdom of God.” In so far as we fail to do so, we are just focused on the ways of this worldly kingdom.

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Remember when we were students and how we prepared for our exams, and then how we anxiously awaited news on whether we passed or failed? We must look at life in that same way. We have the privilege, however, of knowing what questions will be asked of us when we face our Creator in our “final exams.” May we not receive a failing or incomplete grade when the final reckoning comes.

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We talk a lot about our love of God, or more so about our love of neighbor, but the truth of the matter is that many, if not most, of us really love ourselves! Love of self, the least and the last of the commandments of Jesus, is in reality our top priority—naturally. Only by God’s grace can we really and truly transcend our selfishness and pride.

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Our celebration of All Saints Day reminds us that we all are called to become saints—i.e., to live according to God’s will and to become obedient to God’s plan. Our life must be a constant effort to go beyond our weaknesses and failures toward greater holiness and selflessness. The thing is not to give up on ourselves (God does not give up on us!) and to just keep on going and just keep on loving.

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Our recent commemoration of All Souls Day reminds us, too, that life has an end. We will all die, sooner or later. Jesus tells us today that love, only love, can truly give us a meaningful life; not only that, love itself is our “ticket” to eternal life!

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Pope Benedict XVI opened last Oct. 11 the “Year of Faith.” He urged us to know our faith more. Many of our people really need not only updating but also knowledge of the basics of our faith. However, beyond understanding and professing our faith, we are all called to express and concretize our faith that bears fruit in love.

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Some months ago, an old tree beside our Mission Office began to wither, and eventually died. It was not a large tree compared to the other trees in the area, but I remember how generous and diligent it was in bearing fruits. It was also a very welcoming tree, providing a home for the birds and shade for our workers. It was kind of sad, but we had to cut it down so that it would not occupy space. Now a new tree has been planted where it once stood. It has served its purpose in life. Even in death, it left behind precious wood.

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Are you just “occupying space”? Are you just getting by? Are you just enjoying? Jesus tells us all today that life is a journey, we have a mission, and we have a final destination.

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It is always a humbling experience to go to the cemetery and read the names of people and remember them. In their silence they speak to us loudly about life and what it should be.

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The hurricane named “Sandy” that recently hit and rendered much destruction in the East Coast of the United States reminds us of the fragility and uncertainty of life. How little we are, and how fleeting are all our so-called human achievements. That is not to say that we are unimportant. All we are pointing out is the futility and emptiness of too much thought of self-importance, vainglory, and pride.

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With Christmas just around the corner, let us start planning how to make the season meaningful and beautiful not only for ourselves but also for the people around us. It’s downloading time! Let’s download our sins, bad habits, and unhappy relationships. It’s also time to clean up and get rid of excess baggage and share these with the less fortunate. Share a load! Yes, let us make our love real and concrete.

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“People who love each other fully and truly are the happiest people in the world.  They may have little, they may have nothing, but they are happy people. Everything depends on how we love one another.” (Mother Teresa)

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Cramming is not advisable for final exams. Don’t wait for the “last two minutes”! Payback time now: Love now!

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, help me to love, and to just keep on loving. Amen.

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