Strengthening the family


The story is told about a teacher who asked his students: “If K9 refers to the family or offspring of dogs, what family or offspring does K10 refer to?” One student stood up and said:  “K10? Cats, ma’am!”

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Today (Sunday) is the Feast of the Holy Family. Thank God for family. Let us preserve and protect the family from anything or anyone that would destroy it, the very foundation of our society and nation. Family is not just about offspring. It is about parents and children united in love and where God’s presence abides.

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In today’s Gospel (Lk. 2, 41-52) we hear of the distress of Joseph and Mary when they realized that they have lost the Child Jesus, and their untold joy when they finally found Him in the temple. Every member of the family, good or bad, is precious. May we not appreciate their person and presence only when they are already gone or about to go.

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We salute parents who give and do their very best to raise their children so that like the Child Jesus, the children advance “in wisdom and age, and favor before God and men.” Parents, take a bow. Only God knows what you have gone through and what you go through to bring forth and raise good children. Mabuhay po  kayo!

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“Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s House?” Parents, be reminded today that no matter how much you love them, your children belong to God more than to you. They have a personal relationship and mission for God, which must not be hindered. One of the greatest lessons parents must learn is letting go and letting God.

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On the other hand, the Boy Jesus reminds children today to be obedient to one’s parents. It pays to be obedient. How many problems and miseries could have been avoided if only we obeyed our parents!

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Here’s wishing parents that the love they give to their children return to them a hundredfold. It is so painful to hear stories about parents who, in their old age, are neglected or altogether abandoned by their children.

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On my way to a dawn Mass near the railroad tracks in Sampaloc, Manila, last Dec. 21, I stopped to talk to Lola Nemesia who was rummaging through the garbage to earn a living to somehow help her two children and their families, she said. I mean, this was being done by a 68-year-old at 4:00 in the morning! She joined the Mass and soon after the Mass, I saw her go back to her business of earning a living for her family again.

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We have often said that we should not postpone loving our loved ones especially at Christmas because we don’t know if we will still be around next Christmas. I realized this concretely when driving to my 5 a.m. dawn Mass in Lourdes Hospital last Dec. 19; I was almost bumped from behind by a car driven by a drunk driver. I mean, anything could have happened right there and then. After hearing the loud screech of tires, and realizing I was unharmed, I pulled over to the side, and said a prayer of thanks, and saw a young man overtake me and just drive on by. Just like that.

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Sitting at the back of San Sebastian Church yesterday (Saturday) after a wedding, my mind went back to the time when I would spend some moments in the church while waiting for our worn-down surplus jeep to fetch me from school when I was an elementary school student in San Sebastian College. I remember too how I would drop whatever extra coins I had from my allowance in a box that had a “For the Poor” sign. I never imagined that someday I would be saying Mass at that Church. I am filled with gratitude to our parents who taught us about values and about God, and who always told us to live meaningful lives. Papa and Mama, thank you very much!

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As we begin a new year, let us reflect on this: “The purpose of your time on earth is not primarily about acquiring possessions, attaining status, achieving success, or even experiencing happiness. Those are secondary issues. Life is all about love of God and love of neighbor. You may succeed in many areas, but if you fail to learn to love God and others, you will have missed the reason why God created you.”

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For a happy and peaceful 2013, remember: “Life is too short to be unhappy, so laugh when you can, apologize when you should, let go of what you can’t change, love deeply, forgive quickly, take chances, smile when you are sad. Love what you got, and stay faithful to what you have. People change and things go wrong, but with God’s grace, life is, and will be, beautiful.”

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Praying that 2013 will be a better year for all of us, in all aspects, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, bless all members of our family, living or dead, present or absent, and bless especially those who need conversion, healing and peace. Heal our broken relationships and make us whole again as a family and as a nation. Amen.

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