Moments

For all and for always

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The story is told about a young priest who, on his first sacerdotal anniversary, told his parishioners that the first person who came to him for confession in the parish was someone involved in an adulterous relationship. Later, the town mayor, who arrived late and was unaware of what had been said earlier, proudly revealed to everyone: “I have the distinct honor to be the very first person to go to confession to Father when he first arrived here!”

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Today is the Solemnity of the Lord’s Epiphany, when his Lordship is revealed and manifested. In today’s Gospel (Mt. 2, 1-12), we hear of the story of the Magi who were led by a star to the place where Jesus was born.  They paid Him homage and offered their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to signify Jesus’ identity as King, priest, and prophet for all. From the very start, the missionary aspect of our faith is clear: Jesus, God’s greatest gift to the world, must be shared with everyone to all the ends of the world. Jesus is not for our sole keeping but for all and for always.

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Blessings given to us are not for us to keep. Blessings are to be shared and to be used according to God’s plan. Likewise, our faith is to be shared. We should not just be grateful receivers, we should also become joyful givers!

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A lot of things have been said about the late Fr. James B. Reuter, SJ, but I would like to honor him as an Epiphany priest. His whole life was a life of sharing until the very end. Here was a person who was revealed far and wide by his work and by his very person.

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Father Reuter can rightly be called a “Mama’s boy” because of his devotion to and love for the Blessed Mother, which was so evident and so inspiring. I wish all priests and religious would have that humble, childlike heart that truly loves Mary. As our former novice master, Fr. Alphonse Mildner, SVD, always told us:  “You may become priests without the Blessed Mother, but if you want to become good priests, you must hold on to the Blessed Mother.”

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Speaking of mothers, I made a trip to San Carlos City in Pangasinan for my 91-year-old Mama last Jan. 2. She was all set to go but backed out at the last minute, so I went with the driver anyway to do her wish that I bless the tombs of her parents, Tomas Muñoz (who died in 1989) and Laurentina Galicia (1998). I passed by Mama’s 87-year-old brother, Dr. Angel Muñoz, and together we went to the cemetery to pay homage to our deceased relatives. It was a long, tiresome round trip but a meaningful one, especially if done for a loved one.

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Before we leave the Nativity scene, take note that the eyes of Joseph and Mary are focused on the child. This, for me, is the source of true peace. They are not focused on the poor surroundings, or on the people coming and going, or on the gifts that people were bringing. They were not even focused on each other. Perhaps that’s all we need to do as we go through life. Let us keep our eyes focused on the Lord, and the mission He has given us in this life.

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Last Jan. 3, we sent off Fr. Sedfrey Nebres, SVD, for his first mission assignment to the Netherlands. Having gone to the foreign missions myself (four years in South Korea), I know what it is like to leave home, country and family for the sake of the Gospel. I can never begin to imagine, though, the feelings of Father Sedfrey’s mother, who was letting go of her eldest child and only son. The work of revelation and Epiphany goes on.  Let us all continue to become the Lord’s manifestation whoever we are, whatever we do. Who knows what will happen in 2013? As it has been often said, we do not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future in His hands. We just do our best, and to God we leave the rest.

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God’s love is for all and for always, for all times and for all seasons. This October I turn 60, and more and more I realize that the sunset years of life must be spent on quality time and payback time. Whatever is left with the rest of our lives must be the best of our lives, continuing to live out God’s love for all and for always.

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Here’s wishing and praying that money and politics do not destroy the values that define us as a people and as a nation. Spare us, Lord, from greedy and selfish leaders, the modern-day “Herods.” Let us continue to pray and work for peace!

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Think about it: “Forgiveness is the key to being free from the toxic bitterness of people who have hurt you so. Forgive the boss who did you wrong; forgive the friend who betrayed you; forgive the parent who mistreated you when you were younger; forgive everyone, the living and the dead, and don’t let the root of bitterness grow deeper and continue to contaminate your life. Certainly, one can’t live with poison inside his being and not expect it to eventually do him harm. Forgive yourself.”

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, use me as an instrument of your love for all and for always. Amen.

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