Moments

Remember!

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The story is told about an old man who was asked: “At your age, what would you prefer, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s?” He said: “I’d rather have Parkinson’s. Better to spill half of my wine than to forget where I kept the bottle!”

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In today’s Gospel (Lk. 1, 1-4; 14-21), Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the spirit, fully aware of who He was, and fully committed to His mission in life. Jesus had neither Parkinson’s nor Alzheimer’s when it came to His person and purpose in life. Neither fear nor praise prevented Him from fulfilling His mission.

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Many of us go through life vacillating between commitment and selfishness. Human as we are, we often hold back, calculate, and play safe. This is where the Holy Spirit can empower us, if we only allow Him. Perhaps if we allowed more the Holy Spirit to work in us we would be less selfish, and live more committed lives.

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All of us have the mandate to proclaim God’s Word wherever we are. For some, this means the proclamation of our creed and doctrines, and beliefs. For some others, this means the promulgation of our code of morals and even our ways of praying and worshipping. It is noteworthy that many of us do this with zeal and passion. (Even the Pharisees did the same in Jesus’ time!) In view of our present secular situation, though, perhaps it is time for us to stress dialogue and not so much proclamation; listening, and not so much preaching; being disciples with hearts aflame, rather than defenders of the faith filled with self-righteousness bereft of human kindness and understanding.

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Kerygma, the proclamation of God’s Word, takes on a new meaning when we see ourselves as servants who have experienced personally God’s love, and sinners who have been forgiven. More than preachers, we are personal witnesses to God’s unconditional love and forgiveness who can treat others “with respect, understanding, compassion, and love” precisely because we have been recipients of His grace and love abounding.

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Last Jan. 21-23, about 120 of us members of the SVD Philippine Central Province gathered together at the Divine Word Seminary in Tagaytay City to reexamine and renew our vision, mission and goal as a province under the efficient and inspiring guidance of Dr. Rose Salazar Clemeña. We all went home with clearer vision and goals in our different ministries and apostolates. We also felt renewed by the experience of going back to our seminary days (sleeping on double-decked steel beds!), and sharing in the life and work of our confreres. We all need moments to be together to “rest a while,” and listen again to our Master and to one another.

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Fr. Catalino Arevalo, SJ, provided very concise and inspiring input on Faith and Evangelization, with special emphasis on reaching out to our Asian neighbors, the poor, the “unchurched,” and the youth. We are to become disciples with burning hearts! More than the content of his talk, what struck me was the very person of Father Arevalo, all of 88 years old, still sharing God’s Word far and wide, a theological giant with a humble, simple heart still burning with love, indeed a faithful companion (Socius) of Jesus.

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It seems to me that a lot of our so-called “public servants,” once elected, begin to have Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, throwing their weight around and forgetting their mandate to serve the people. Worse, they forget that the public funds they quarrel about are precisely the people’s money, not theirs.

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Speaking of forgetfulness, one thing we all need to forget is what the world owes us, and concentrate on what we owe the world. Another forgetfulness that is encouraged is to forget what we have done or “achieved,” and remember with gratitude what others have done for us and what we have received. In that way, we can be at peace, with not much expectations from others, and not much imposition on others.

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Fr. Mariano Alcoriza, SVD (March 4, 1934-Jan. 20, 2013), was a simple, humble, obedient Divine Word missionary. This gentle, soft-spoken person from Bulacan was ordained in 1963 and was a quiet worker and a prayerful person. One can never imagine the many lives and hearts he has touched as a pastor for 30 years in Mindoro, and as chaplain of Lourdes Hospital for nine years. He was a faithful, committed, and grateful servant till the very end.

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Fr. Raymun Festin, SVD, missionary to Angola for many years, is back as philosophy professor at Christ the King Seminary in Quezon City. He has a new book titled “Mindfulness” to help us appreciate the beauty of philosophy. The book was published by Logos Publications and is available at Catholic Trade in Manila and Christ the King Seminary Store.

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, help me to remember, help me not to forget my role, and my part in your vision and mission. Amen.

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