Moments

There is hope

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The story is told of a wife who asked her husband about the three grains of rice and a P1,000 bill which she found in his drawer. Pressed for an answer, the husband admitted to her that the three grains of rice are a reminder to him of how many times he lied to her. “Wow. Only three times! How about the P1,000 bill?” the wife asked. “Oh, that,” he said. “That is from the sale of the sack of rice that I had already accumulated!”

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In today’s Gospel (Jn. 8, 1-11), we hear the story of a woman who had been caught in adultery and who was publicly humiliated because of her sin. The truth of the matter is that those who condemned her had more and bigger sins. That is why when Jesus challenged them to cast the first stone if they themselves have not sinned, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. May we learn to stop accusing and condemning others. Instead, like Jesus, may we become more compassionate, more understanding, and more forgiving when others fall, or sin.

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We congratulate those who, by their own efforts and by God’s grace, have been spared from big sins. To God be the glory! But for us who, because of our disobedience and lack of discipline, have fallen, and have fallen again and again, may we seek refuge in God’s mercy and forgiveness. However, we must not take lightly Jesus’ admonition today: “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” Sin must stop. The sooner, the better. Let us not wait for the final reckoning. Let us not test God’s patience till the very end.

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“Have mercy on me, oh, God, for I am a sinner.” Unless and until we can sincerely pray this prayer, then maybe we have not really come to terms with who we really are, and who God really is. People who have not yet hit the bottom, so to speak, will continue to vacillate between true commitment and compromise, between true repentance and mere appearance.

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“It is better to give a piece of your heart than to give a piece of your mind.” Jesus could have scolded the adulterous woman after the crowd had dispersed. He could have blamed her and privately condemned her. But, He did not. His forgiveness was total, real, and unconditional. May we, who are recipients of such forgiveness, go and sin no more, and become more compassionate and forgiving.

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“Habemus Papam!” I am writing this column in the Holy Land, by the shore of Lake Galilee where it all began some 2,000 years ago. What a great joy to join the whole Christendom and the whole world to welcome Pope Francis, our 266th Pope. The first, St. Peter, was a simple fisherman. Pope Francis seems to be just like that—a simple fisherman.

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Many of you will agree with me that prior to the opening of the balcony at St. Peter’s in Rome, we were all in suspense and wishing that our very own Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle would be the one proclaimed as the elected pope. Yes, Lord, Thy will be done!

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I found it very meaningful that Pope Francis bowed his head in prayer and asked the people to pray for him before he gave his first papal blessing, “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and to the world). Wow! A humble Pope. There is hope!

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There are a lot of stories and anecdotes about our Pope who chose to forego the pomp and the perks that go with being a prince of the Church then, and the Supreme Pontiff now. Wow! A simple Pope. There is hope!

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Did you notice how stiff he was when he first came out on the balcony, what with some cardinals around him telling him what to do or say? But soon, he warmed up and the human person in him came out, especially when he ended his message with the words “Good evening, have a good rest” to the 70,000 people who waited so long for his proclamation. Wow! A caring and listening Pope. There is hope!

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May Pope Francis, inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, bring back to the Church humility, simplicity, and poverty. May our new Pope, too, inspired by St. Francis Xavier, be open to the new ways of evangelization, mission, and dialogue with the world. We praise and thank God for a fresh start and new beginnings with our new Pope.

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“There is no sinner without a future. There is no saint without a past.” As we journey on, may we take courage in the thought that our past is in God’s mercy and love, and that our future is in God’s hands. What matters most in the end is that we did not give up on God, we did not give up on others, and we did not give up on ourselves.

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Bantay Matanda invites you to a lay forum on March 23, 9 a.m. to 12 noon, at Janssen Hall, Christ the King Seminary, E. Rodriguez Sr. Blvd., Quezon City. The subject of the forum is osteoporosis, cause and prevention. The speaker is Dr. Shelley de la Vega, geriatrician/elder specialist at Medical City and St. Luke’s Medical Center. For inquiries, call 373-2262/998-2548/09174167849.

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, remind us that no matter how difficult and dark, there is hope if we go back to Your love. Amen.

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