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Who is a true disciple?

The story is told about a man who wrote to the bank: “My cheque was returned with a note that said ‘insufficient fund.’ I want to know if it refers to mine or your bank.”

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In today’s Gospel (Mt. 4, 12-23), Jesus called simple fishermen to come and follow Him. In terms of worthiness and capabilities, they had “insufficient funds,” but still they were called. Discipleship is all about a generous and loving God calling us, not so much because of us as in spite of us.

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Somebody once said that God chooses not so much the worthy instrument as the willing instrument. So true. God has a hard time dealing with righteous and self-righteous instruments who end up with entitlement issues. Better are the simple, grateful, forgiven sinners who rely on God’s mercy and compassion, and have no lofty thoughts and ambitions. It is humility that is the key to true discipleship and mission.

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My encounter with cancer has taught me that more than the work that I do for the Lord, it is my relationship with the Lord that really matters in the end. I have also realized that God’s love remains the same even if, and especially if, I am already old, weak, or sick. Our worth is not on what we have, or what we do, but on who we are to Him who loves us most. Presumptuous? It is better to be presumptuous of God’s love than to doubt God’s love.

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Who loves God most? The one who listens to Him and obeys Him. Who serves Him best? The one who serves Him humbly and gratefully. It is not so much the kind of work, nor the quantity as the quality of work that matters most in our discipleship. More than the work of our hands, it is the love in our hearts that God sees and wants.

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On the eve of Mama’s sixth death anniversary (Jan. 25), I said Mass at the Philippine Orthopedic Center for their 75th anniversary celebration. Just before the Mass, the chaplain, Fr. Ulysses Cacho, from Anda, Pangasinan, showed to me his chalice which he said, was given to him by Mama as an ordination gift on March 12, 2005. Wow! It is so heartwarming to hear stories about Mama’s generosity, and how she often went out of her way for others, with no thought of reward or glory.

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We remember, we honor, and we are grateful to our first teachers and evangelizers who gave us our sense of God and mission, and who taught us the value of prayer, humility, kindness and joy.

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Whenever I remember the face of Mama, I find myself smiling. I don’t know why. I just feel assured that all is well, in spite of many calamities and travails, and that all will be fine.

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“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you; Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31, 8). This beautiful verse is on my table, a constant reminder, and a source of strength for this unworthy, but willing disciple.

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Think about this: “Blessed are those who can encourage others to go on even if they have failed; those who give happiness even if they are in pain; and those who hold on to God even if they have experienced brokenness.”

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Last Jan. 18, our Elementary Class ’66 had a reunion at our alma mater, San Sebastian College, Manila. This Feb. 2, our High School Class ’70 will have our Golden Anniversary Homecoming at Christ the King Mission Seminary, Quezon City. Reunions are occasions to remember, rejoice and renew. Don’t forget our grand reunion and homecoming in heaven, someday.

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A moment with the Lord: Lord, help us to be Your true disciples for always, and in all ways. Amen.

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