Seated beside a nun in a restaurant together with some overseas Filipino workers in Japan recently, I asked her: “What is your order,
Sister?” To my surprise, she started to talk about her congregation, their apostolate, and their work and charism. And all I wanted to know was what food she wanted to order for her meal!
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In today’s Gospel (Mk. 1, 1-8), we learn about John the Baptist who knew how to follow orders. He was clear about who he was: He was not the Messiah, but His messenger. The message was also clear: repentance and forgiveness of sins. Here was a man whose identity, vision and
mission were in order. As long as we know and remember who we are and who God is, we, too, will be in order.
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Advent is the time for us to put things in order. Let God be God, let man be man! Let us acknowledge in humility our need for, and dependence on, God. Humility is the key to a meaningful Advent season. Together with John the Baptist, we say: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of His sandals.”
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“Have mercy on me, O God, a sinner.” Metanoia—a transformative change of heart—begins with a sincere acknowledgment of our sins and weaknesses. There can be no real conversion as long as we play the games of pride, denial, rationalization and procrastination. If only we really listened to God and obeyed Him!
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Here we are, just a few days before Christmas, preparing for the birthday of Jesus, and our focus is suddenly diverted to preparing for the arrival of Typhoon “Ruby,” wary of her effects on our people and our country. On the other hand, Ruby (internationally known as “Hagupit”) may prove to be the best message as to what Advent preparation really is. Ruby has made us all aware of our littleness, our sinfulness, our need to pray, and our mission to reach out to the poor and the needy around us. This natural disorder has somehow enhanced spiritual order.
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As of this writing, Ruby is at our doorsteps, threatening to wreak havoc and devastation on our people and our country. But we pray, and pray on, believing in the power of God, and believing that miracles can and do happen. We must not stop believing that the impossible can be possible with God. One with those prayer brigades!
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A few days ago (12/5/14), the Inquirer published “Tips and reminders on how to survive typhoons before, during, after” from Plan International, Philippine Red Cross and the Official Gazette. Here are the reminders (with my own additions) for our Advent preparation:
- Be updated with the latest weather report. (Hello, it’s Advent season now and soon it will be Christmas. Are you preparing
- Make communication plans. (It’s time for prayer, confession, reaching out.)
- Prepare supplies and disaster gear. (It’s time to dispose of excess material possessions and what you really do not need.)
- Protect property. (Your most important property is your soul!)
- Obey evacuation orders. (Obey God, and sin no more!)
- Secure yourselves. (Secure your salvation and secure heaven.)
- Continue to be alert. (Advent and Christmas are not just seasons. They are ongoing visions and missions all year long.)
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Tomorrow, Dec. 8, is “Mother’s Day”—the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holiday of obligation, but more a day of thanksgiving to Mama Mary, our heavenly Mother. On a personal note, it is also the birth anniversary of our beloved Mama, Concepcion Muñoz Orbos, her 93rd. It is her first birthday, not with us, but in heaven. Let us also pray for Mother Earth and Mother Nature, to forgive us for whatever abuses we have done. And let us also pray for our motherland, that soon, a fresh start and new beginning will come upon our land.
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Bantay Matanda invites you to a lay forum, “Proper Exercises for the Elderly,” on Dec. 13, to be held at Arnold Janssen Hall, Christ the King Seminary, on E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue, Quezon City, 9 a.m.-12 noon. For inquiries, please call 3732262/ 9982548/ 09174167849.
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A moment with the Lord:
Lord, remind us that life is all about loving You, loving others, and loving ourselves, in that order. Amen.
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