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Appear!

QUESTION: How do you make a banana disappear?

Answer: Remove the “B” —anana!   (no more!)

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Question: How do you make a banana appear again?

Answer: Remove the “ba” —nana! (It’s back!)

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Today is the Solemnity of the Epiphany, the manifestation of the Savior, and the revelation of God’s universal plan of salvation. In today’s gospel (Mt. 2, 1-12), we hear how a star appeared to the magi from the East and led them to Bethlehem where they saw the Child with Mary, His mother. They did Him homage, offering their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Yes, our God is a God who reaches out, who does not remain far or distant, but a God who appears and who wants to be with us.

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Our present Pope (Francis) is a pope who is on a constant “Epiphany” mode. He is a pope who wants to connect and who wants to be with God’s people, especially the lost, the least and the last. He is a pope who communicates and who communes with his flock. He is a good copy of the original because of his simplicity, humility and tenacity. He has stripped himself and his papacy of pomp and traditions so that his Master could really appear and be manifested in this our modern day and time. Yes, he is a true representative, one who makes present again our Lord Jesus Christ. Are we making our Lord present and real by our own person and by our very lives? Or are we making him disappear and unrecognizable by our own person and by our very lives?

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Our God is not a god who plays it safe, or who plays coy. Our God allowed Himself to be approachable and to be vulnerable. That is what Pope Francis is also doing. And that is what he is telling us all to do, too! In short, he is asking us to go beyond our comfort zones, go down from our pedestals, leave the sacristy and go to the streets to make the Lord appear again in flesh and blood. Incarnation once more, and once more with feeling!

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This Friday, Jan. 9, is the Feast of Our Lord Jesus, the Nazarene. No matter what critics say, it is a religious devotion where thousands of people from all walks of life have a religious experience, and encounter the Lord, offering not gold, frankincense or myrrh (which they don’t have), but blood, sweat and tears (which we all have aplenty as a people, and as a nation). Given the chance and the freedom, Pope Francis, I am sure, would love to be a part of the Quiapo Nazarene experience.

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An Epiphany moment happened when the children of 94-year-old Mama Modesta Husmillo came home from different places abroad to be with her this Christmas, bringing her presents, but most of all bringing their presence upon her who lives alone with a caregiver in Pinagtung-ulan, San Jose, Batangas. What a wonderful reunion it was and what a joy for this public school teacher who raised her 10 children with so much love and sacrifice. Thank You, Lord, for our parents, and for all the people who make Your love so real and so present in our lives.

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One significant person in my life and in the life of many seminarians and ex-seminarians (XVDs) from Christ the King Mission Seminary is Fr. Mike Padua, SVD, who turned 85 last Dec. 23. In him, we have felt the presence and person of our Lord as our formator, mentor and friend, through the years! Now in the Villa Cristo Rey retirement house, he still continues to be a real father and grandfather to all of us. Still humorous, when we have evening gatherings, he says he has to go ahead because his lola is very strict! Mabuhay ka, Father Mike!

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One person who made Epiphany so real in the lives of so many people was

Fr. German Mehler, SVD, who spent 51 years of his priestly-missionary life in Mindoro. This smiling, generous, and hardworking missionary from Tirschenreuth, Germany, has revealed and manifested the love of God to so many people. Through him, a lot of people have received scholarships and education—and smiles, through his special apostolate of harelip operations, not to mention his zeal for the sacraments and church constructions! Mabuhay ka, Father Mehler!

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The matriarch of the Valera clan of Abra was laid to rest last Dec. 27 at the age of 89. Violeta Paredes Valera bore 17 children! And she has 40 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren. This prayerful, gentle, gracious and generous woman went through a lot, and offered a lot, and in doing so, made our Lord and our Blessed Mother so real in her family and in the hearts of so many people she met and encountered. Mabuhay ka, Manang Bolet!

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Notice how we ended our tributes to the people we mentioned above with

“Mabuhay ka!”?

That is because the good things they did continue and live on. They, who made God manifest and real in their lifetime, will continue to live on in our hearts and minds.

How about you? What will people remember you by after you are gone? Will people even care at all? It all depends on how we make the goodness and the love of God manifest in our lives.

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As we say goodbye to 2014 and welcome 2015, the question we should ask is: Have I come closer to God, and have I come nearer to God’s heart? That is the bottom line. More than our financial, health, social, family, political issues and concerns, the question to ask ourselves is not, “Am I closer to death now than last year?” (Naturally!), but “Am I closer to God now than last year?”

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, as You appeared to us 2,015 years ago, help us to make You appear again this 2015. Amen!

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TAGS: column, Epiphany, feast of the black Nazarene, Fr. Jerry M. Orbos, Pope Francis, SVD
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