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One mightier than I

The story is told about an elderly man who asked a gym trainer: “What machine should I use to impress the ladies around here?” The trainer took a long look at him and said: “Lolo, I humbly advise that you go outside and use the ATM instead.”

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In today’s Gospel (Lk. 3, 10-18), John the Baptist declares: “One mightier than I is coming.” He reminds us that there is one greater than ourselves. Acceptance that we are weak mortals will set us free from our illusions of greatness and might. Let us learn this most basic lesson in life: Let go, and let God! Unless and until we have learned this, we have learned nothing at all.

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On the natural plane, our tendency is to be greedy and to be selfish. But if we believe that there is someone greater than ourselves, who asks us to do otherwise, then we will learn to share, to be honest, and to love. He/she who listens to something or someone greater than himself/herself is someone who has been truly set free. If life for you is all about I, me, and myself, then you still have a long, long way to go in your journey.

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Just a reminder: The journey may end sooner than we think. The sooner we see the “big picture,” the better. The sooner we go beyond our narrow horizons of worldly fame, wealth, honor, comfort and convenience, the better. Pity not those who don’t have much in this life. Pity rather those who have much in life, and have so limited vision, and so narrow horizons.

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“What should we do?” This was the question the crowds asked John the Baptist. How interesting that the crowd asked this question. As we scrutinize the candidates running for public office and seeking our votes in the May 2016 elections, please forget those who tell us what he/she will do. Let us choose officials who inspire us, that we ourselves will be moved to do something. Let us not go for self-proclaimed messiahs who promise to solve our problems for us. Rather, let us look for sincere leaders who show us a vision, and who will collaborate with us in fulfilling a mission.

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If it is any consolation, there was also corruption, graft, extortion, and manipulation during the time of Jesus. Nothing new under the sun, so they say. But the message is the same, too: that there will be a cleansing, a judgment, a separation between the good and the bad in the final harvest. Let us not lose heart when evil people seem to prosper. Let us not envy them. There is a God! Evil will be punished, and goodness will be repaid.

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Today is the third Sunday of Advent, which is also called “Gaudete Sunday,” a day of rejoicing. Advent is not just about repentance and penance but also, and more so, about joy and hope. Please be happy. Be hopeful. Be positive. Be joyful. Why? Because Someone greater and mightier than you and I is coming, and He is with us every single day of our lives. Amen!

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The Philippine Daily Inquirer is 30 years old! It has literally come a long way. I joined the Inquirer family in praising and thanking God in a thanksgiving Mass last Dec. 9 for 30 years of “balanced news and fearless views.” It has also been 30 years of balance between being professional and being personal. The Inquirer is a family that has a mind that seeks and speaks, and a heart that listens and beats. The bottom line is that we have contributed to nation building, and in uplifting the lives of our countrymen/women.

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Inquirer editor in chief Letty Jimenez Magsanoc summed it all up: “The core values of the Inquirer should have to stay. We have carried the torch from Edsa I … We have a history. It is a back story of excellence and commitment to democracy, to the public good and public welfare. At the end of the day, those are what we should remember as we invent and reinvent the paper every day.” Amen! Let’s carry on. Go for the gold!

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“Passion should come from within you.” I borrow this line from Letty Magsanoc, and throw it to all of us to ponder on. If passion comes from outside you, then it’s simply manipulation, compliance, or, worse, just a show or imitation borne out of necessity or ambition. Let us all try to become men and women with passion in whatever we do, great or small. And yes, let us not forget to become men and women of compassion as well. Whom to choose as our future leaders? Men and women with passion and compassion.

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Worth sharing again is this Christmas message of Pope Francis: “May the Holy Spirit enlighten our hearts, that we may recognize in the Infant Jesus, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, the salvation given by God to each one of us. May the power of Christ be felt in so many hearts afflicted by war and persecution. May this divine power, by its meekness, take away the hardness of heart of so many men and women immersed in worldliness and indifference. May His redeeming strength transform destruction into creativity, hatred into love and tenderness. Then, we will be able to cry out with joy: “Our eyes have seen Your salvation.”

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, remind us that we are mere mortals, not gods. You are God, mightier than us. Amen.

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TAGS: Advent, Elections 2016, God, Letty Jimenez Magsanoc, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Pope Francis, Remembering Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc
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