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Journeying together

The story is told about two basketball coaches who found themselves in the same church, praying, obviously, with the same intention—to win the championship. After praying, the first coach lit a candle before the image of St. Joseph, and then left. Seeing this, the second coach approached the same image of St. Joseph, also lit a candle, and also left, but not before blowing out the candle lit by his rival coach.

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In today’s Gospel (Lk. 13:1-9), Jesus reminds us that our focus in our journey to God should be on God, and not on each other. We should not compare ourselves to others because our journey to God’s heart is neither a race nor a contest. Let us not elbow each other out for there is room for everyone in God’s big heart.

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There is a thin line between righteousness and self-righteousness. The former is focused on God, while the latter is focused more on the self. Go ahead, please be righteous, but please, please, don’t be self-righteous. How do we know if we are righteous or self-righteous? If we are truly humble, we will know.

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The race is on! With the elections nearing, expect all sorts of maneuvers and tactics by the candidates to outdo and outrun each other. That is expected, and maybe even normal, in the ways of politics in our country. Having said that, we add that still, we expect everyone to play the game fair and square. We must strongly say: No to guns, goons and gold.

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Jesus underlines today that the test of our spirituality is that it bears fruit in our daily lives. Just as the fig tree is expected to bear fruit and not just occupy space, let us ask ourselves today: Am I bearing fruit? Am I living a life that is pleasing to God, and that is of help and service to others?

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God is a patient God. He is a God who waits, a God who gives everyone a second chance and countless opportunities for us to grow and improve ourselves. However, there are limits. We cannot and should not abuse the love and generosity of God. Let us not put God to the test. Let us meet Him halfway. Let us not be stubborn and proud of heart. Yes, if today we hear His voice, let us not harden our hearts!

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Save the tooth! My dentist, Dr. Roby Montellano, an ex-seminarian (XVD), told me that present-day dentists will go all the way and exhaust all means to save a tooth. Whereas before, extraction was the name of the game, now dentists go for preservation, reconstruction, and rehabilitation. It is the same with God, who goes out of His way just to save us!

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Doctor Roby also told me that our teeth do affect each other! When a tooth is being treated, the neighboring teeth are also taken into consideration. One decaying tooth can cause other teeth to decay.

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You and I know that a dentist can do nothing unless we open our mouth. God, too, can do nothing with us unless we open our heart to Him. Unless we are open, God’s grace cannot operate in us. Only if we are humble and honest can we be open to His grace.

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Sharing with you this beautiful prayer:

“Lord, here I am. You know me. You know everything about me. Do whatever You want with me, I will obey.  Trim me, prune me, but please don’t cut me, for apart from You, I am nothing and can do nothing worthy. Amen!”

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As I write this column, my heart sings with joy as I watch people in our neighborhood coming into our SVD Mission Center in San Jose, Batangas, for our first medical mission. It is being conducted by the Fairview General Hospital, headed by Doctors Hermie and Bibie Jarin, and their team of doctors and nurses. How wonderful it is to see and feel the presence of God, and experience His healing power through His generous instruments. Yes, may we live not just successful but, more so, meaningful lives.

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We praise God for our lay workers, partners in our apostolate. We journey to God’s heart together and do God’s work together. Thanks to SVD Friends like Geri Maiatico, Cris and Linda Arriola, and Beth Velasquez, to name some, plus all those in the local community who have volunteered. We are grateful, too, for medicines shared by Abe and Sylvia Pascual of Pascual Laboratories, Manny and Lina Magbag of Pharma-Dynamic, and Dave Militar of Scheeling Inc. Praise God for simple, sincere and generous people who do good without thought of honor, reward, or position.

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A medical and spiritual mission it is, with Mass and confessions, and fellowship with the less privileged in our midst. Yes, we are all pilgrims in the world, journeying together to God’s heart, helping each other on, not elbowing each other out.

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Think about this: “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.” (Pope Francis)

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, help us to journey together and not box out each other in our journey to Your heart. Amen.

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TAGS: FAITH, God, Gospel, Jesus Christ, Journey, righteousness, self-righteousness
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