Wednesday, June 15, 2005


LUKE 13:10-17

The laws which governed behavior on the Sabbath were important. Their purpose was to encourage people to spend the entire day in worship of the Lord. For this reason the laws forbade work on the Sabbath.

In today's gospel, Jesus cures a sick woman on the Sabbath. The chief of the synagogue interpreted curing as a type of work. Therefore he berated directly the people, indirectly Jesus, "don't come here on the Sabbath to be cured, there are six other days when you can be cured."

Jesus, however, didn't see healing on the Sabbath as disrespectful to the Sabbath. "Anybody would lead his ox or his ass to water on the Sabbath and no one would complain about it," he says, "why shouldn't this daughter of Abraham be cured on the Sabbath?"

A modern example of this: we fast one hour before receiving Holy Communion. In this way we show respect to the Eucharist. In a given situation, however, we may judge that greater respect is paid to the Eucharist by receiving Holy Communion after a shorter fast, than by not receiving Communion at all.

Rules and laws are meant to be used intelligently by mature people.


LUKE 18:9-14

Today's Gospel parable has deep meaning and no word wasted. It has a message that challenges and hits the bull's eye. Luke makes a little p.s. "pahabol" – the obvious lesson: Exalt yourself and you will be humbled. Humble yourself and you will be exalted.

But to appreciate the parable we can look at three movements of thought. First, get the background of the two characters in the parable. Second, uncover what it is in the prayer of each that turns Jesus on or off. Third, transfer the parable from Palestine to our own setting, our own temple: Who am I? And what is my stance towards God?

First, a look at the two characters in the parable: One is a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. Now it's important to understand just who these two characters were. What kind of people they represent. Otherwise, we may miss the meaning of the story.

When you and I hear the word "Pharisee," we get bad vibrations. Call me "pharisaical" I may get angry. You may get a punch in the nose! Because you are calling me a hypocrite: I am pretending to be what I am not. I am hung up on externals; I parade my imagined or real virtues.

But in fairness to the Pharisees, much of their history evokes respect. Their lifeblood was the Law of Moses. A Jew would be saved, the nation made holy, only by knowing the law thoroughly and following it exactly: Sabbath and feast days, ritual purity, tithing, dietary rules – all 613 regulations. The code may repel us, but never forget that what the Pharisees were trying to make into law was love, loyalty, compassion, and make them inescapable religious obligations.

What of the other character, the tax collector? Here too was a Jew, but a Jew whose job was to collect taxes from his fellow Jews – for the Romans. He was a traitor to his country. He was collaborator in the payroll of the hated occupation forces. Even more of a scandal to law-abiding Jews, his job lent itself to abuse, graft and corruption. Remember John the Baptist's advice to the tax collectors, "Collect no more than you are authorized." Remember Zacchaeus, the pandak, a chief tax collector? He promised, "Behold, Lord … if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." That is why in the Gospels you find tax collectors lumped together in one breath with sinners. In Luke 5:30 the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled to Jesus' disciples: "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" Simply not a respectable profession, though you might be as rich as Levi-Matthew.

Second, each of them says something. Each produces a prayer. The Pharisee's prayer is a prayer of thanksgiving: "O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humankind – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast two days a week, I pay to the temple the ten percent tithe on everything I acquire."

The tax collector's prayer is simply a cry for forgiveness, for mercy: "O God, be merciful to me the sinner!"

And Jesus' reaction? The tax collector went home "upright in the sight of God"; the Pharisee did not. The self-confessed sinner was pleasing to God. The self-professed saint was not.

But why? Not because the Pharisee was lying, the tax collector telling the truth, Jesus does not challenge the Pharisee's facts. Jesus does not say, "Man, you're a liar. You know as well as I do that you rob your neighbor's pigeon house and sleep with his wife, on fast days you secretly eat Peking duct, and you actually give 5% to the temple, not 10%." No, the parable has bite to it precisely because the Pharisee does every single thing his religion demands of him, and perhaps more. He observes the Law of Moses and the pious practices of the Pharisees. Look at what he does and you cannot find fault with him.

Then where was the Pharisee's fault? Where did he go wrong? Listen to the opening sentence of today's Gospel: Jesus "spoke this parable addressed to those who believed in their own self-righteousness, while holding everyone else in contempt." The parable had for its target a number of Jews (not all of them Pharisees, and not all the Pharisees) with two damnable postures. They thought that what made them pleasing to God's sight was their own virtuous activity, a laundry list of good works, and they look with contempt on the rest of human race with arrogant noses, at "sinners and tax collectors" and everyone else who did not duplicate their good deeds.

No, says Jesus, not of such is the kingdom of heaven. If you want to see what saves, what makes for delight in heaven, look at the tax collector you condemn and contemn. He is upright before God, because he trusts not in himself but in God, not in any good work that calls for reward, but in God's gracious goodness, God's unmerited mercy. And in begging for mercy, in pleading for forgiveness, he does not contrast himself with anyone else – with the proud Pharisee or the hated Samaritan, with bigger thieves or a hot Middle East Casanova. He does not dare "lift up his eyes to heaven" and he does not care to comment on any member of the congregation save himself: "O God, be merciful to me the sinner."

Third stage. Move the parable from Palestine to your own setting, your own temple. What does it say to you? After all, the parables of Jesus are our parables. The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector is terribly contemporary, for it raises the shadow of two constant temptations.

The first temptation is thinking that I save my soul. Jesus' parable is addressed to all who attribute to themselves as pleasing to God, all who lift themselves to heaven by their own bootstraps. It's true I cannot be saved unless I want to, but even that wanting, that very desire, is God's grace to me. It is Jesus who saves.

Now don't misunderstand the parable. God will not mind if your prayer of thanksgiving sounds in part like the Pharisee's: "O God, I thank you for all I am. I have such a high IQ. In looks I score 10. I never miss Mass on Sundays (despite your boring preachers), haven't broken any commandment this year. I work for the victims of wars, and earthquakes, of typhoons and floods. I helped the poor and the lonely, the sick, the "sungit" and "pangit." I even support the parish priest with all kinds of gifts."

Not a bad prayer, but useless unless you add, day in and day out, "O God, be merciful to me, sinner that I am." In your prayer of thanksgiving thank God for His mercy, from the birth of His Son in a stable, through his death on a cross, to his birth in your heart. Without that mercy, without God's constant forgiveness, all your work would be worthless.

The second temptation is less subtle, a danger to everyday living. I compare myself with others. Throughout history men and women have fallen prey in some measure to the Pharisee's fault: "I am not like the rest of mankind." Early Christians looked down on the Jews "rejected by God," Crusaders on infidels they would massacre. Protestants and Catholics despised one another. The upper educated class looks down on the bakya crowd. And so on across the spectrum of human living.

Perhaps we can raise our prayer of thanksgiving to a high Christian level: "O God, I thank you that I am like the rest of humankind. I thank you that like everyone else, I too have been shaped in your image, with a mind to know and a heart to love. I thank you that, like everyone else, I too was embraced by the crucified arms of your Son. I too have him for a brother. I thank you that you judge me, like everyone else, not by my brains or looks, my clothes, the figures of my bank account, the size of my house and the model of my car, but by the love that is your gift to me, by the way I share the passion of your Christ. I thank you that, for all our thousand differences, I am remarkably like the people all around me."

"I thank you for letting me see that there is a little of the Pharisee in me, that I too have this very human yearning for something that sets me apart from the rest. If I am to thank you for making me different, let it be because through your mercy, I am different from what I would have been without you. Thank you, Lord, for making me so splendidly the same as everyone else, because it means I am that much closer to your Son, who became what all of us are: wonderfully and fearfully human. Keep me that way, Lord, and … always be merciful to me, sinner that I am." Amen.


LUKE 13:1-9

The parable at the end of today's gospel condemns, not those who commit positively sinful actions, but those who are given the opportunity to do good but refuse to do it.

The fig tree in the parable does not produce fruit and so its owner desires to cut it down, for, he says, "the tree is taking up the ground." It's using space and drawing moisture and nutrients from the soil, which another tree would use to produce fruit. The tree is not condemned because it's producing sour or poisonous fruit, but because it is not producing fruit at all.

Being a good Christian is not merely `not doing evil:' `I do not steal, murder or commit adultery, therefore I am a good Christian. God will not condemn me." Jesus corrects this misunderstanding in another parable. He pictures himself at the last judgment saying: "I was hungry and you gave me no food. I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, naked and you did not clothe me. Go away from me to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."

Jesus affirms this same truth in the parable in today's gospel: If the tree does not produce any fruit, it will be cut down.

With all the poverty and oppression about us, there is much need for doing good. Are we refusing to do the good we are being asked to do? The good we're capable of doing? Are we being truly Christian?


LUKE 12:54-59

Can we read the signs of the times today? Jesus tells us that we look at the sky and can predict what sort of weather we'll have. But we can't read the signs of the times. We need a new kind of vision, a new kind of discernment to read these signs. Where is our life headed today? Are we treading on the path of goodness or are we headed towards ruin?

We should treat every event that happens today, as a call to conversion from God. We should be able to interpret these events in the light of salvation from God. God calls to us. He is running after us. He is interested in our salvation. For this reason Jesus had to die on the cross. Jesus' whole intention and mission was to present us with an escape from death, a way to eternal salvation. If we do not constantly exercise our power of discernment, this spiritual faculty may atrophy and blind us to the grace of salvation God offers us.

Jesus sends us prophets. He sends us the daily gospel readings, which call out to us. The readings – they are the word of God that impart to us the wisdom and discernment we need if we are to learn to read the signs of our times. It is a gift, a grace, to "understand" and interpret what is happening to us.

The evil one can suggest wrong interpretations to us. When we feel neglected by our spouses or members of our family, for instance, the ensuing loneliness may tempt us to seek solace through other means. We may think that what is, in fact sinful, is good for us, that what the Church teaches is already "passé," no longer applicable. In such a situation our only hope would be that the Holy Spirit impose himself on us and revitalize our faculty of discernment. With the Church's guidance then we would find proper direction for our lives.

The Gospel speaks of an urgency to convert, to turn ourselves totally to the Lord. If not, we will have to pay for our sins to the last penny. Why do we not offer our sins to the Lord who wants to take them away and forgive us. This is certain wisdom and certain truth. To be converted today, not tomorrow. Let us all discern and reflect on what is truly right.


LUKE 12:49-53

"Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division." To many, these words of Jesus do not seem to fit his character. Given what we know of Jesus, this saying may appear contradictory, almost out of character. We associate Jesus with peace. On the night that Jesus was born, the angels sang: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased." Jesus clearly taught non-violence and non-retaliation. He declared that peacemakers were blessed. He taught his followers to turn the other cheek when slapped on one cheek. And he wept over Jerusalem because it rejected the things that make for peace. Jesus' followers proclaimed the gospel of peace and Paul saw himself as an ambassador of reconciliation. Jesus was surely no promoter of division but the Prince of Peace.

However, we cannot dodge the challenging words of today's gospel reading. They address an all too common reality. To follow Jesus is to attract detractors, persecutors and opposition, sadly, often from within one's own family. Jesus was no stranger to family division. It seems likely that members of his own family were not sympathetic to his ministry. And John informs us that members of his extended family refused to believe in him.

The purpose of Jesus' mission was peace but his presence would inevitably divide. His words are true even today. To follow Jesus wholeheartedly and uncompromisingly incurs hostility. We soon discover who our true friends are if we take a stand for Christ. To follow Jesus is a radical call. To embrace the gospel is to lose the affection of the world.

Jesus knew that to follow him would mean opposition and suffering for his disciples. He warned them of it on many occasions. However, it was not until they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit that they were willing to accept and face it for themselves. But Jesus did not ask anything of his followers, which he was not willing to face himself. At this point in the gospel, he was on his way to Jerusalem. He knew that there he would face suffering and death. Yet nothing would prevent him from fulfilling what he knew to be the Father's will. In fact, he longed for this hour to come. Jesus calls us not to be afraid to face opposition, not to turn away from suffering. He has gone before us on the road, and he is with us now.

Ask Jesus today to help you to be his faithful disciple and never be afraid to walk where he has led.


LUKE 12:39-48

"Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. ….Much will be required of the person entrusted with much and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more."

This parable of the faithful and vigilant steward is certainly one of the more memorable ones in the gospel of Luke. On first reading, the parable tells of a very ordinary story of the relationship between a master and his stewards. It speaks of the prudence and faithful service of one steward but also of the unfaithfulness and unreliability of another steward and their respective consequences.

The final verses, very similar to the parable of the ten gold coins in Chapter 19: 12-27, and also the parable of the talents in the gospel of Matthew go to the heart of Jesus' teaching in this parable. He challenges us today, who are living in the 21st century to reflect on our lives and all we possess as something God has given us freely (He does not owe us anything.) in the same manner that he challenged his listeners living in the first century.

Who, then, is the steward whom the Master has chosen to put in charge of his other servants? Will the steward be faithful and prudent in carrying out his Master's wishes? Or will he be like the unfaithful steward who abused his authority / stewardship which the Master had given him?

As we further reflect, on this, what questions shall we ask ourselves on our role as stewards of God's creation? Have we failed to care for our world, the planet earth as well as the social, political and economic structures of our time? Have we neglected to help our neighbors when they are in need? Let us continue to ask ourselves, who are much more blessed by God not only in material wealth but also in talent, time and in other ways, did we share to those who have less? As we reflect on the Gospel today, let us ask ourselves if we have failed Jesus in different ways.


LUKE 12:35-38

"Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival." Luke 12:37

In the Gospel today, our Lord refers to the vigilant servants as "blessed" to remind us, His followers, the need to remain alert while awaiting His coming. One cannot help but realize that the waiting has not been easy because of the distractions and problems that we need to resolve while we wait for Him. Many of us may easily become complacent especially if we have difficulty in recognizing and acknowledging the Lord as the center of all.

We are truly blessed if we are spiritually prepared, alert and vigilant when our master returns. For each of us, our Lord's coming is one that is intensely personal, whether it would be at his second coming or when our life's journey comes to an end. Whichever way He chooses for us to join Him, may we prepare ourselves spiritually and mentally for that day. May we constantly be reminded that our stay is fleeting but His coming is definite.


LUKE 10:1-9

Luke was a Gentile, born of Greek parents at Antioch in Syria. He was among the earliest of the Gentile converts to the new Way. He was baptized as a young man, probably in his early twenties.

Luke was a well educated man, a physician, who traveled widely. He accompanied St. Paul on portions of his overseas missionary journeys and stayed with Paul even when everyone else had abandoned him during his imprisonment in Rome. Paul refers to Luke as "the beloved physician."

Luke was not, of course, an eye witness of what Jesus said and did. As he begins his gospel Luke tells us that after weighing carefully the various sources he had on hand, he wrote down in orderly sequence his own account.

In writing his gospel Luke, like the other evangelists, had no intention of producing either a theological essay on Christian doctrine or a biography of Jesus, as we understand biography today. Luke and his fellow evangelists wanted to present Jesus as an object of faith and love, as Messiah and God-man, as the one who would establish God's kingdom on earth.

The evangelists differ from one another in the emphasis which each gives to his portrait of Jesus. Luke's Jesus is a man of deep compassion, who desires that salvation be made available to all human beings. His compassion reaches out not only to human beings in general, it embraces especially the outcasts, the marginalized of society. Among these marginalized are the women of Palestine, who are caught in a rigidly patriarchal society and whom Luke portrays with warm respect. Another aspect of Jesus' compassionate nature that Luke presents is the solicitous mercy he manifests in regard to sinners. It is Luke who tells the stories of the sinful woman (ch. 7), the prodigal son (ch. 15), Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector of Jericho (ch. 19), Jesus' forgiveness of his executioners (ch. 23), and his blessing of the good thief (ch. 23).

Jesus as Luke portrays him is a very attractive person, the man-God we can approach confidently, recognizing that we will be received by him with compassion, warmth, joy and delight.


LUKE 18:1-8

In our Gospel readings during the recent weeks, Luke seems to read like the local tabloids. Few weeks ago Luke's Gospel ran "A dishonest Manager exposed!" Today Luke's parable runs "A dishonest Judge exposed!" If Luke had lived long enough, a few weeks from now the parable might have run "Dishonest Bishop, or Jesuit exposed!" Exposed! At any rate, we have a provocative parable. The parable raises a puzzling question; and the question suggests something over and above the point of the parable.

First, the parable itself: Jesus confronts us with two intriguing characters – a powerful judge and a powerless widow. Only a single sentence tells us what the judge was like. He "neither feared God nor cared about people." What's left? Only himself: lots of silver and gold coins for a short day's work, a case of San Miguel or Carlos Primero with steaks, lechon, and Peking ducks, perhaps a little sex between sessions.

"Execute justice" with the prophet Jeremiah? With Micah, "Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God?" With Isaiah, "Correct oppression, defend the fatherless, and plead for the widow?" Forget it! That's for the goody-goody, weak and stupid. No sir! Justice you get if your offer is attractive enough.

And the widow? She fits an Old Testament picture: the widow to whom justice was so often denied, who was cheated by lawyers appointed to take care of her estate – one of the outcasts for whom Jesus was concerned.

Our widow here has a tough time getting justice from the judge, no matter how long and how tearfully she pleads. So what does she do? She makes a nuisance of herself. Luke gives no details, but if you use your imagination, you can see her throwing stones at the judge's bedroom window at midnight, hounding him on the streets, crashing his party.

Finally, the judge has had it; he breaks down, not because the widow has put the fear of God into him, not because he now cares for helpless widows. She is simply wearing him out. He is going out of his mind from sleepless nights. Gourmet food gives him heartburn. He has to sneak out of his own house, turn the lights out when he's in.

"All right," he says, "you win. Whatever you want, you've got. Just leave me alone in peace … please!"

The lesson of the parable? The Gospel makes it clear beyond doubt. If sheer persistence can prevail on a dishonest judge to do justice, how much more will an upright God listen to the persistent prayer of his own, "His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night!"

So much for the parable. But the parable raises a perplexing question: Isn't Jesus being naïve? On the one hand, you have his absolute assurance that persistence in prayer will prevail. It fits in beautifully with his other encouraging teachings: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." "Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will." "Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it." "If you have faith no bigger than a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, `Move from here to over there,' and it will move."

On the other hand, you have in apparent contradiction a whole history of everyday experience. I see a young man of 23 dying of cancer, a girl of 7 dying of leukemia, despite the profound faith, the persistent tears and prayers of family and friends. I hear thousands and thousands of people literally fleeing the volcanic eruptions and on rushing lahar that cover their homes, people competing with snakes for a place of safety on rooftops amidst flood water, father of families, who die of heart attack, or terrorist bombs. The list can go on and on of sorrow-laden people of your own experience and mine, who prayed to God and were disappointed.

Perhaps what can be most helpful is the experience of Job in the Old Testament. Here is a man utterly blameless, totally God-fearing. Suddenly all he has is destroyed: livestock, house, servants, sons and daughters. A disease gives him constant pain, keeps him sleepless, and makes him ugly to the eye. He is an outcast to human society. He lives in a garbage dump. People spit when they see him. His wife's advice? "Curse God, and die."

Job is terribly confused. Why is this happening to him? He loves God, wants only to please Him. Then why has God turned on him, turned hostile, oppressive? Close to despair, he curses the day he was born, begs God to just leave him alone.

In Job's wrestling with God there are two splendid moments. The first is Job's act of faith, of trust. God only seems to have changed; He still cares. If Job's sufferings made no sense, God has His own reasons. And still, though faith dissolves Job's doubts, it does not diminish his desolation. The sharpest torment of all is still there: a dark night of the soul. He cannot "get through" to God. He used to experience God's presence, now he experiences God's absence.

And the second splendid moment? At last God speaks to Job. He shows Himself to this anguished believer, this rebellious lover, who has raged against his situation, has demanded that God justifies His ways.

But notice God says nothing to Job about his suffering and its meaning. He does not explain. And Job does not say, "Ah yes, Now I understand. Thank you." The real experience is simply the encounter. God lets Job find Him. And in the encounter Job is happy to disown his speculations, his complaints.

Like you and me, Job had to face the problem of evil – Why do the innocent suffer, the wicked prosper? Why does God not "vindicate His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night?" Why does He "delay too long over them?" In the face of evil, Job found human wisdom bankrupt. His anguished questioning ended in a theophany – God manifests Himself to Job – not to defend His wisdom, but to stress His mystery. Job trusted God not because he could prove that God merited his trust, but because he had experienced God. Only trust makes evil endurable – trust not because God has offered proof, but because God has shown His face.

This suggests a third point – something over and above the point of the parable, but not irrelevant to it. You sit here in the church because God has gifted you with an incredible power, the power to believe, on His word, that God has shown His face in Christ, that the same Christ who died and rose for you is here among us, here within you, hidden here in what looks like bread and tastes like wine.

This you believe. But your belief risks turning sterile unless the God who once showed His face in Christ shows His face to you. I mean the experience of God, who is as real to you as the person sitting next to you. I mean a relationship, where you not only know truths about God, you know God. I mean a relationship of love – a love for God so intense that it rivals the love Christ reached out to you on the cross.

This is the kind of relationship, the kind of love, you must have if you are to live Christianity with that eternal why: "Why, dear God, did you let this happen? How could you and still be God?" You will not answer it with Aristotelian logic. You can live through it with crucified love.

My dear brothers and sisters, one final caution. Despite the unresolved questions to which it gives rise; we have much to learn from "the case of the invincible widow." Whatever your sad experience with prayer, with the prayer of petition, God still wants you to "hang in there." Like Moses against the Amalek, hold your hands high; however weary your arms, till the sun goes down – and after. Like the powerless widow, make a nuisance of yourself. Storm heaven like crazy; don't let the Lord rest even on the Sabbath. You just might prove enough of a nuisance to get what you want – especially if what you want is woven of love.


LUKE 12:8-12

It's very strange to hear Jesus, particularly in Luke's gospel, speak about an unforgivable sin. The portrait Luke paints of Jesus is of a man whose arms are constantly open to sinners, who seemingly is incapable of refusing forgiveness to sinners. Yet there it is. Jesus in Luke speaks of the unforgivable sin, as he does also in the gospels of Mark and Matthew.

It's Mark and Matthew who give the context in which Jesus made this statement. The Pharisees had just claimed that Jesus was possessed by Beelzebul, that he drove out demons by the power of the prince of demons.

The Pharisees had looked at Jesus working miracles and driving demons out of people possessed. What they saw was Jesus possessed by Beelzebul, driving demons out of people possessed by the power of the prince of demons. They looked at Jesus and saw Satan; they witnessed the obviously God-sanctioned works of Jesus and saw Satan at work. They blinded themselves to the goodness and truth in Jesus.

Because they so blinded themselves, they could no longer discern between evil and sin when confronted by them. Since they could no longer see sin as sin, they no longer saw the need for repentance. They were mired permanently in their sin. They had made themselves impermeable by the grace of the Spirit.

We also face this danger. Sin must be recognized as sin, evil as evil, truth and goodness as truth and goodness. If I get in the habit of not seeing sin where there is sin, I will lose my ability to discern good and evil. Though culpable, I will be incapable of repentance. I will have blinded myself.

In yesterday's gospel Jesus warned the disciples to avoid the "leaven of the Pharisees." He told them that by leaven he meant the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Honesty, absolute honesty is needed, the freedom to recognize myself as a sinner in need of repentance and reconciliation. If I am honest, I open myself to the Holy Spirit. He will move me to sorrow for my sin and to reconciliation with Jesus and the Father.



JUNE 16, 2005

Brothers and sisters: If only you would put up with a little
foolishness from me! Please put up with me. For I am jealous of you
with the jealousy of God, since I betrothed you to one husband to
present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that, as
the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts may be
corrupted from a sincere and pure commitment to Christ. For if
someone comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or
if you receive a different spirit from the one you received or a
different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it well
enough. For I think that I am not in any way inferior to
these "superapostles." Even if I am untrained in speaking, I am not
so in knowledge; in every way we have made this plain to you in all
things. Did I make a mistake when I humbled myself so that you might
be exalted, because I preached the Gospel of God to you without
charge? I plundered other churches by accepting from them in order to
minister to you. And when I was with you and in need, I did not
burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my
needs. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way.
By the truth of Christ in me, this boast of mine shall not be
silenced in the regions of Achaia. And why? Because I do not love
you? God knows I do!

MATTHEW 6:7-15
Jesus said to his disciples: "In praying, do not babble like the
pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many
words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before
you ask him. "This is how you are to pray: `Our Father who art in
heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on
earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and
forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against
us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." "If
you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will
forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your
Father forgive your transgressions."

How may of us wish to have a dynamic fulfilling prayer life? Then
listen to what Jesus has to say in today's gospel reading and take it
to heart. Jesus warns us not to pray like the gentiles who use
meaningless repetition when we pray. We should pray neither like the
Pharisees, for public recognition. It does not mean that we are not
to be persistent in our prayers. Meaningless repetition seems to
indicate reciting memorized prayers without thinking about what you
are saying, or multiplying words, not for the sake of communicating
anything thoughtful, but for lengthening the prayer in an attempt to
gain God's attention. Pagan incantations, for example, often used
every imaginable name for the god they were invoking, hoping at least
one of them would "stick." This kind of flowery rhetoric, or even
nonsense syllables, common in pagan magical incantations, does not
impress God. Jesus does not want heartless prayers. Jesus tells us
that meaningless repetition does not catch God's attention because He
already knows what you need before you ask.

That begs the question, "Why pray?" if God knows our needs. We are to
pray so as to genuinely communicate with God and to lay our needs
before him. When Jesus formulated for us the "Our Father", he did not
say: "Pray this prayer." What Jesus actually said was: "Pray then in
this way." In other words Jesus is giving us a pattern to follow, not
necessarily words to repeat. Jesus is not giving us a magic formula
that will solve all of our woes if we repeat the prayer enough.

One of the first elements of a fulfilling prayer life is
understanding who God is. Jesus says that God is our Father and as a
Father, he wants only the best for us. Now if God our Father is holy,
it is only becoming that we also be holy. As the saying goes, "Like
Father, like son."

When we pray this prayer, we are not only expressing our hope that
God's will be done, but that we will be active participants in the
ushering in of His will upon earth. We understand that God is the
best thing for a person and we want God to be a part of all of our
lives. When we understand whom we are praying to, it can add
excitement to our prayer lives. Can you imagine being able to go to
the most powerful person in the world with your needs?

In prayer Jesus would also like us to acknowledge our sinfulness and
our need for forgiveness. Our God is a God of forgiveness. When we
realize how much God has forgiven us, then we cannot help but forgive
other people.

Jesus gives us a wonderful model of prayer to follow. Jesus did not
give us a magic formula to recite. He wants us to pray from the
heart. Do not neglect the great gift that God has given to us. Pray
daily, pray all the time.

"Father in heaven, you have given me a mind to know you, a will to
serve you, and a heart to love you. Give me today the grace and
strength to embrace your holy will and fill my heart with your love
that all my intentions and actions may be pleasing to you. Give me
the grace to be charitable in thought, kind in deed, and forgiving
towards my neighbor as you have been towards me".

We pray ...
- for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the
- for the personal intentions of Mary Wong and Lawrence.
- for thanksgiving and special intentions of Ma. Eufrocenri Navarro.
- For the safe travel of Cherie Torres.
- For the personal intentions of Particia M.
- For the safe travel of Jesus L. Ventura, for the constant safety
and good health of his family and for his other intentions.
- Birthday: Cecille T. Cheng.
- In Memoriam: Teofilo V. Mendoza. Eternal rest grant unto him
and may perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.
- for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary.
- Wedding Anniversary: Jeanette & Atty. Biddy Tan
- Wedding Anniversary: James & Josie T. Gotamco
- Wedding Anniversary: Cresencio & Celia C. Jao
- In Memoriam: Yu Leng Tiu (1907-1994)
- In Memoriam: Dr. Antonio de Ocampo (1925-2004)
- for world peace and reconciliation.

Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our
prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.

Have a good day!

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