Proclaiming Christ in the Midst of Lies

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There is so much conflict, turmoil and violence in the world today
– in and among individuals,
in and among families,
in society and the different sectors in it,
in and among nations.
The division is even more sharp and pronounced in my Philippines,
which is even made more pronounced
because of the sea of lies and falsehoods that are peddles by almost everyone.

We all long for peace.
Yet, there cannot be peace unless there is justice.
And then, Christ challenges us to work beyond justice
and temper it with compassion and mercy.
This is where it really gets problematic.
People will take advantage if you do that
and then there is even greater injustice.
Christ says: “I know; but do it anyway.”
He did and he ended up on the cross.
Is the cross then an utter folly
or the fullness of love and wisdom?

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Today is Laetare (Rejoice!) Sunday. It is a day of joy and hope in the midst of Lent a season of penance and repentance. The Gospel today includes the most beautiful passage in the gospels:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, 
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish 
but might have eternal life.

Love is the greatest commandment. But love, I fear, has been corrupted during our times. Love is doing good for and to others. Love is keeping loved ones from harm and hurt. Love is sparing loved ones from pain and sufferings. And a great saint once said, “Love and you can do as you wish.”

There is today a permissiveness and licentiousness that pervades society and many relationships. Parents would give their children anything to keep them from crying or to keep them quiet or have them enjoy those things they (the parents) missed growing up. They would even try to save them from all pain and suffering; thereby denying them lessons and wisdom they would have learned, or growth they would have achieved, or strength they may have gained.

Relationships which used to be frowned upon or even taboo in the past are now tolerated and accepted in the name of equality. As long as the people in the relationship are “mutually consenting adults”, anything is permissible. And in the end, everyone just tries to do only that which feels good, specially that which is good for me and mine.

Lent would disabuse us of such corruptions of love. Prayer keeps us connected with the source of love we proclaim. Fasting reminds us that but for the grace of God, we are nothing. Almsgiving keeps is empty so that the love of God may come in. So that, we will not forget that the glory and joy of Easter could not have happened without the passion, death and cross of Christ, who promised us eternal live but not to take away our pain and suffering. Only that these are all worth our efforts to arrive where He said He would bring us. We need discipline to endure Calvary.




Posted in Character, Children, Discipleship, Spirituality | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Glimpsing At Eternity


When something man-made breaks down,
that is usually the end of the useful life of that object,
be it a piece of furniture, a toy, an electronic gadget, or a car.
When something in nature (that is, God-made) breaks down or dies,
something new and more wonderful comes out of the destruction or the decay.
A seed falls to the ground, dies, rots and then a new plant sprouts out of the decay.
Leaves fall and decompose and out of the decay comes compost
that will nurture and nourish new plants and tree saplings.
Stars explode and new stars are born.
And out of the stellar bang comes the dust and the mud
from which man has been fashioned out.

“Behold, I make all things new.”
Out of human weakness, pain, and suffering will spring forth new and eternal life.
Life is such a wonderful experience many people are loathe to leave it.
Death is such a great unknown many people are loathe to face it.
Yet, there is life after death.
Science, for all the wonderful technologies and conveniences
it has brought into our lives today,
has neither the facility nor the categories to explain life after death.
But anyone who has imbibed the beauty of nature
(such as hiking up an awesome vista or watching a blazing sunset)
or have seen people coming together in peace and love
(as in the EDSA I People Power revolution)
or have seen grace at work in forgiveness and reconciliation
(as in seeing young children lining up to do their first confession)
will have had a glimpse of eternity.

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More Poems from Fr. Abe

Poem 6


Poem 7


Poem 8


Poem 9

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The Hike That Is My Life


When we hike, we usually do a loop. It never fails that my favorite quote from TS Eliot comes to mind, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

I am about to close out another loop, a big one, that is my life. And everyday feels like I am knowing or doing things, people, places, and events for the first time. Oh, I miss the days when I was chasing after my BHAG – ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goals’ – a mantra I was enamored with when I was still worshipping at the altar of Collins and Porras, they of “Built To Last” and “Good To Great” fame. I saw everything as a challenge, a struggle to overcome. My default choice was always to go against the current: Be different! Make a difference! Do the unexpected! Go against the flow!

These days, I have greatly slowed down my pace. I go with the flow. I let go and let God. My daily goals and long-term plans are simple and ordinary: where to hike this weekend? what to have for dinner? whom among our friends or family to visit? how to meet the numbers I promised my doctor I would achieve?

But every once in a while, God comes in to remind me that He is in control of my life, like He is telling me, “I am not done with you yet. There are still some things I want to show you, some lessons for you to learn.”

The past weeks have simply been wondrously unbelievable. Mickey and Julia got married in a wedding that will be long remembered. Martin and Kathleen are raising two budding artist, one a promising rock star and the other a budding star of musicals. Macky and Lani are expecting their first baby. And this morning, they tell me that he got his full scholarship to pursue graduate studies abroad. Sure, there were bumps along the road, like a miscarriage and a death in the family. Still in all, I have this gratifying and warm feeling that everything in falling into place.

Often in the past, I was reticent about sharing such blessings with others afraid that I might jinx it and lose them. But what the heck! My heart is bursting with joy and gratitude, I just have to share them. I know I am nearing the end of my lifetime hike and I will soon close the loop and arrive where I started. All of these happenings are like the denouement of a play or a novel where the loose ends are finally tied up and the story comes to its happy ending.

But like TS Eliot has said, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

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Imagining A Better World. Again.

Man, for all the goodness in him, can fall prey to perversions of tragic proportions.
Thus, we see lawmakers and government officials
who in their hubris think they are above the law.
There are some priests and religious
who in their self-righteousness believe they are beyond sinning.
There are businessmen and entrepreneurs
who in their greed and selfishness see everything, and often everyone,
as theirs for the taking and for amassing.

I imagine a world where people live in peace and harmony
where laws and regulations will no longer be needed
for everyone will be loving and respecting others.
And it is possible. It can be done.
Here are people living in centuries-old enmity
who refuse to be enemies any longer:

I imagine a world where people truly care for others, for the environment
and for people who are different from them,
when people will no longer hate others nor do violence against them.
Here are some lessons on revolutionary love in times of rage, anger and hate:


I imagine a world where hunger and poverty are finally vanquished,
with greed and selfishness vanished from the human mind.
We have the tools and resources to finally defeat poverty, hunger, sickness, and illiteracy.
Here is a doable action plan suggested by a human development professional
born out of his field experiences:


But there will always be tears and heartaches even as man seeks for perfection and make this world a better place. In prayer, I humbly acknowledge that I am not immune to such tendencies and fervently ask not to be led me into temptation but to be delivered from all evil that surround me, but specially of the evil that is within me. I will be forgiving of those who have me as I ask for forgiveness from those whom I have hurt and wounded.

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Life, Intentional not Accidental


I am intentional, not accidental.
I refuse to accept or to believe that I am an accident.
There may not be any compelling reason why I should exist.
Yet, there is Someone who intended that I should.
In the vast sea of humanity, Somebody meant me to be me.

Man has imagination, reason and will.
We can choose to act of a whim or an impulse.
But often, we act for an intention.
We have dreams; we have plans.
We set up goals and work to achieve them.
Yes, what I do and what I say
spring from these goals and dreams,
as well as my values, my morals, my ideals.

But once my actions and my words are done by me,
their consequences are out of my control.
Sometimes, they bring me the results I want.
Other times, I get results better than I expected.
And still other times, I get no results at all,
or exactly the opposite of what I intended.
Yet, in the overall scheme of my life,
there is definitely an amazing story unfolding.

If not intended, would again all of these accidental?
I believe in synchronicity, when things simply fall into place.
Then there is serendipity, when when the totally unexpected happens.
But the more these happen and i see a pattern,
I am simply awed and I say, “This must be grace.”

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