image3

DAILY REFLECTIONS / REFLEXIÓN DIARIA

FOOD THAT GIVES LIFE / ALIMENTOS QUE DA VIDA

We are sharing daily reflections to help nourish our spirit every day of our life. It is hoped that this will provide us moments to reflect deeper on the words of the scriptures, lives of saints, or just random thoughts that can help invigorate our mind and spirit, direct our life and decisions, and impel us to action. May we be true witnesses of the Word of God and bring His love to those around us and uplift the world with hope.


Estamos compartiendo reflexiones diarias para ayudar a nutrir nuestro espíritu todos los días de nuestra vida. Se espera que esto nos brinde momentos para reflexionar más profundamente sobre las palabras de las Escrituras, las vidas de los santos, o simplemente pensamientos aleatorios que pueden ayudar a vigorizar nuestra mente y espíritu, dirigir nuestra vida y decisiones, y nos impulsan a la acción. Que seamos verdaderos testigos de la Palabra de Dios y traigamos su amor a quienes nos rodean y elevemos el mundo con esperanza.

EASTER SUNDAY

IS THERE A TOMORROW?

April 12, 2020


Two days ago, I heard the news that the statewide “stay at home” order will be extended once again. It is now until May 15, 2020. Nobody is thrilled by this announcement. Rather we all feel the dread that this extension may create in our lives and how we are going to be affected in many aspects of our life. We have been discussing how this will be affecting our staff and our school. We are trying to stretch as much resources that we can in order to ensure that we can be able to support the salary of everyone. Our personal sacrifices will not be enough. This extension might be the nail that will seal the coffin. It will demand greater sacrifice not only from us but from our staff as well.


Can we still expect a tomorrow? 


Early in the morning Mary Magdalene was going to the tomb. She was going to the tomb already heartbroken. Her hope was dashed into pieces when she saw Jesus died on the cross. Then she saw how hurriedly the body of Jesus was prepared for burial. Jesus does not deserve such hasty preparation. She understood that it was because the Passover celebration. She decided that she would return the next day and she would anoint the body properly. This would be her last opportunity to show how much she loved him. 

Just imagine her disbelief when she arrived at the tomb, the stone that sealed the tomb was removed from the tomb. Judging from her reaction, the way the stone was removed suggest that something wrong had happened. She concluded that somebody stole the body of Jesus. Confounded by the discovery, she needed to report the incident to the apostles. 


Mary was distraught. She lost everything when Jesus’ body disappeared. It is just one tragedy after another. 

The response of two of the apostles was instantaneous. There was no afterthought about how safe it would be to go out of hiding. They raced to the grave to ascertain the truth of the news. 


The gospel provided us with the reaction of each apostles. One was speechless. The other one believed.

Realities can be overwhelming. It can take away our peace of mind, our equilibrium, and even our sanity. We do not know how to respond. We panic. We begin to expect the worst. We begin to think that nothing good will come out of it. We start to feel paralyzed. We do not know what to do.


The message of the gospel will always be that suffering and death are not the last word. Sickness is not the last word. God has the last word. This will all come to pass, and one thing will remain. God is faithful to his promise. Everything has a purpose and there is a reason for everything that is happening.


We are called to be like the other apostle who saw everything and believed. What did he saw that made him believe? What was it that he believed in? 


He saw that the “the cloth that had covered his head, [is] not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.” It was that little detail that made a difference in the way he saw the situation. He believed that Jesus lives but still do not know how. It is as this moment of confusion that he believed in what Jesus has revealed to them while he was still with them.


He would have to be patient to allow Jesus to reveal himself at the proper time and at the proper moment. 

The one thing that came to mind as I was reflecting on the gospel was: Easter egg hunting. You might wonder why this activity has significance in message of the gospel today. I believe we are on a quest to discover the Easter eggs that Jesus has hidden within our home and in our surrounding, in the condition that we are undergoing, and even in the suffering pain that we are experiencing. It is within something that we least expect. It is underneath the realities that we never bother to consider. We would even be surprised that all the time it was under our nose but never found it because our sight is elsewhere.


Will there be a tomorrow? 


My answer is a resounding: Yes!!! 


There is a tomorrow because I realize that people recover and are healed despite that fact that there were those who died. I see breakthroughs when we are overwhelmed by problems. I discover goodness that is welling up in most unlikely places and persons. I perceive a rediscovery of faith that was shrouded in situations when all seems better, when we thought we do not need God. I encounter opportunities to grow and to shine out amid limitations and shortcomings. We find ways and means when we are pushed against the wall. We discover a great wealth of something else when all we see is emptiness. 


In all of these I see the hand of God constantly at work to bring out something good in what we are experiencing today.


Will there be a tomorrow?


Yes there will be a tomorrow but it will be different. And the difference lies in how we see our reality, what we are doing now, and how much of our attitude has changed. There will be a tomorrow and we can look at it with hope. As we have died with Christ, we shall also rise into new life with Him.


I would like to ask some questions for us to reflect deeper on this Easter message. Are we able to discover the hidden Easter eggs? Would we discover them by the end of this day? Would it help us see and believe? 


Fr. Pius Pareja, MMHC

image4

DOMINGO DE PASCUA

¿HAY UN MAÑANA?

12 de abril de 2020


Hace dos días escuché la noticia de que la orden en todo el estado de "quedarse en casa" se extenderá una vez más. Ahora es hasta el 15 de mayo de 2020. Nadie está entusiasmado con este anuncio. Más bien, todos sentimos el temor que esta extensión puede crear en nuestras vidas y cómo nos veremos afectados en muchos aspectos de nuestra vida. Hemos estado discutiendo cómo esto afectará a nuestros personales y nuestra escuela. Estamos tratando de extender la mayor cantidad de recursos que podamos para garantizar que podamos mantener el salario de todos. Nuestros sacrificios personales no serán suficientes. Esta extensión podría ser el clavo que sellará el ataúd. Exigirá un mayor sacrificio no solo de nosotros sino también de nuestros personales.


¿Todavía podemos esperar un mañana?


Temprano en la mañana, María Magdalena iba a la tumba. Iba a la tumba ya con el corazón roto. Su esperanza se hizo trizas cuando vio a Jesús morir en la cruz. Después de lo cual ella vio cuán apresuradamente el cuerpo de Jesús estaba preparado para el entierro. Jesús no merece tal preparación apresurada. Ella entendió que era porque la celebración de la Pascua. Decidió que regresaría al día siguiente y ungiría el cuerpo correctamente. Esta sería su última oportunidad para mostrar cuánto lo amaba.


Imagine su incredulidad cuando llegó a la tumba, la piedra que la selló fue retirada de la tumba. A juzgar por su reacción, la forma en que se quitó la piedra sugiere que algo malo había sucedido. Ella concluyó que alguien robó el cuerpo de Jesús. Confundida por el descubrimiento, necesitaba informar el incidente a los apóstoles.


María y estaba angustiada. Ella perdió todo cuando el cuerpo de Jesús desapareció. Es solo una tragedia tras otra.


La respuesta de dos de los apóstoles fue instantánea. No se pensó en lo seguro que sería salir de su escondite. Corrieron a la tumba para averiguar la verdad de las noticias.


El evangelio nos proporcionó la reacción de cada apóstol. Uno no tenía idea. El otro creyó.

Las realidades pueden ser abrumadoras. Puede eliminar nuestra tranquilidad, nuestro equilibrio e incluso nuestra cordura o sensatez. No sabemos cómo responder. Tenemos pánico. Comenzamos a esperar lo peor. Comenzamos a pensar que nada bueno saldrá de eso. Comenzamos a sentirnos paralizados. No sabemos qué hacer.


El mensaje del evangelio siempre será que el sufrimiento y la muerte no son la última palabra. La enfermedad no es la última palabra. Dios tiene la última palabra. Todo esto sucederá, y una cosa quedará. Dios es fiel a su promesa. Todo tiene un propósito y hay una razón para todo lo que está sucediendo.

Estamos llamados a ser como el otro apóstol que vio todo y creyó. ¿Qué vio él que lo hizo creer? ¿En qué creía?


“Contempló los lienzos puestos en el suelo y el sudario, que había estado sobre la cabeza de Jesús, puesto no con los lienzos en el suelo, sino doblado en sitio aparte." Fue ese pequeño detalle lo que marcó la diferencia en la forma en que veía la situación. Él creía que Jesús vive, pero aún no sabe cómo. Es en este momento de confusión que creyó en lo que Jesús les reveló mientras todavía estaba con ellos.

Tendría que ser paciente para permitir que Jesús se revelara en el momento adecuado y en el momento correcto.


Lo único que me vino a la mente al reflexionar sobre el Evangelio fue: la búsqueda de huevos de Pascua. Quizás se pregunte por qué esta actividad tiene importancia en el mensaje del evangelio hoy. Creo que estamos en una búsqueda para descubrir los huevos de Pascua que Jesús ha escondido dentro de nuestro hogar y en nuestro entorno, en la condición que estamos experimentando, e incluso en el sufrimiento y el dolor que estamos experimentando. Está dentro de algo que menos esperamos. Es debajo de las realidades que nunca nos molestamos en considerar. Incluso nos sorprendería que todo el tiempo estuviera bajo nuestras narices, pero nunca lo encontramos porque nuestra vista está en otra parte.

¿Habrá un mañana?


Mi respuesta es un rotundo: ¡Sí! 


Hay un mañana porque me doy cuenta de que las personas se recuperan y se curan a pesar de que hubo quienes murieron. Veo avances cuando estamos abrumados por los problemas. Descubro la bondad que está brotando en los lugares y personas más improbables. Percibo un redescubrimiento de la fe envuelto en situaciones en que todo parece mejor, cuando pensamos que no necesitamos a Dios. Encuentro oportunidades para crecer y brillar en medio de limitaciones y deficiencias. Encontramos formas y medios cuando nos empujan contra la pared. Descubrimos una gran riqueza de algo más cuando todo lo que vemos es el vacío.


En todo esto veo las manos de Dios constantemente trabajando para sacar algo bueno de lo que estamos experimentando hoy.


¿Habrá un mañana?


Sí, habrá un mañana, pero será diferente. Y la diferencia radica en cómo vemos nuestra realidad, qué estamos haciendo ahora y cuánto ha cambiado nuestra actitud. Habrá un mañana y podemos mirarlo con esperanza. Como hemos muerto con Cristo, también nos levantaremos a una nueva vida con Él.


Me gustaría hacer algunas preguntas para que reflexionemos más profundamente sobre este mensaje de Pascua. ¿Podemos descubrir los huevos de Pascua escondidos? ¿Los descubriríamos al final de este día? ¿Nos ayudaría a ver y creer?


P. Pio Pareja, MMHC

image5

HOLY WEEK - SATURDAY

DARKNESS AND SILENCE

April 11, 2020


The world seems to be standing still for a moment. All the frenzied activities of the past days were put to a halt. The Church is empty. It has given me enough time to reflect and listen. These are the words that entered my mind: DARKNESS and SILENCE.


After the death of Jesus, the world is enveloped in silence and darkness as the Lord is entombed in cave. In that stillness the world awaits the fulfillment of the promise. It is something welcomed and dreaded. It is easy to understand why it is a welcomed event. But why would it be something dreaded? For many of those who desired the death of Jesus, it is a judgment on their folly and close-mindedness. They would have to admit that they have been wrong all along. 


Jesus had used the parable of the seed in His teaching in some occasions and in varied instances. But in all its usage there is common denominator: the seed in order to grow it has to “die” first. The seed has to be buried into the earth. Its outer shell breaks open. It is only then that the seed starts to germinate, to take root, and then to grow. All of these happen in silence and darkness. 


Jesus welcomed this when He is entombed that we may not be afraid of the silence and darkness that we are called to experience in our own journey. We need to still the urge in us to freak out. Yes, silence and darkness can be intimidating especially to those who are used to the noise and the frenzied activities that we call as our ordinary way of life. 


One reason for these noise and activities that we enveloped ourselves in is our own reality of feeling alone. Despite the advancement of technology and mass communication we still find ourselves alone. Despite our close proximity with others, we still find ourselves alienated. Despite the fact that we have greater capacity to have more, our life still feels empty. Something is amiss. And instead of discovering a much better way of living, we continue to dig into our own grave of misery and alienation. We are like the seed in the pouches or cans unable to grow and reach our fullest potentials. We are in wrong situation of darkness and silence. 


Jesus has to enter into our own “place of hell” that He may draw us out of our prison and receive the grace of life and become more alive. He brings to the fore the ageless and timeless truth that we keep on forgetting and neglecting. It was necessary for Jesus to die before we are able to understand what He was saying. And until now continues to call us out of our own graves. 


As we await the stirring of new life within us, let us embrace this moment of darkness and silence and enter into the Paschal Mystery of Jesus. 


We are like seed waiting for the time break out of the shell. The first to grow out of the seed is the root. We are being called to immerse ourselves into the rich grace of God’s mercy and love - to be rooted in Him. For only by this act can we begin to draw into ourselves the grace to begin our growth out of the darkness into the wondrous light of a new life.

image6

SEMANA SANTA - SÁBADO

OSCURIDAD Y SILENCIO

11 de abril de 2020


El mundo parece estar parado por un momento. Todas las actividades frenéticas de los últimos días se detuvieron. La iglesia está vacía. Me ha dado suficiente tiempo para reflexionar y escuchar. Estas son las palabras que entraron en mi mente: OSCURIDAD y SILENCIO.


Después de la muerte de Jesús, el mundo está envuelto en silencio y oscuridad mientras el Señor está sepultado en una cueva. En esa quietud, el mundo espera el cumplimiento de la promesa. Es algo esperado y temido. Es fácil entender por qué es un evento esperado. ¿Pero por qué sería algo temido? Para muchos de los que deseaban la muerte de Jesús, es un juicio sobre su locura y su mentalidad cerrada. Tendrían que admitir que se han equivocado todo el tiempo.


Jesús había usado la parábola de la semilla en su enseñanza en algunas ocasiones y en variados casos. Pero en todo su uso hay algo común en todas sus enseñanzas: la semilla para crecer tiene que "morir" primero. La semilla tiene que ser enterrada en la tierra. Su cascara exterior se abre. Es solo entonces que la semilla comienza a germinar, a enraizarse y luego a crecer. Todo esto sucede en silencio y oscuridad.


Jesús aceptó esto cuando está sepultado para que no tengamos miedo del silencio y la oscuridad que estamos llamados a experimentar en nuestro propio viaje. Necesitamos calmar la urgencia en nosotros de enloquecer. Sí, el silencio y la oscuridad pueden ser intimidantes, especialmente para aquellos que están acostumbrados al ruido y las actividades frenéticas que llamamos nuestra forma de vida ordinaria.


Una razón de este ruido y actividades en las que nos envolvimos es nuestra propia realidad de sentirnos solos. A pesar del avance de la tecnología y la comunicación de masas, todavía nos encontramos solos. A pesar de nuestra proximidad con los demás, todavía nos encontramos alienados. A pesar de que tenemos una mayor capacidad para tener más, nuestra vida todavía se siente vacía. Algo está mal. Y en lugar de descubrir una forma de vida mucho mejor, seguimos cavando en nuestra propia tumba de miseria y alienación. Somos como la semilla en las bolsas o latas que no pueden crecer y alcanzar nuestro potencial máximo. Estamos en una situación equivocada de oscuridad y silencio.


Jesús tiene que entrar en nuestro propio "lugar del infierno" para poder sacarnos de nuestra prisión y recibir la gracia de la vida y volvernos más vivos. Se pone de manifiesto la verdad sin edad y sin tiempo que seguimos olvidando y descuidando. Era necesario que Jesús muriera antes de poder entender lo que estaba diciendo. Y hasta ahora continúa llamándonos de nuestras propias tumbas.


Mientras esperamos la agitación de una nueva vida dentro de nosotros, abracemos este momento de oscuridad y silencio y entremos en el misterio pascual de Jesús.


Somos como semillas esperando que el tiempo salga de la cáscara. El primero en crecer de la semilla es la raíz. Estamos llamados a sumergirnos en la gracia fértil de la misericordia y el amor de Dios, para arraigarnos en Él. Porque solo con este acto podemos comenzar a atraernos a nosotros mismos la gracia de comenzar nuestro crecimiento desde la oscuridad hacia la luz maravillosa de una nueva vida.


P. Pio Pareja, MMHC

image7

Holy week - friday

AS I GAZE ON THE CROSS

April 10, 2020


I remember a dream I had when I was very young. 


I heard people speaking about the crucifix that is planted on the ground at the backyard of a friend’s house. I got curious and decided to go and to find out what was causing this excitement. But before I was able to reach the place, I heard loud shrieks of fear and saw many running away from the place. I got carried away by their fear and I ran away also but not knowing why. But no matter where I turned the crucifix seemed to hovering above me, following me wherever I turned.  


At that point I woke up, gasping for breath. 


I would have forgotten it if that same dream did not recur when I was in high school. But in this dream, I was able to see the crucifix planted on the ground even before I got there. It was tilted a little bit backward. I could never forget the clarity of the face on that crucifix. It was looking towards me as if telling me something. But, just like in the first dream before I even actually reach the place, the same thing happened and the same fear gripped me and I ran away. And, just like in the first dream, the crucifix continued to hover above me, following me wherever I went. I could hide from it.


That dream was followed by another dream. It was dark and I hear very many voices wailing in agony. I became fearful as the sound got louder and louder as if it were coming near me. I woke up terrified. My parents were quite concerned because I was shouting in fear in my sleep. At that very moment, there was a large crowd of people along the street in front of our house doing the Way of the Cross.


From that time on I keep remembering these dreams. 


One day, one of my professors in theology asked if we have dreams that we can vividly remember.  I shared these dreams and what he gave as an explanation astounded me and helped me in my discernment. He told me that I truly have a vocation to become a priest. You may ask: why it helped me in my discernment? At that time, I was thinking of leaving the seminary and pursue another vocation in life.


What is it in the cross? 


I would often see it as a sign of death. I would see it in every tomb, in every cemetery I visited. I fear death and whenever I think about dying and death I would run to the corner of the house trembling with fear and I would cry. When my mother would see me this way, she would always tell me not to worry. I will still live a long life. That did not comfort me for I would still have to die one day.


I would often see it as a sign of suffering and pain. The corpus on the cross is often covered with wounds and blood. Pain and suffering is etched in the very face of the person on the cross. I am so sensitive to pain that when it hurts, I feel it all over me. When I was a child, I would run away from any injection if I could. I remember one time I tried running away from the dental clinic. Because of frustration, the dentist extracted my tooth without anesthesia when they finally got hold of me. They had to do it quickly before I could run away again. It was done while my mother pinned me down on the floor with her body and the assistant held my head firmly and forced my mouth open. It was swift and the tooth was removed.


It was also, for me, a sign of shame and defeat. What could be worse than being raised up high on the very symbol of shame and everyone else is looking at you? How would you feel when others ridicule and mock you? And what is worst than being left alone by your so-called friends? What could be more frustrating than seeing those you have helped, healed, and taught turning against you? What could be harder to swallow than realizing that after you have given up everything, you feel that it was all for nothing?  


Now, as I look back after 57 years of journeying in this life, I see the cross differently.  


I still see it as a sign of death but it is now a cross that gives life. I do not look at it with dread. I can look at death with hope. Death has become for me a door through which I enter into something better and the cross is the key that opens it. In whatever circumstances I am in, the cross provides a glimmer of hope for something better and amazing. If I enter into my physical death, I believe in the life Jesus has gained for me by His death on the cross. If I have to die to my selfishness, I am able to help, to serve and to sustain the life of another. I grow into a life that is fulfilling and blessed. If I have to die to my pride, I give birth to reconciliation and better relationship. If I die to my attachments, I realize a life that is free, unfettered and unburdened.  


I still would still see it as an experience of suffering and pain. But now it has a reason and purpose. I would not see it as wasted and useless. When I embrace my own pain and struggles, I understand better the struggles and pain of others. It leads me to be more compassionate and understanding. I recognize the woundedness of others. I would see clearly their desire to be understood rather than judged, to be embraced rather than be despised, to be welcomed rather than be rejected. When I open myself to my own sufferings and pains, whenever I offer them with Jesus on the cross they become a means of grace for others. They become salvific. It also has given me strength of character and the capacity to bear the unkindness of others.

I still see the cross as a sign of shame and defeat. It makes me see all my failures and the shame it has caused me not as an end but an opportunity for God to help me. It has empowered me to rise above my own failures. It has given me the grace of hope that I have a God who would not let go when He could have. Instead he embrace all that is negative in me and nailed it to the cross with Himself that He may set me free me. God has not given up on me and I should not give up on myself as well. I should not give up on others either. All the more I am challenged to embrace the defeated, the outcast, the misunderstood, the lonely, the weak, and the dying in the hope that that the embrace I give would empower them as well to see beyond their shame and seeming defeat; that is, to believe and to hope once again.


Above all, the cross is God’s unconditional and great LOVE. That is the underlying principle that transformed all these negative aspects of the cross into something ineffable and great.  

As we gaze upon the cross, what do we see now?


Fr. Pius Pareja, MMHC

image8

SEMANA SANTA - VIERNES

COMO ME VEO EN LA CRUZ

10 de abril de 2020


Recuerdo un sueño que tuve cuando era un jovencillo.


Escuché a personas hablar sobre el crucifijo que está plantado en el suelo en el patio de la casa de un amigo. Sentí curiosidad y decidí ir y averiguar qué estaba causando esta agitación. Pero antes de que pudiera llegar al lugar, escuché fuertes gritos de temor y muchos huir del lugar. Me dejé llevar por su miedo y también me escapé sin saber por qué. Pero no importaba por dónde giraba, el crucifijo parecerá estar flotando sobre mí, siguiéndome por donde sea que giraba.


En ese momento me desperté,  jadeando por respirar.


Lo habría olvidado si ese mismo sueño no se repitiera cuando estaba en la escuela secundaria. Pero en este sueño pude ver el crucifijo plantado en el suelo incluso antes de llegar allí. Estaba inclinado un poco hacia atrás. Jamás podía olvidar la claridad de la cara en ese crucifijo. Me miraba como para decirme algo. Pero, al igual que en el primer sueño, incluso antes de llegar al lugar, sucedió lo mismo y el mismo miedo se apoderó de mí y me escapé. Y al igual que en el primero, el crucifijo continuó flotando sobre mí siguiéndome a donde quiera que me fuera. No pude esconderme de ello.


A ese sueño le siguió otro. Estaba oscuro y escuchaba muchísimas voces que lloraban en agonía. Me asusté cuando el sonido se hizo más y más fuerte como si se me acercara. Me desperté aterrorizado. Mis padres se preocuparon porque estaba gritando de miedo mientras dormía. En ese mismo momento, una gran multitud pasaba a lo largo de la calle frente a nuestra casa haciendo el Vía Crucis.

Desde de ese momento, sigo recordando estos sueños.


Un día, uno de mis profesores de teología nos preguntó si teníamos sueños que recordarnos vívidamente. Compartí estos sueños y, lo que él dio como una explicación, me asombró y me ayudó en mi discernimiento. Me dijo que realmente tengo una vocación de ser sacerdote. Puedes preguntar: ¿por qué me ayudó en mi discernimiento? En ese momento, pensaba dejar el seminario y seguir otra vocación en la vida.

¿Qué hay en la cruz?


A menudo lo vía como un signo de muerte. Lo vía en cada tumba, en cada cementerio que visité. Temo a la muerte y cada vez que pienso en morir y en la muerte, corría a la esquina de la casa, temblando de miedo y lloraba. Cuando mi madre me veía de esta manera, siempre me decía que no me preocupara. Todavía viviría una larga vida. Eso no me consolaba porque aún tendría que morir algún día.


A menudo lo vía como un signo de sufrimiento y de dolor. El cuerpo en la cruz a menudo está cubierto de heridas y sangre. Grabada en misma su cara hay dolor y sufrimiento. Soy tan sensible al dolor que cuando me duele, lo siento por todas partes. Cuando era niño, huiría de cualquier inyección, si pudiera. Recuerdo una vez que intenté escaparme de la clínica dental. Debido a la frustración, cuando finalmente me pescaron, la dentista me extrajo el diente sin anestesia. Tienen que hacerlo rápido, antes de que puedo huir de nuevo. Se hizo mientras mi madre me sujetaba al suelo con su cuerpo y la asistente sostuvo firmemente mi cabeza y me mantenía la boca abierta. Fue rápido y se extrajo el diente.


También fue, para mí, un signo de vergüenza y derrota. ¿Qué podría ser peor que ser elevado en el mismo símbolo de la vergüenza y que todos los demás te estén mirando? ¿Cómo te sentirías siendo ridiculizado y burlado por los demás? ¿Y qué es peor que quedarse abandonado por tus supuestos amigos? ¿Qué podría ser más frustrante que ver a aquellos a que has ayudado, sanado y enseñado volverse en contra de ti? ¿Qué podría ser más difícil de tragar que darse cuenta que, después de haber renunciado a todo, sentir que fue para nada?


Ahora, cuando miro hacia atrás después de 57 años de viaje en esta vida, veo la cruz de una manera diferente.


Todavía lo veo como un signo de muerte, pero ahora es una cruz que da vida. No lo miro con temor. Puedo mirar a la muerte con esperanza. La muerte se ha convertido para mí en una puerta por la cual entro en algo mejor, y la cruz es la llave que la abre. En cualquieras circunstancias en que me encuentre, la cruz ofrece un atisbo de esperanza para algo mejor y sorprendente. Si entro en mi muerte física, creo en la vida que Jesús me ha ganado por su muerte en la cruz. Si tengo que morir a mi egoísmo, puedo ayudar, servir y sostener la vida de otro. Creceré en una vida satisfactoria y bendecida. Si tengo que morir a mi orgullo, doy a luz a la reconciliación y una mejor relación. Si muero por mis apegos, vivo de una vida libre, sin restricciones y sin carga.


Todavía lo vería como una experiencia de sufrimiento y dolor. Pero ahora tiene una razón y un propósito. No lo vería como desperdiciado e inútil. Cuando abrazo mi propio dolor y mis luchas, entiendo mejor las luchas y el dolor de los demás. Me lleva a ser más compasivo y comprensivo. Reconozco las heridas de los demás. Claramente vería sus deseos de ser entendidos y no juzgados, de ser aceptados y no despreciados, de ser bienvenidos y no rechazados. Cuando me abro a mis propios sufrimientos y dolores, se convierten en un medio de gracia para los demás cuando los ofrezco con Jesús en la cruz. Se convierten salvíficos. También me han dado fuerza de carácter y la capacidad de soportar la crueldad ajena.


Todavía veo la cruz como un signo de vergüenza y derrota. Me hace ver todas mis fallas y la vergüenza que me causó, pero no como un fin, sino como una oportunidad para que Dios me ayude. Me ha permitido elevarme por encima de mis propios fracasos. Me ha dado la gracia de la esperanza de que tengo un Dios que no me soltó cuando pudo. En su lugar, abrazó todo lo que es negativo en mí y lo clavó consigo mismo en la cruz para liberarme. Dios no se ha dado por vencido y yo tampoco debería darme por vencido. Tampoco debería abandonar a los demás. Más aún, abrazar al desafiado, los vencidos, a los marginados, a los mal entendidos, a los solitarios, a los débiles, a los moribundos con la esperanza de que el abrazo que yo les doy también les permitirá ver más allá de su vergüenza y su aparente derrota; es decir, creer y esperar una vez más.


Por encima de todo, la cruz es el AMOR incondicional y grande de Dios, porque ese es el principio subyacente que transformó todos estos aspectos negativos de la cruz en algo inefable y grande.

Mientras contemplamos la cruz, ¿qué vemos ahora?


P. Pio Pareja, MMHC

image9

HOLY WEEK - THURSDAY

THE MEANING OF MY ORDINATION AND OUR COMMON PRIESTHOOD

April 9, 2020


Six days I ago I celebrated my 27th anniversary of my priestly ordination. I was ordained by the late Bishop Camilo Gregorio on April 3, 1993. It was at the Parish of St. John Bosco, Makati City, Philippines. It was the Saturday before Palm Sunday. I was ordained before the beginning of the Holy Week. And I was wondering what my priesthood would be. Aside from the fact that I would be celebrating most of my anniversary within the season of Lent or within the Holy Week, what else can I expect from this?


Thus I began to look back at my twenty seven years as a priest and reflect on how it unfolded and where do I see the hand of God guiding me. What lessons can I derive from them that can guide me in my ministry now and in the years ahead?


First, I do not deserve this gift. Through the years I have been a disappointment for God because I was not even close to what He expects me to be. I often failed and made mistakes. And despite this, he still calls me to follow in His footsteps. Many people know me through their limited encounter with me. They may say that I am not that bad. But if only they know me fully and see my own struggles and failures then they will agree with me that I am not worthy of this gift. No, I do not deserve this gift but God has been merciful and patient with me.  


At times like Peter in the gospel today, I am totally at lost at what Jesus is doing and asking me to do. 

Sometimes I lack the comprehension to understand what is happening. Sometimes my mouth seems to be saying something that I should have not said. Like Peter who pulled Jesus to the side and tried to reason with Jesus because did not make sense when He started to speak about His impending suffering and death. Or when Jesus was transfigured and Peter started to say something about remaining on that mountain and never continue their journey to Jerusalem. 


At times I still ask God why or I would have doubts about God and His love for me and for those that I am caring especially when things turn for the worst. I struggled with my faith. Yet God would condescend with me and bring me to see everything in the way He sees things and not in how I understand it. He would go down to my level. He has never abandoned me but was always patient with me.


And because of these, I do not put my trust in my capacity but in His immense power. He knows better than I can. He sees beyond what I can see. I only have to put my hands in his hand and allow Him to guide me even through the darkness and uncertain realities.


Secondly, all that I am and all I was able to accomplish was possible because Jesus enabled me. His grace continues to work in my life and continues to shape me as long as I am willing to submit my whole self to His will. 


Jesus washed my filthiness again and again. Like a pig, I would wallow again and again in the mud of sin. But He would be patient to bring me back and to wash me clean. 


Jesus can also be very firm and strict with me. He would always remind me, advise me, correct me, and even chastise me when needed. Through events and through the different people that I live with and work with, Jesus continues to mold me and shape me. With such patience, He continues to bring out the best in me. At times like a rebellious teenager, I would struggle and complain but Jesus remains firm in His desire to make me better. And mold me according to His heart.


Thirdly, I have the best teacher in Jesus. He did not only teach me by words; he showed it by his deeds, setting an example for me to follow. 


I was ordained the day before Holy Week because Jesus wanted my priesthood to be a journey into the very mystery of His love. He wanted to show me that my priesthood should be and must always be “en sequela Christi” – to walk in Christ’s footsteps. 


There is no way I can escape this invitation. Jesus consecrated me three times to make me realize how important this journey is. I was baptized when I was a baby. When I entered religious life, I made my profession of the evangelical counsel of poverty, chastity, and obedience. With this profession, I vowed to follow Christ and to be faithful to my baptismal promises in a radical way. I was called to become the sign of perfect charity to the world. And I was ordained as a priest. My calling to follow Christ has reached it pinnacle when I am called to follow Jesus as I minister to the needs of His sheep. I embodied Jesus in a particular and unique way.


Like Jesus I am asked everyday to put away whatever self-importance that I may have, and learn to go down on my knees to wash the feet of those I serve. My service should be selfless, humble, and true. It is only by doing this that I can understand in a deeper what Jesus is teaching me: “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."


Like Jesus I am asked to put up with the limitations and weakness of others. I never found it better expressed as in the Last Supper with His disciples. Just think about what Jesus has to put up with at that moment. He knew the person who will betray him. He knew that Peter will deny Him three times. He knew that His disciples will be sleeping when He need them to stay with Him while He prayed. He knew that they will all abandon Him when he needed them most. And yet, He celebrated the most beautiful sacrament with them. Jesus still called them into communion with Him. And He wanted them to celebrate this meal until He comes again. 


Like Jesus I am called to be broken in order that I can share myself to others. Jesus broke the bread and gave them to His disciples. But it was not only the bread that he broke. He will embrace the suffering he would have to endure that through His wounds we may be healed. Jesus calls me to be willing to sacrifice my very self to give life to others. He calls me every day to die to myself, to my pride and selfishness. 


He calls me to bring upon myself the punishment that others deserve that I can help them to be free. Every time I sit at the confessional, I am asking God to remove the burden of guilt from the one confessing. And every time I ask it, I am asking that it be transferred on my shoulders. That is why most often I would come out of that confessional burdened and weary. To see each one come out refreshed and rejuvenated, is a consolation for me but it has a price. And like Jesus, I must be willing to do it for the sake of others.

Jesus is calling us today to reflect on our own common priesthood in Christ. 


God has loved us and will always love us even though we do not deserve it. How are we going to respond to His love for us?


God has sustained us and will always be there to help us? Do we have that faith to see His grace as we go through our own struggle and difficulties?


God has showed us how to live our lives and will continue to guide us. Are we following in His footsteps?


Let us pray for all those ordained to the ministry of priesthood that we may lived be faithful in following Jesus and become shepherds after the heart of Jesus.


Let us pray for one another, that we may all manifest the face of Jesus to one another in the way talk, relate and share our lives with others.


Fr. Pius Pareja. MMHC

image10

HOLY WEEK - WEDNESDAY

PREPARING FOR A MARATHON

April 8, 2020


While reflecting on the readings for today, I was drawn to reflect more on the first reading. The particular verse that caught my attention is the following:


           “The Lord has given me a well-trained tongue, 

           That I might know how to speak to the weary

           a word that would rouse them.”


I asked myself this question: “Why are these words meaningful for me today?” And as I continued to meditate, one word was the only answer that came to my mind: MARATHON. 


It seems queer that I would be thinking of the marathon at this point of time. But the more I prayed about it the more it makes sense.


Life is not always a sprint. But most of the time, life is a marathon. Things just take time before something happens. We go through a process that can take a lot of time. We need to be patient. We need to keep pace our daily. We cannot simply give everything we have got or else we would not have enough to last us through the process. We cannot simply think that it would be over soon but we constantly believe and hope that we will get there someday. 


It would be foolish to say that what we hope for will happen tomorrow, as in, immediately the next day. Our faith and hope point to a tomorrow that will come at its proper time; not as we expected it but according to God’s time. Thus we look forward in hope.


Jesus has been preparing his disciples to face what is coming. He has been warning them way before what to expect. Jesus was preparing them for one of the longest and deepest darkness of their life. The gospel was not only focusing on the events that will happen to Jesus but also on the events that will follow after when has ascended into heaven. The lessons of the gospel guided the early church as it goes through its painful growth and persecution under the Roman Empire through more than three hundred years.


We can learn the lessons from the past in order to face the challenges of today. 


First, they kept the faith. They continued to witness to the world their faith in God in a world that misunderstood them. Often wrongfully accused and judged unjustly by others, they persevered even to the point of giving up their lives rather than renounce their faith. 


We are not being asked to renounce our faith but it is challenged by the circumstances that we are in. We need to find ways and means to continue keeping the faith. It is more challenging to pray and celebrate our liturgy. We have become more innovative and have begun to think outside the box. We continue to teach, to preach, to serve and to be present in the lives of our people. Though we may be far away from one another we continue to keep the flame alive in the hearts of all by being more present with the help of modern technology.


Secondly, they found strength in being together. The more they are persecuted the more they assembled and celebrate the mystery of God’s love for them. They found ways to be together. They even invented coded messages and symbols to get in touch with one another. 


We will also find strength when we are together. We find ways to link with one another. We pass on messages to inspire and strengthen. We demonstrate our oneness in concrete ways. We are grateful for your continued “presence” by being one with us in our celebrations while you are in the safety of your home. Your encouraging words and your prayers continued to sustain us in our ministry and vice-versa. We are giving out the message that we are not alone facing these challenges. We “hold our hands together” in spiritual way as we unite our hearts to pray and intercede for the needs of each one.


Thirdly, as a church and individually, they witness to the world the love of God by their deeds and examples. As Jesus said: "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." 


Though we may be apart from one another, we continue to find ways and means to help another in their burdens. As you well know, we decided to give back to the church our salary this month and onward until we can open our church once again. We did this to be able to ensure that we can continue to pay the salaries of our staff. Some have offered not to receive their salary because they know the financial condition of the church as of now. We declined to accept their offer. They have their families to provide for. On our part, God continues to provide for what we need. We were even surprised to receive a check of $1,000.00 from one of our parishioners to help us out to keep the church open. It was their money saved for vacation this coming summer. God bless them for this generosity. I personally have seen people who in their own little way are stepping up to provide for the needs of our frontliners who are already at the point of weariness and frustration. They provide the needed boost to raise their morale knowing they are not alone in combating this pandemic. They are able to see that the needs of others are greater than their own and they responded with generosity.


Because of this I am looking forward in hope. Even though we do not know how long this will last, let our light shine forth. Let us continue to be the presence of God in this moment of crisis. Let us not allow one of us to fall away and lose faith. Let us rather sustain one another in whatever little way we can. We are in a marathon. We are all in this together . . . . and TOGETHER WE WILL STAND AND OVERCOME.


Fr. Pius Pareja, MMHC

image11

SEMANA SANTA - MIERCOLES

PREPARACIÓN PARA UN MARATÓN

8 de abril de 2020


Mientras reflexionaba sobre las lecturas de hoy, me sentí atraído a reflexionar más sobre la primera lectura. El verso particular que me llamó la atención es el siguiente:


             “El Señor me ha dado una lengua experta,
              para que pueda confortar al abatido
              con palabras de aliento.


Me hice esta pregunta: "¿Por qué estas palabras son significativas para mí hoy?" Y mientras continuaba meditando, una palabra fue la única respuesta que me vino a la mente: MARATÓN.


Parece extraño que estaría pensando en el maratón en este momento. Pero cuanto más oraba al respecto, más sentido tiene.


La vida no siempre es un sprint. Pero la mayoría de las veces, la vida es un maratón. Las cosas solo toman tiempo antes de que algo suceda. Pasamos por un proceso que puede llevar mucho tiempo. Necesitamos ser pacientes. Necesitamos mantener un ritmo en nuestra vida diaria. No podemos simplemente dar todo lo que tenemos o, de lo contrario, no tendríamos lo suficiente para durarnos el proceso. No podemos simplemente pensar que terminaría pronto, pero constantemente creemos y esperamos llegar algún día.


Sería una tontería decir que lo que esperamos suceda mañana, oh, inmediatamente al día siguiente. Nuestra fe y esperanza apuntan a un mañana que llegará en el momento adecuado; no como lo esperábamos, sino según el tiempo de Dios. Por lo tanto, esperamos con esperanza.


Jesús ha estado preparando a sus discípulos para enfrentar lo que viene. Les ha estado advirtiendo mucho antes de qué esperar. Jesús los estaba preparando para una de las tinieblas más largas y profundas de su vida. El evangelio no solo se enfocaba en los eventos que le sucederán a Jesús, sino también en los eventos que seguirán después de haber ascendido al cielo. Las lecciones del evangelio guiaron a la iglesia primitiva a medida que atraviesa su doloroso crecimiento y persecución bajo el Imperio Romano durante más de trescientos años.


Podemos aprender las lecciones del pasado para enfrentar los desafíos de hoy.


Primero, mantuvieron la fe. Continuaron dando testimonio al mundo de su fe en Dios en un mundo que los malinterpretó. A menudo acusados y juzgados injustamente por otros, perseveraron incluso hasta el punto de renunciar a sus vidas en lugar de renunciar a su fe.


No se nos pide que renunciemos a nuestra fe, pero nuestra fe se ve desafiada por las circunstancias en las que nos encontramos. Necesitamos encontrar formas y medios para continuar manteniendo la fe. Es más difícil rezar y celebrar nuestra liturgia. Nos hemos vuelto más innovadores y hemos comenzado a pensar fuera de la caja. Continuamos enseñando, predicando, sirviendo y estando presentes en la vida de nuestra gente. Aunque podemos estar lejos el uno del otro, continuamos manteniendo viva la llama del amor en los corazones de todos al estar más presentes con la ayuda de la tecnología moderna.


En segundo lugar, encontraron fuerza en estar juntos. Cuanto más son perseguidos, más se reúnen y celebran el misterio del amor de Dios por ellos. Encontraron formas de estar juntos. Incluso inventaron mensajes codificados y símbolos para ponerse en contacto unos con otros.


También encontraremos fuerza cuando estemos juntos. Encontramos formas de vincularnos unos con otros. Transmitimos mensajes para inspirar y fortalecer. Demostramos nuestra unidad de manera concreta. Estamos agradecidos por su continua "presencia" al ser uno con nosotros en nuestras celebraciones mientras está en la seguridad de su hogar. Sus palabras de aliento y sus oraciones continuaron sosteniéndonos en nuestro ministerio y viceversa. Estamos transmitiendo el mensaje de que no estamos solos frente a estos desafíos. "Mantenemos nuestras manos juntas" de manera espiritual mientras unimos nuestros corazones para orar e interceder por las necesidades de cada uno.


En tercer lugar, como iglesia e individualmente, son testigos del mundo del amor de Dios por sus obras y ejemplos. Como dijo Jesús: "En esto conocerán todos que son Mis discípulos, si tienen amor los unos a los otros."


Aunque podemos estar separados el uno del otro, seguimos encontrando formas y medios para ayudar a otros en sus cargas. Como bien saben, decidimos devolver a la iglesia nuestro salario este mes y en adelante hasta que podamos abrir nuestra iglesia una vez más. Hicimos esto para asegurarnos de poder seguir pagando los salarios de nuestros personales. Algunos han ofrecido no recibir su salario porque conocen la situación financiera de la iglesia ahora. Nos negamos a aceptar su oferta. Tienen que mantener a sus familias. Por nuestra parte, Dios continúa proveyendo lo que necesitamos. Incluso nos sorprendió recibir un cheque de $ 1,000.00 de uno de nuestros feligreses para ayudarnos a mantener abierta la iglesia. Fue su dinero ahorrado para vacaciones el próximo verano. Dios los bendiga por esta generosidad. Personalmente, he visto personas que a su manera están dando un paso adelante para suministrar las necesidades de aquellos en el frente de batalla que ya están en el punto de cansancio y frustración. Proporcionan el impulso necesario para elevar su moral sabiendo que no están solos en la lucha contra esta pandemia. Pueden ver que las necesidades de los demás son mayores que las suyas y respondieron con generosidad.


Debido a esto estoy deseando en la esperanza. Aunque no sabemos cuánto durará esto, deje que brille nuestra luz. Sigamos siendo la presencia de Dios en este momento de crisis. No permitamos que uno de nosotros se caiga y pierda la fe. Permítanos sostenernos unos a otros de cualquier manera que podamos. Estamos en una maratón. Estamos todos juntos en esto . . . . y JUNTOS PERMANECEMOS Y VENCEMOS.


P. Pio Pareja, MMHC

image12

HOLY WEEK - MONDAY

THE GRATEFUL AND THE OPPORTUNIST

March 6, 2020


The story of Mary and Judas highlights two type of person: one was grateful and the other one is an opportunist. I would use the word “opportunist” in a negative way though it can also have positive connotation.


The story unfolded with the dramatic act of Mary who poured a very expensive perfume at the feet of Jesus. The scent of the perfume filled the whole room. She wiped the feet with her hair. 


Her focus was on Jesus who brought back his brother from the dead. She wanted to demonstrate her gratitude to Him. She did not spare any expense. She wanted to give to Jesus the best she can offer. 


The first one to react is Judas who knows the value of such perfume. He knows it was expensive. It was something that he could cash in. He thought that it was a waste of money just to use such expensive perfume to anoint the feet of Jesus. In order to hide his real intention, he reasoned that the money can be used to help others.


Jesus appreciated Mary’s gesture. He defended her against the “accusation” of Judas. Jesus even hinted to her that it can be used for his burial.


The retort of Jesus to Judas is intriguing: “You will always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” It unmasked the genuine intention of Judas. Judas focus has moved away from Jesus. It is now centered on himself. 


During the time of crisis, the best or the worst in us comes out.


Jesus had been announcing about his impending death while they were on their way to Jerusalem. Judas might have started to doubt about his belief on Jesus: “Did I waste all my time following Jesus? I thought He was the Messiah who will come into power and politically free Israel from the yoke of the Romans. All this talk about being put to death at the hands of the elders has made me think whether the Sadducees and the Pharisees were right about him.” 


With the looming disaster, he was thinking more about himself and how he can make the most of the situation to gain something for himself. He was helping himself from the contributions received from generous people. 


He would even go as far as conniving with the leaders of the people and be on their good side with financial benefits. He would betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.


Mary, on her part, might have seen the announcement of his impending death as an opportunity to demonstrate her love for Jesus. She did not want to lose this opportunity to manifest how much she loves him and how grateful she is. It must be now or never. 


With the looming possibility of even greater challenges in the coming weeks, what are we thinking? What are we doing? 


Are we valuing each other as much as we should? We do not know who will be next. Would that person living with us live for a longer period of time? What if their walking out of that door would be the last time that you would see them? Would we wait for the time when they would be separated from us before we realize we have not yet said I love you? Have we forgiven one another? Have we mentioned how much we appreciate them for what they have done for us or are we going to wait for time when they are dying, and we cannot be there with them? During this time of pandemic when we need to maintain our physical distance to another, do we make them feel how much we value them?


We have often complained that we do not have time to pray because of work or so many preoccupations. Now that we are stuck at home, are we taking this opportunity to deepen our relationship with Jesus? Are we growing spiritually? Are we taking time to nourish that spiritual hunger that we have inside with using what is readily available to us? Reading and reflecting the Word of God? Growing more in our understanding of our faith? Praying and making daily meditations? Putting into action what we resolved to do? Going through a journey of conversion in our attitude and in our life?


Will this time be another wasted opportunity for us to grow because we allow our fear to control and paralyze us? Will we become more selfish, greedy, and insensitive? Will we only focus on ourselves? Will we continue to be as we are before and never bother to improve? Will we end up being slothful and procrastinating thinking that we have all the time to accomplish it?


During this time of the pandemic, may we become more like Mary in our attitude to Jesus and to one another. May we truly value the opportunity that we have been given to grow deeper in our relationship with God and with another. And after this is over, may we come out of it a better person.


Fr. Pius Pareja, MMHC

image13

SEMANA SANTA - LUNES

LA AGRADECIDA Y EL OPORTUNISTA

6 de marzo de 2020


La historia de Mary y Judas destaca dos tipos de personas: una estaba agradecida y la otra es oportunista. Usaría la palabra "oportunista" de manera negativa, aunque también puede tener una connotación positiva.

La historia se desarrolló con el acto dramático de María, quien vertió un perfume muy caro a los pies de Jesús. El aroma del perfume llenó toda la habitación. Le limpió los pies con el pelo.

Su enfoque estaba en Jesús quien trajo a su hermano de la muerte. Ella quería demostrarle su gratitud. Ella no escatimó en gastos. Ella quería darle a Jesús lo mejor que puede ofrecer.

El primero en reaccionar es Judas, quien conoce el valor de tal perfume. Él sabe que era caro. Era algo que podría haberse convertido en efectivo. Pensó que era un desperdicio de dinero usar perfume tan caro para ungir los pies de Jesús. Para ocultar su verdadera intención, razonó que el dinero puede usarse para ayudar a otros.


Jesús apreció el gesto de María. La defendió contra la "acusación" de Judas. Jesús incluso le insinuó que se puede usar para su entierro.


La réplica de Jesús a Judas es intrigante: "los pobres los tendrán siempre con ustedes, pero a mí no siempre me tendrán.” Desenmascaró la intención genuina de Judas. El enfoque de Judas se ha alejado de Jesús. Ahora está centrado en sí mismo.


Durante el tiempo de crisis, lo mejor o lo peor de nosotros sale.


Jesús había estado anunciando sobre su muerte inminente mientras se dirigían a Jerusalén. Judas podría haber comenzado a dudar de su creencia en Jesús: “¿Perdí todo mi tiempo siguiendo a Jesús? Pensé que era el Mesías que llegaría al poder y liberará políticamente a Israel del yugo de los romanos. Toda esta charla sobre la muerte a manos de los ancianos me ha hecho pensar si los saduceos y los fariseos tenían razón sobre él.”

Con el desastre inminente, estaba pensando más en sí mismo y en cómo puede aprovechar al máximo la situación para ganar algo para sí mismo. Estaba robando las contribuciones recibidas de personas generosas que se le confiaron.


Incluso podría ir tan lejos como conspirando con los líderes de la gente y estar en su lado bueno con beneficios financieros. Él quería traicionar a Jesús por treinta monedas de plata.


María, por su parte, podría haber visto el anuncio de su muerte inminente como una oportunidad para demostrar su amor por Jesús. Ella no quería perder esta oportunidad de manifestar cuánto lo amaba y lo agradecida que estaba. Debe ser ahora o nunca.


Con la inminente posibilidad de desafíos aún mayores en las próximas semanas, ¿qué estamos pensando? ¿Que estamos haciendo?


Estamos valorando entre sí tanto como deberíamos? No sabemos quién será el próximo. ¿Esa persona que vive con nosotros vive más tiempo? ¿Qué pasaría si esta mañana esa persona que saliera por esa puerta fuera la última vez que lo verías? ¿Esperaríamos el momento en que se separarían de nosotros antes de darnos cuenta de que aún no hemos dicho que te amo? ¿Nos hemos perdonado el uno al otro? ¿Hemos mencionado cuánto los apreciamos por lo que han hecho por nosotros o vamos a esperar el momento en que estén muriendo, y no podemos estar allí con ellos? Durante este tiempo de pandemia cuando necesitamos mantener nuestra distancia física con otro, ¿les hacemos sentir cuánto los valoramos?


Muchas veces nos hemos quejado de que no tenemos tiempo para orar por el trabajo o por tantas preocupaciones. Ahora que nos vemos obligados a quedarnos en casa, ¿estamos aprovechando esta oportunidad para profundizar nuestra relación con Jesús? ¿Estamos creciendo espiritualmente? ¿Nos estamos tomando el tiempo para alimentar esa hambre espiritual que tenemos dentro usando lo que está disponible para nosotros? ¿Leyendo y reflejando la Palabra de Dios? ¿Creciendo más en nuestra comprensión de nuestra fe? ¿Orando y haciendo meditaciones diarias? ¿Poner en acción lo que decidimos hacer? ¿Pasando por un viaje de conversión en nuestra actitud y en nuestra vida?


¿Será esta vez otra oportunidad desperdiciada para que crezcamos porque permitimos que nuestro miedo nos controle y nos paralice? ¿Nos volveremos más egoístas, codiciosos e insensibles? ¿Nos centraremos solo en nosotros mismos? ¿Seguiremos siendo como somos antes y nunca nos molestaremos en mejorar? ¿Terminaremos siendo perezosos y postergando mientras pensamos que tenemos todo el tiempo para lograrlo?


Durante este tiempo de la pandemia, que nos volvamos más como María en nuestra actitud hacia Jesús y el uno al otro. Que realmente valoremos la oportunidad que se nos ha dado para profundizar en nuestra relación con Dios y con los demás. Y después de que esto termine, podemos salir de él como una mejor persona.


P. Pio Pareja, MMHC

image14

HOLY WEEK - PALM SUNDAY

STANDING BY JESUS

April 5, 2020


Today we celebrate the triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. Like the crowds who met Jesus with palm branches in their hands, we hold in our hands palm leaves at a distance, within the safety of our own home because of this pandemic.


This idea made me focus on something for a while. It raised a question in my mind.


Let me ask this question: Are we truly holding palm branches in our hands at this moment? Are holding it up high to wave at Jesus and sing “Hosanna”? Do we believe that he is the Messiah? These are questions I would like us to reflect for a moment before I continue (or before you continue reading this reflection).


Pause for a few minutes. Let the questions ring out in our mind and heart.


Many people have been asking me if we are going to distribute the blessed palm leaves this Sunday or if we are going to bless the palm leaves this Sunday.


This is my question: Why are you concerned about the palm leaves being blessed? Why do you want your palm leaves to be blessed? Do you see it as an amulet to protect you from evil? Do you think it is something to ward off COVID-19 from your home? Is it something that gives you security at this moment of your life?

If your answer to all these questions are “yes” then we missed the point of the celebration of Palm Sunday or the blessing of the palm leaves. We have seen it in superstitious way. And I am stunned that we are still superstitious. That is the why our Protestant brothers and sisters are correct to accuse us that we are practicing idolatry. Why is our faith based on blessed palm leaves at this moment? The blessed palm leaves cannot save us. Only God can and He will save us. And our faith should be founded on God.

We are blessing the palm branches in this sanctuary. We will not be distributing them, not today or any time soon. They will remain in the church until the time when we can open the Church and we can celebrate together the saving action of God’s love for us. On that day we shall raise our blessed palms in thanksgiving for all that God has done for us.


If we do not have our palms blessed, it is not the end of the world. They are sacramentals that helps us to reflect on the mystery of God’s love for us. They are not our focus. It is Jesus. The same is true for the people during the time of Jesus. If their focus are the miracles and signs that Jesus made and not on what He is proclaiming, then they too missed the point. Miracles and signs points to the presence of God and His Kingdom in our midst. If all we seek are miracles, then we will lose faith when God seems to be doing nothing about it. Just as the people who were welcoming Jesus with loud rejoicing will on Good Friday condemn him to death, we will also do the same when do not seem to see any miracle happening.


God did not intend that the miracles and signs be his message. His message is written in the very person and life of Jesus who became one with us, who lived among us, who journeyed and continue to journey with us, who empowers us with his presence, who guides us by His words, and above all, who suffered and died for us. This is God’s singular message. He suffered and died for us that we may be saved.


He did not promise that everything will be perfect. He did not promise that we will not anymore experience sickness, suffering or even death. Jesus was not even exempt from suffering and death. He suffered in a great way; and more than physical suffering, Jesus suffered emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. He sweat blood at the garden of Gethsemane. He pleaded with the Father if it is possible to take the cup of suffering away from Him. He felt that loneliness after being abandoned by those whom he had loved and cared for when he went through the trials on the cross. He felt that deep desolation because of which he cried out: “Father, why have you abandoned me?” As a human person, we can identify with his struggles. For we would do the same if we are in his shoes.


But through it all despite the call to remove the suffering and the cry of anguish, Jesus submitted himself to the Father’s will: “but not my will but, yours be done;” and have placed himself into the hands of the Father when he said: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” This is Jesus who embraced the will of the Father that we may be redeemed.


As we enter the Holy Week, are we standing beside Jesus? Are we on His side?


Those in the front line are standing beside Jesus. They are risking their lives to help others in need.

They are standing beside Jesus in the person of the sick and the dying. They are standing beside Jesus as they comfort and care for them. They are standing beside Jesus as they are the only ones who can be there at the side of the dying. They are standing beside Jesus knowing that they cannot go home for fear of carrying the virus to their family members. They are standing beside Jesus even though they cannot embrace or even be close to their children. They are standing beside Jesus even when the needed materials for personal protection are lacking.


They are standing beside Jesus to keep groceries open in order to provide us with the supplies we needed. They are standing beside Jesus when people can be unreasonable and edgy. They are standing beside Jesus knowing that the next person they may encounter may be carrying the virus and may infect them.

They are standing beside Jesus as employers look beyond profitability in order to provide for their employees. They are standing beside Jesus when they put the needs of others above their own. They are standing beside Jesus even when they do not know when this will end or what will be tomorrow.

They are standing beside Jesus as they volunteer their time, talent and treasure to help another. They are standing beside Jesus when they think of ways to help. They are standing beside Jesus when they reach out to others by calling them or keeping in touch through social media. They are standing beside Jesus when they use their talents to inspire and uplift the spirit. They stand beside Jesus by just being present and being more understanding.


We are not standing by Jesus when all we are focused on is ourselves and when all we do is complain. We are not standing by Jesus when we add more to the stress of “staying at home” by our insensitivity to others and when we do not care. We are not standing beside Jesus when continue to blame others and not do what we are supposed to do. We are not standing beside Jesus when hoard and never consider that the next one might need it more than you. We are not standing beside Jesus when all we want is for God to solve the problem without realizing that we are God’s solution to the problem.


Allow me to cite this story that has been repeated more than once.


One dark night, a man was walking home. He did not notice that he was close to the ravine. He fell into the ravine but was able to hold tightly on outcropping root of a tree. Not knowing how high he was from the bottom, he cried out for help. He cried out to God to help him.


God responded: “Let go of the root that you are holding on.”


The man thought for a moment. Then he cried out: “Is there anybody else who can help me?”


Sometimes we are like that man. We believe in God; but we wanted God to respond to us according to what we want. Do we have the faith even though we may still go through this for a longer period? Will we continue to demand for an immediate miracle? Will we stand by Jesus or will we join crowd in the periphery doubting him, jeering at him, and demanding more from him?


This Holy Week, that we are commencing, is a call to grow deeper in our faith in Jesus and understand better what that faith is asking us to do. It is a moment to reflect deeply and realize in a profound way the lessons that this experience is leading us. It is a call to let go of the attitude that makes stand apart from Jesus that we may come closer to Him; and coming closer to Him, may we come closer to one another.


Let us accompany Jesus and learn from Him. May this help bring about a radical conversion of our life and attitude.


May our families grow stronger amid this crisis. May our love for one another become genuine as we put the good of others above our own. May our faith increase and our hope shine forth. And if we are ready, let us raise our palm branches and profess our faith in Jesus.


Fr. Pius Pareja, MMHC

image15

SEMANA SANTA - DOMINGO DE RAMOS

ESTAMOS DE PIE JUNTO CON JESÚS

5 de abril de 2020


Hoy celebramos la entrada triunfal de Jesús en Jerusalén. Al igual que las multitudes que se encontraron con Jesús con ramas de palma en sus manos, tenemos en nuestras manos ramas u otras hojas a cierta distancia, dentro de la seguridad de nuestra propia casa debido a esta pandemia.


Esta idea me hizo centrarme en algo por un tiempo. Planteó una pregunta en mi mente.


Déjame hacerte esta pregunta: ¿Estamos realmente sosteniendo ramas de palma en nuestras manos en este momento? ¿Lo sostienes en alto para saludar a Jesús y cantar "Hosanna"? ¿Creemos que él es el Mesías? Estas son preguntas que me gustaría que reflexionemos por un momento antes de continuar (o antes de que continúe leyendo esta reflexión).


Pausa por unos minutos. Deje que las preguntas resuenen en nuestra mente y corazón.


Muchas personas me han preguntado si vamos a distribuir las hojas de palma bendecido este domingo o si van a bendecir las hojas de palma este domingo.


Esta es mi pregunta: ¿Por qué le preocupa que las hojas de palma sean bendecidas? ¿Por qué quieres que tus hojas de palma sean bendecidas? ¿Lo ves como un amuleto para protegerte del mal? ¿Crees que es algo para alejar a COVID-19 de tu hogar? ¿Es algo que te da seguridad en este momento de tu vida?


Si su respuesta a todas estas preguntas es “sí”, entonces nos hemos perdido el punto de celebración del Domingo de Ramos o la bendición de las hojas de palma. Lo hemos visto de manera supersticiosa. Y estoy sorprendido de que sigamos siendo supersticiosos. Es por eso por lo que nuestros hermanos y hermanas protestantes tienen razón al acusarnos de que estamos practicando la idolatría. ¿Por qué nuestra fe se basa en benditas hojas de palma en este momento? Las benditas hojas de palma no pueden salvarnos. Solo Dios puede y nos salvará. Y nuestra fe debe basarse en Dios.


Estamos bendiciendo las ramas en este santuario. No los distribuiremos. Ni hoy ni ningún día pronto. Permanecerán en la iglesia hasta el momento en que podamos abrir la Iglesia y podamos celebrar juntos la acción salvífica del amor de Dios por nosotros. Ese día levantaremos nuestras palmas benditas en acción de gracias por todo lo que Dios ha hecho por nosotros.


Si no tenemos nuestras palmas bendecidas, no es el fin del mundo. Ellas son sacramentales que nos ayudan a reflexionar sobre el misterio del amor de Dios por nosotros. No son nuestro foco. Es Jesús. Lo mismo es cierto para la gente durante el tiempo de Jesús. Si su enfoque son los milagros y las señales que hizo Jesús y no en lo que está proclamando, entonces ellos también se equivocaron. Los milagros y las señales apuntan a la presencia de Dios y su reino en medio de nosotros. Si todo lo que buscamos son milagros, entonces perderemos la fe cuando Dios parece no estar haciendo nada al respecto. Así como las personas que recibieron a Jesús con gran regocijo lo condenarán a muerte el Viernes Santo, también haremos lo mismo cuando no parezca que ocurra ningún milagro.


Dios no tenía la intención de que los milagros y las señales fueran su mensaje. Su mensaje está escrito en la persona y la vida de Jesús, que se hizo uno con nosotros, que vivió entre nosotros, que viajó y continúa viajando con nosotros, que nos fortalece con su presencia, que nos guía por sus palabras y, sobre todo, quien sufrió y murió por nosotros. Este es el mensaje singular de Dios. Él sufrió y murió por nosotros para que podamos ser salvos.


No prometió que todo será perfecto. No prometió que ya no experimentaremos enfermedades, sufrimiento o incluso la muerte. Jesús ni siquiera estaba exento de sufrimiento y muerte. Sufrió de gran manera; y más que el sufrimiento físico, Jesús sufrió emocionalmente, psicológicamente y espiritualmente. Él suda sangre en el jardín de Getsemaní. Le suplicó al Padre si es posible quitarle la copa del sufrimiento. Sintió esa soledad después de ser abandonado por aquellos a quienes había amado y cuidado cuando pasó por las pruebas en la cruz. Sintió esa profunda desolación por la cual gritó: "Padre, ¿por qué me has abandonado?" Como persona humana, podemos identificarnos con sus luchas. Porque haríamos lo mismo si estamos en su lugar.

Pero a pesar de todo, a pesar del llamado a eliminar el sufrimiento y el grito de angustia, Jesús se sometió a la voluntad del Padre: "pero no mi voluntad, sino que se haga la tuya". y se ha puesto en manos del Padre cuando dijo: "Padre, en tus manos encomiendo mi espíritu". Este es Jesús que abrazó la voluntad del Padre para que seamos redimidos.


Al entrar en la Semana Santa, ¿estamos junto a Jesús? ¿Estamos de su lado?


Aquellos en el frente de batalla contra COVID-19 están de pie junto a Jesús. Arriesgan sus vidas para ayudar a otros que lo necesitan.


Están de pie junto a Jesús en la persona de los enfermos y los moribundos. Están de pie junto a Jesús mientras los consuelan y cuidan. Están de pie junto a Jesús, ya que son los únicos que pueden estar al lado de los moribundos. Están de pie junto a Jesús sabiendo que no pueden irse a casa por temor a transmitir el virus a los miembros de su familia. Están de pie junto a Jesús a pesar de que no pueden abrazar o incluso estar cerca de sus hijos. Están junto a Jesús incluso cuando faltan los materiales necesarios para la protección personal.

Están de pie junto a Jesús para mantener abierta la tienda de comestibles a fin de proporcionarnos los suministros que necesitábamos. Están de pie junto a Jesús cuando las personas pueden ser irracionales y nerviosas. Están junto a Jesús sabiendo que la próxima persona que puedan encontrar puede estar portando el virus y puede infectarlos.


Están de pie junto a Jesús mientras los empleadores miran más allá de la rentabilidad para puede mantener a sus empleados. Están de pie junto a Jesús cuando ponen las necesidades de los demás por encima de las suyas. Están de pie junto a Jesús incluso cuando no saben cuándo terminará esto o qué será mañana.


Están de pie junto a Jesús mientras ofrecen voluntariamente su tiempo, talento y tesoro para ayudar a otros. Están de pie junto a Jesús cuando piensan en formas de ayudar. Están junto a Jesús cuando se comunican con los demás llamándolos o manteniéndose en contacto a través de las redes sociales. Están de pie junto a Jesús cuando usan sus talentos para inspirar y elevar el espíritu. Apoyan a Jesús simplemente estando presentes y siendo más comprensivos.


No estamos junto a Jesús cuando nos enfocamos en nosotros mismos y cuando lo único que hacemos es quejarnos. No junto a Jesús cuando agregamos más al estrés de "quedarnos en casa" por nuestra insensibilidad hacia los demás y cuando no nos importa. No estamos junto a Jesús cuando seguimos culpando a otros y no hacemos lo que se supone que debemos hacer. No estamos junto a Jesús cuando atesoramos y nunca consideramos que el próximo podría necesitarlo más que usted. No estamos junto a Jesús cuando todo lo que queremos es que Dios resuelva el problema sin darnos cuenta de que somos la solución de Dios al problema.


Permítanme citar esta historia que se ha repetido más de una vez.


Una noche oscura, un hombre caminaba de regreso a casa. No se dio cuenta de que estaba cerca del barranco. Cayó en el barranco, pero pudo agarrarse con fuerza a la raíz de un árbol. Sin saber qué tan alto estaba desde el fondo, pidió ayuda. Él clamó a Dios para que lo ayudara.


Dios respondió: "Suelta la raíz que estás sosteniendo".


El hombre pensó por un momento. Luego gritó: "¿Hay alguien más que pueda ayudarme?"


A veces somos como ese hombre. Nosotros creemos en Dios; pero queríamos que Dios nos respondiera según lo que queramos. ¿Tenemos fe a pesar de que todavía podemos pasar por esto por un período más largo? ¿Continuaremos exigiendo un milagro inmediato? ¿Apoyaremos a Jesús o nos uniremos a la multitud en la periferia dudando de él, burlándose de él y exigiéndole más?


Esta Semana Santa, que estamos comenzando, es un llamado a profundizar nuestra fe en Jesús y comprender mejor lo que esa fe nos pide que hagamos. Es un momento para reflexionar profundamente y comprender de manera profunda las lecciones que esta experiencia nos está llevando. Es un llamado a dejar de lado la actitud que lo separa de Jesús para que podamos acercarnos a Él; y acercándonos a Él, que nos acerquemos unos a otros.


Acompañemos a Jesús y aprendamos de Él. Que esto ayude a lograr una conversión radical de nuestra vida y actitud.


Que nuestras familias se fortalezcan en medio de esta crisis. Que nuestro amor mutuo se vuelva genuino al poner el bien de los demás por encima del nuestro. Que nuestra fe aumente y nuestra esperanza brille. Y si estamos listos, levantemos nuestras ramas de palma y profesemos nuestra fe en Jesús.


P. Pio Pareja, MMHC

image16

URBI ET ORBI MESSAGE

EXTRAORDINARY MOMENT OF PRAYER

March 27, 2020

Vatican City


“When evening had come” (Mk 4:35). The Gospel passage we have just heard begins like this. For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other. On this boat… are all of us. Just like those disciples, who spoke anxiously with one voice, saying “We are perishing” (v. 38), so we too have realized that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this.


It is easy to recognize ourselves in this story. What is harder to understand is Jesus’ attitude. While his disciples are quite naturally alarmed and desperate, he stands in the stern, in the part of the boat that sinks first. And what does he do? In spite of the tempest, he sleeps on soundly, trusting in the Father; this is the only time in the Gospels we see Jesus sleeping. When he wakes up, after calming the wind and the waters, he turns to the disciples in a reproaching voice: “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” (v. 40).


Let us try to understand. In what does the lack of the disciples’ faith consist, as contrasted with Jesus’ trust? They had not stopped believing in him; in fact, they called on him. But we see how they call on him: “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” (v. 38). Do you not care: they think that Jesus is not interested in them, does not care about them. One of the things that hurts us and our families most when we hear it said is: “Do you not care about me?” It is a phrase that wounds and unleashes storms in our hearts. It would have shaken Jesus too. Because he, more than anyone, cares about us. Indeed, once they have called on him, he saves his disciples from their discouragement.


The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities. It shows us how we have allowed to become dull and feeble the very things that nourish, sustain and strengthen our lives and our communities. The tempest lays bare all our prepackaged ideas and forgetfulness of what nourishes our people’s souls; all those attempts that anesthetize us with ways of thinking and acting that supposedly “save” us, but instead prove incapable of putting us in touch with our roots and keeping alive the memory of those who have gone before us. We deprive ourselves of the antibodies we need to confront adversity.

In this storm, the facade of those stereotypes with which we camouflaged our egos, always worrying about our image, has fallen away, uncovering once more that (blessed) common belonging, of which we cannot be deprived: our belonging as brothers and sisters.


“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Lord, your word this evening strikes us and regards us, all of us. In this world, that you love more than we do, we have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything. Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things, and lured away by haste. We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet. We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick. Now that we are in a stormy sea, we implore you: “Wake up, Lord!”.


“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Lord, you are calling to us, calling us to faith. Which is not so much believing that you exist, but coming to you and trusting in you. This Lent your call reverberates urgently: “Be converted!”, “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing. It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others. We can look to so many exemplary companions for the journey, who, even though fearful, have reacted by giving their lives. This is the force of the Spirit poured out and fashioned in courageous and generous self-denial. It is the life in the Spirit that can redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people – often forgotten people – who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines nor on the grand catwalks of the latest show, but who without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves. In the face of so much suffering, where the authentic development of our peoples is assessed, we experience the priestly prayer of Jesus: “That they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). How many people every day are exercising patience and offering hope, taking care to sow not panic but a shared responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday gestures, how to face up to and navigate a crisis by adjusting their routines, lifting their gaze and fostering prayer. How many are praying, offering and interceding for the good of all. Prayer and quiet service: these are our victorious weapons.


“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith”?Faith begins when we realise we are in need of salvation. We are not self-sufficient; by ourselves we founder: we need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars. Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them. Like the disciples, we will experience that with him on board there will be no shipwreck. Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.


The Lord asks us and, in the midst of our tempest, invites us to reawaken and put into practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, support and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be floundering. The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith. We have an anchor: by his cross we have been saved. We have a rudder: by his cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by his cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love. In the midst of isolation when we are suffering from a lack of tenderness and chances to meet up, and we experience the loss of so many things, let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us: he is risen and is living by our side. The Lord asks us from his cross to rediscover the life that awaits us, to look towards those who look to us, to strengthen, recognize and foster the grace that lives within us. Let us not quench the wavering flame (cf. Is 42:3) that never falters, and let us allow hope to be rekindled.


Embracing his cross means finding the courage to embrace all the hardships of the present time, abandoning for a moment our eagerness for power and possessions in order to make room for the creativity that only the Spirit is capable of inspiring. It means finding the courage to create spaces where everyone can recognize that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity. By his cross we have been saved in order to embrace hope and let it strengthen and sustain all measures and all possible avenues for helping us protect ourselves and others. Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope.


“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith”?Dear brothers and sisters, from this place that tells of Peter’s rock-solid faith, I would like this evening to entrust all of you to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Health of the People and Star of the stormy Sea. From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the whole world, may God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace. Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts. You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Tell us again: “Do not be afraid” (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter, “cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us” (cf. 1 Pet 5:7).


Pope Francis

image17

fourth week of lent - mONDAY

TO LOOK FORWARD

Year 1

March 23, 2020


In this moment when we need assurance that everything will be just fine, we still find ourselves dwelling in doubt whether the promises that were made will be true. We are overwhelmed by so many statistical data about what can be. Many of which are never encouraging. We look with dread at the great numbers before our eyes. We wonder whether we can still see the light of another day. 


The prognostics that are given by many of the news we saw, heard or read are not encouraging. Sometimes it would just be better if we turn off all the news and hide from it all. It seemed like that we were given a death warrant and there is no way we can escape it. We all know we would die someday but we just do not expect it to happen so soon and in such appalling manner. 


There is something in the first reading and the gospel that provides us with something to reflect upon during this time of crisis.


The words of the prophet Isaiah calls us to promise of God. The people addressed by Isaiah in the reading are those who have been exiled. Everything was taken away from them. They do not have anything: no prince, no prophet, and no temple. They understood that they have done evil and they deserved the punishment. They also know that they do not deserve anything that is good. And yet God remained faithful to His promise to His people. He will redeem them not because they deserve it but because He loved them. The imagery that Isaiah gave to the people is not simply that of restoring them to the land. It is a vision of something that would remove from their sight the bitter fate that they went through. Everything will be made new. 


It is that hope that sustained the people through their years of exile and in the years that would follow. It is a vision so something that may seem remote but that is almost near as if touching it with their fingertips. Hope bridged that gap. It is not a utopia. It is promise that was worth waiting. And the only assurance is that God is faithful to His people even if they were unfaithful to Him.


The gospel also points to a similar situation. A royal official came to Jesus asking that Jesus would come down and heal royal official’s son. His son was a the point of death. The story has a surprising twist. Jesus did not go with the royal official to cure his son. Jesus simple told him to go home. And that his “son will live.” 

If you were the in the place of the royal official, would you go home and believe in what Jesus said? Or would you rather beg all the more that Jesus goes with you? Are the words of Jesus enough? Or would you want a more assuring sign? 


The official believed in the words of Jesus. That may be easy to say. But just like any human person, the journey back home might be fraught with questions and doubts. There is no other assurance other than the words of Jesus. But he continued on holding on to that promise. He was not dismayed. Jesus did speak the truth. 


At this moment of uncertainty, we only have our faith to hang on. We believe in the God-given talents of all those who are searching for solution. We believe in the fact that all are doing their best. We believe that the great gap between sufficient and insufficient will one day be filled up. We believe that God is ever more involve in our struggle and continues to sustain our efforts. And we do hope that we shall see the light of day. We will never remain entombed.


This evening a friend of mine asked me if it is alright to decorate the church with an empty cross and an empty tomb since we will not be celebrating Easter. This is my response to him:


“We will have Easter with or without the people in the liturgical celebration. We will still proclaim the Easter proclamation, the EXULTET, and proclaim it boldly on Easter Vigil. We will still proclaim that Jesus is alive. And so we shall be.”


Let us proclaim this faith and hope that we have in Jesus. Let his light shine through this darkness. 


Fr. Pius Pareja, MMHC

image18

CUARTA SEMANA EN CUARESMA - LUNES

MIRAR HACIA ADELANTE

 Año 1

23 de marzo, 2020


En este momento cuando necesitamos asegurarnos de que todo estará bien, aún nos encontramos dudando si las promesas que se hicieron serán ciertas. Estamos abrumados por tantos datos estadísticos sobre lo que puede ser. Muchos de los cuales nunca son alentadores. Miramos con temor los grandes números ante nuestros ojos. Nos preguntamos si aún podemos ver la luz de otro día.


Los pronósticos que dan muchas de las noticias que vimos, escuchamos o leemos no son alentadores. A veces sería mejor si apagamos todas las noticias y nos escondemos de todo. Parecía que nos dieron una sentencia de muerte y no hay forma de que podamos escapar de ella. Todos sabemos que algún día moriríamos, pero no esperamos que suceda tan pronto y de manera tan terrible.


Hay algo en la primera lectura y el evangelio que nos proporciona algo para reflexionar durante este tiempo de crisis.


Las palabras del profeta Isaías nos llaman a la promesa de Dios. Las personas a las que se dirige Isaías en la lectura son aquellas que han sido exiliadas. Todo les fue quitado. No tienen nada: sin príncipe, sin profeta y sin templo. Entendieron que habían hecho el mal y merecían el castigo. También saben que no merecen nada que sea bueno. Y sin embargo, Dios se mantuvo fiel a su promesa a su pueblo. Los redimirá no porque se lo merezcan, sino porque los amaba. La imagen que Isaías le dio a la gente no es simplemente la de restaurarlos a la tierra. Es una visión de algo que eliminaría de su vista el amargo destino por el que pasaron. Todo se hará nuevo.


Es esa esperanza la que sostuvo a la gente durante sus años de exilio y en los años siguientes. Es una visión, así que algo que puede parecer remoto pero que está casi cerca como si lo tocara con la punta de los dedos. La esperanza colmó esa brecha. No es una utopía. Es una promesa que valió la pena esperar. Y la única seguridad es que Dios es fiel a su pueblo, incluso si le fueron infieles.


El evangelio también apunta a una situación similar. Un funcionario real vino a Jesús pidiéndole que viniera a su casa y sanara al hijo del funcionario real. Su hijo era el punto de la muerte. La historia tiene un giro sorprendente. Jesús no fue con el funcionario real para curar a su hijo. Jesús simplemente le dijo que se fuera a casa. Y que su "hijo vivirá".


Si estuvieras en el lugar del funcionario real, ¿irías a casa y creerías en lo que Jesús dijo? ¿O prefieres rogar aún más que Jesús vaya contigo? ¿Son suficientes las palabras de Jesús? ¿O le gustaría una señal más segura?

El funcionario creía en las palabras de Jesús. Eso puede ser fácil de decir. Pero al igual que cualquier persona humana, el viaje de regreso a casa puede estar lleno de preguntas y dudas. No hay otra garantía que no sean las palabras de Jesús. Pero continuó aferrándose a esa promesa. No estaba consternado. Jesús dijo la verdad.


En este momento de incertidumbre, solo tenemos que confiar en nuestra fe. Creemos en los talentos dados por Dios de todos aquellos que buscan una solución. Creemos en el hecho de que todos están haciendo lo mejor que pueden. Creemos que la gran brecha entre lo suficiente y lo insuficiente algún día se llenará. Creemos que Dios está cada vez más involucrado en nuestra lucha y continúa manteniendo nuestros esfuerzos. Y esperamos ver la luz del día. Nunca permaneceremos sepultados.


Esta noche, un amigo mío me preguntó si está bien decorar la iglesia con una cruz vacía y una tumba vacía, ya que no celebraremos la Pascua. Esta es mi respuesta a él:


“Tendremos Pascua con o sin la gente en la celebración litúrgica. Todavía proclamaremos la proclamación de Pascua, el EXULTET, y lo proclamaremos con valentía en la Vigilia de Pascua. Todavía proclamaremos que Jesús está vivo. Y así lo estaremos.


Proclamemos esta fe y esperanza que tenemos en Jesús. Deja que su luz brille a través de esta oscuridad. 


P. Pio Pareja, MMHC

image19

FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT

BEING BLIND TO SEE THE TRUTH

Year A 

March 22, 2020


I was looking at my Facebook account and I was trying to see what are the different postings and messages that people are putting into their account. I found some amusing and downright funny posting. I was appalled by some who intentionally or unintentionally added to the confusion by sending out messages that are fake news and at times insensitive to the gravity of the situation. At the same time I found messages that appears prophetic by quoting from the book of the Prophets in the Bible and condemns the present generation for their sins and points out that COVID-19 is God’s punishment for the sins of the people. 


Before I make a comment on such message, let us listen to the words of the Gospel today: 


“As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.’”


We are too quick to judge the situation of others by the end result of their lives today. When we see bad things happening in their lives we always conclude that it is a result of their bad habits, wrong decisions, or something that they deserved. We may be “correct” in our judgment if we know the person. We always see their “bad fortune” as a result of something they have done wrong.


If we are only looking at God in terms of reward and punishment, we may even be correct in our statement. But there is also something that the Old Testament writers were grappling to understand – “Why do just and good people suffer and the evil doers prosper? If God is good, why does He allow evil to continue? If God is powerful, why is He not intervening to prevent disaster to happen to the innocent?” These are just some of the many questions that do not have clear answers. The books of Job and of the prophet Jonah are but some of the books in the Bible that tried to pierce into the mystery of suffering and evil. Did they have the complete answer? No! They only provided a way of looking at the reality and provide a way of seeing God who is at work in and through these situations. But still some questions remains.


Jesus was confronted by the same age old question confronting human misery. “Who sinned – this man or his parents?” Infirmities were seen as God’s punishment for sins committed. Good health is a reward for being good and just. But the response of Jesus surprised the disciples – “Neither he or his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” 


While it is true that God can make use of nature to punish the sinfulness of man, it would be wrong to totally ascribe to what is happening as an act of God. There are so many things that happen which are products of acts of man. We created or helped create the situation. 


To continue on these arguments will only detract us from what we should be focusing. 


       What I realize during the past week are the following:

       We can only appreciate the star when it is dark. 

       We can only experience that longing for something or someone when it is withhold from us or when we  

               become apart. 

       We only become aware of the value of something or someone until we lose them. 

       We can only deeply understand our need for another until we realize our limitations. 

       We become more secure when we are together. 

       We see human kindness at its best when we are in our worst situations. 

       We are able to see what we can still do when we are faced with restriction. 

       We become more imaginative and creative. 

       We grow inwardly in order to empower our capacity to do something.

       We became more contemplative since we have nothing more to do but raise our thoughts and our hearts 

               to God.

       We are able to go beyond what is humanly possible to surpass the challenges that we face. 

       We became more connected to those that really matter. 

       We have become more sensitive to the needs of others. 

       We have learned to put our selfishness, our pride, and our egocentric mentality behind for the good of all.

       We realized that it is better to light just one little candle than curse the darkness.


These are silver linings that I am able to see as go through this together. These helped us see beyond the blindness that this situation creates. This is God’s grace that is at work in you and me. 

 

When all we do is complain, we fail to see the beautiful realities that are emerging. We become blind. We become depressed. We become negative. 


God is giving us an opportunity to see the situation as an opportunity to rediscover:

       - those things, those opportunities, and those people that we take for granted; 

       - those that we never noticed because we were too busy doing other things;

       - the beauty of those moments to be together and make it better;

       - the need to change our attitudes and way of living;

       - the magic of creativeness and thinking outside the box;

       - the invitation to deepen our faith even when we do not see the end of the tunnel; strengthen our hope 

                 to see beyond the realities that obscure our vision; and to expand our capacity to love; but above all, 

       - the call to be still and to listen, to pray and to contemplate, to discover God in a new way, and to know 

                 Him intimately.


As we continue our living our life within the context of social distancing, may we rediscover the path to wholeness, healing, and sense of oneness with God and our neighbor. 


Let us become God’s instrument to help others see. Let us not muddle and obscure the vision of hope. Let us become the dirt that Jesus combined with his spittle that helps to open the eyes that are blind. Let the water of grace wash away those that keeps us from seeing. 


Fr. Pius Pareja, MMHC

image20

CUARTO DOMINGO DE CUARESMA

ESTAR CIEGO PARA VER LA VERDAD

Año A

22 de marzo de 2020


Estaba mirando mi cuenta de Facebook y estaba tratando de ver cuáles son las diferentes publicaciones y mensajes que las personas están poniendo en su cuenta. Encontré algunas publicaciones divertidas y francamente cómico. Yo estaba horrorizado por algunos que intencionalmente o no agrega a la confusión al enviar mensajes que son noticias falsas y, a veces, insensibles a la gravedad de la situación. Al mismo tiempo, encontré mensajes que parecen proféticos al citar el libro de los Profetas en la Biblia y condena a la generación actual por sus pecados y señala que COVID-19 es el castigo de Dios por los pecados de la gente.


Antes de hacer un comentario sobre tal mensaje, escuchemos las palabras del Evangelio hoy:


“En aquel tiempo, Jesús vio al pasar a un ciego de nacimiento, y sus discípulos le preguntaron: ‘Maestro, ¿quién pecó para que éste naciera ciego, él o sus padres?’ Jesús respondió: ‘Ni él pecó, ni tampoco sus padres. Nació así para que en él se manifestaran las obras de Dios.’”


Somos demasiado rápidos para juzgar la situación de los demás por el resultado final de sus vidas hoy. Cuando vemos que suceden cosas malas en sus vidas, siempre concluimos que es el resultado de sus malos hábitos, decisiones equivocadas o algo que se merecían. Podemos ser "correctos" en nuestro juicio si conocemos a la persona. Siempre vemos su "mala fortuna" como resultado de algo que han hecho mal.

Si solo estamos mirando a Dios en términos de recompensa y castigo, podemos estar en lo correcto en nuestra declaración. Pero también hay algo que los escritores del Antiguo Testamento estaban tratando de entender: “¿Por qué sufren las personas justas y buenas y prosperan los malvados? Si Dios es bueno, ¿por qué permite que continúe el mal? Si Dios es poderoso, ¿por qué no está interviniendo para evitar que ocurra un desastre para los inocentes? Estas son solo algunas de las muchas preguntas que no tienen respuestas claras. Los libros de Job y del profeta Jonás son solo algunos de los libros de la Biblia que intentaron penetrar en el misterio del sufrimiento y el mal. ¿Tenían la respuesta completa? ¡No! Solo proporcionaron una forma de ver la realidad y una forma de ver a Dios que está trabajando en estas situaciones y a través de ellas. Pero aún quedan algunas preguntas.


Jesús se enfrentó a la misma pregunta ancestral que confronta la miseria humana. “Maestro, ¿quién pecó para que éste naciera ciego, él o sus padres?”  Las enfermedades se veían como el castigo de Dios por los pecados cometidos. La buena salud es una recompensa por ser bueno y justo. Pero la respuesta de Jesús sorprendió a los discípulos: “Ni él pecó, ni tampoco sus padres. Nació así para que en él se manifestaran las obras de Dios.”


Si bien es cierto que Dios puede hacer uso de la naturaleza para castigar la pecaminosidad del hombre, sería un error atribuir totalmente lo que está sucediendo como un acto de Dios. Hay tantas cosas que suceden que son productos de los actos del hombre. Creamos o ayudamos a crear la situación.


Continuar con estos argumentos solo nos restará valor a lo que deberíamos centrarnos.


De lo que me di cuenta durante la semana pasada son los siguientes:


      Solo podemos apreciar la estrella cuando está oscuro.

      Solo podemos experimentar ese anhelo por algo o alguien cuando se nos oculta o cuando nos separamos.

      Solo nos damos cuenta del valor de algo o alguien hasta que lo perdemos.

      Solo podemos entender profundamente nuestra necesidad de otro hasta que nos demos cuenta de 

            nuestras limitaciones.

      Nos volvemos más seguros cuando estamos juntos.

      Vemos la bondad humana en su mejor momento cuando estamos en nuestras peores situaciones.

      Podemos ver lo que aún podemos hacer cuando nos enfrentamos a restricciones.

      Nos volvemos más imaginativos y creativos.

      Crecemos interiormente para potenciar nuestra capacidad de hacer algo.

      Nos volvimos más contemplativos ya que no tenemos nada más que hacer que elevar nuestros 

            pensamientos y nuestros corazones a Dios.

      Somos capaces de ir más allá de lo humanamente posible para superar los desafíos que enfrentamos.

      Nos conectamos más con los que realmente importan.

      Nos hemos vuelto más sensibles a las necesidades de los demás.

      Hemos aprendido a dejar atrás nuestro egoísmo, nuestro orgullo y nuestra mentalidad egocéntrica por el     

            bien de todos.

      Nos dimos cuenta de que es mejor encender solo una pequeña vela que maldecir la oscuridad.


Estos son rayos de luz que puedo ver mientras pasan por esto juntos. Esto nos ayudó a ver más allá de la ceguera que crea esta situación. Esta es la gracia de Dios que está trabajando en ti y en mí.


Cuando todo lo que hacemos es quejarnos, no vemos las hermosas realidades que están surgiendo. Nos volvemos ciegos. Nos deprimimos Nos volvemos negativos.


Dios nos está dando la oportunidad de ver la situación como una oportunidad para redescubrir: 

      - esas cosas, esas oportunidades y esas personas que damos por sentado;

      - los que nunca notamos porque estábamos demasiado ocupados haciendo otras cosas;

      - la belleza de esos momentos para estar juntos y mejorarlo;

      - la necesidad de cambiar nuestras actitudes y forma de vida;

      - la magia de la creatividad y el pensamiento fuera de la forma habitual;

      - la invitación a profundizar nuestra fe incluso cuando no vemos el final del túnel; fortalecer nuestra 

             esperanza de ver más allá de las realidades que oscurecen nuestra visión; y expandir nuestra capacidad 

             de amar; pero sobre todo,

      - el llamado a estar quieto y escuchar, rezar y contemplar, descubrir a Dios de una manera nueva y 

             conocerlo íntimamente.


A medida que continuamos viviendo nuestra vida dentro del contexto del distanciamiento social, podemos redescubrir el camino hacia la integridad, la curación y el sentido de unidad con Dios y nuestro prójimo.


Convirtámonos en el instrumento de Dios para ayudar a otros a ver. No confundamos y oscurezcamos la visión de la esperanza. Convirtámonos en la tierra que Jesús combinó con su saliva que ayuda a abrir los ojos que son ciegos. Deje que el agua de la gracia lave aquellas cosas que nos impiden ver.


P. Pio Pareja, MMHC

image21

god's faithfulness - a call to be faithful

Solemnity of St. Joseph, the husband of Mary

March 19, 2020


Today is the solemnity of St. Joseph, the husband of Mary. We take a time off from the regular reading for Lent and listen to the readings proper to the celebration.


As I reflect on the readings of this day, one word came to focus - FAITHFULNESS. 


The first reading speaks of God's faithfulness in fulfilling His promise, His commitment to David. Even if the later descendants of David were unfaithful to Him, He remained faithful to the vow He has made. 


The second reading speaks of the faithfulness of Abraham to God through all the hardships he endured. He trusted in God even when all he has was God's promise. He held on even when it seems impossible. And even if God seems to be taking away the only link to the fulfillment of the promise, Abraham was willing to obey and let go.


The gospel speaks of Joseph accepting God's call for him to be the father of His Son, Jesus and take Mary as his wife. Joseph faithfully discharged his vocation not simply in the aspect of obligation but in the totality of self-giving to his family as father and husband.


These challenge me to examine myself in terms of my own faithfulness. 


Faithfulness goes beyond the 'give and take' attitude. Sometimes when people do not keep their end of the bargain, it can give us a fair excuse not to keep our end of the bargain. It is just fair. "Why would I be faithful when the other one is not?" God's faithfulness is rooted in His innate goodness and not on others. He chooses to be faithful because He is faithful. To do it differently is to deny His very being. This challenges me to be faithful even if I would be the only one doing. The point of reference is not whether others are doing it but God who is ever faithful.


Faithfulness shines more brilliantly when it is not easy, when we can only see dimly or hardly any, when the only thing that keeps us hanging on is a promise. We have our own share of disappointment. Expectations play a great role in our decisions to continue or to consider other options. Abraham leads us to look beyond disappointments, detours, delays, and even the seemingly inconsistencies.


Faithfulness is embracing the whole reality of our vocation even if it may not be according to our plans. We want things to be perfect in everything and deviation from the path that we have charted upsets us. Life is not about having everything perfectly but perfecting the imperfect reality we have. It is making the best of whatever situation we find ourselves in. It is opening ourselves to the possibilities that the sudden turn of events may lead us to. Joseph has shown us great adaptability in embracing new realities of his journey. He may not be familiar with it, but knowing it is the path to take, he forged on and without looking back and faithfully lived his life as father to Jesus and husband to Mary.


Whatever may be our challenge to be faithful, may these assist us and lead us to faithfully journey on the path we are called to respond in faith..


Fr. Pius Pareja. MMHC



 

FIDELIDAD
Solemnidad de San José, esposo de María
19 de marzo de 2020


Hoy es la solemnidad de San José, el esposo de María.


Tomamos un tiempo libre de la lectura regular para la Cuaresma y escuchamos las lecturas propias de la celebración.


Mientras reflexiono sobre las lecturas de este día, una palabra vino a enfocarse: FIDELIDAD.

La segunda lectura habla de la fidelidad de Abraham a Dios a través de todas las dificultades que soportó. Confió en Dios incluso cuando todo lo que tenía era la promesa de Dios. Aguantó incluso cuando parece imposible. E incluso si Dios parece estar quitando el único eslabón para el cumplimiento de la promesa, Abraham estaba dispuesto a obedecer y dejar ir.


El evangelio habla de José aceptando el llamado de Dios para que él sea el padre de su Hijo, Jesús y tome a María como su esposa. Joseph cumplió fielmente su vocación no solo en el aspecto de la obligación sino en la totalidad de la entrega a su familia como padre y esposo.


Estos me desafían a examinarme en términos de mi propia fidelidad.


La fidelidad va más allá de la actitud de "dar y recibir". A veces, cuando las personas no cumplen con su parte del trato, puede darnos una excusa justa para no mantener nuestro parte del trato. Es justo "¿Por qué sería fiel cuando el otro no lo es?" La fidelidad de Dios está enraizada en su bondad innata y no en los demás. Él elige ser fiel porque es fiel. Hacerlo de manera diferente es negar su propio ser. Esto me desafía a ser fiel, incluso si fuera el único en hacerlo. El punto de referencia no es si otros lo están haciendo sino Dios que siempre es fiel.


La fidelidad brilla más cuando no es fácil, cuando solo podemos ver tenuemente o casi nada, cuando lo único que nos mantiene aferrados es una promesa. Tenemos nuestra propia parte de decepción. Las expectativas juegan un gran papel en nuestras decisiones de continuar o considerar otras opciones. Abraham nos lleva a mirar más allá de las decepciones, desvíos, retrasos e incluso las inconsistencias aparentemente.

La fidelidad abarca toda la realidad de nuestra vocación, incluso si no está de acuerdo con nuestros planes. Queremos que las cosas sean perfectas en todo y la desviación del camino que hemos trazado nos trastorna. La vida no se trata de tener todo perfectamente sino de perfeccionar la realidad imperfecta que tenemos. Está aprovechando al máximo cualquier situación en la que nos encontremos. Nos está abriendo a las posibilidades a las que nos puede llevar el giro repentino de los acontecimientos. Joseph nos ha mostrado una gran adaptabilidad al abrazar nuevas realidades de su viaje. Puede que no esté familiarizado con eso, pero sabiendo que es el camino a seguir, siguió adelante sin mirar atrás y vivió fielmente su vida como padre de Jesús y esposo de María.


Cualquiera que sea nuestro desafío para ser fieles, que nos ayuden y nos lleven a un viaje fiel en el camino al que estamos llamados a responder con fe.


P. Pius Pareja, MMHC

image22