Monday, October 24, 2011

When our work seems small and insignificant...


In the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast, Jesus shows us that even though the things of the Kingdom of God may seem very small and insignificant, in God’s eyes they are very great and powerful. Let us not be discouraged when our work seems small and insignificant because if done with love for God, it will bear an abundant harvest in His time.

R: Alleluia, alleluia
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R: Alleluia, alleluia

Luke 13:18-21
18 Jesus said, “What is the kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it? 19 It is like a mustard seed that a person took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and ‘the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.’” 20 Again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened.”

my reflections
t h i n k : Let us not be discouraged when our work seems small and insignificant because if done with love for God, it will bear an abundant harvest in His time.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Is There Compassion for Sidewalk Vendors in Our Government Leader's Hearts?

I am a native of Lapu-Lapu City or Opon, as it is called in the past. We call ourselves Oponganon and that binds us together both as residents of this small island in Cebu and believers of Jesus Christ and Mama Mary.

Have you ever gone to our local church? The Virgen de Regla Parish has a shrine of our Blessed Virgin Mother, Mama Mary, gently holding the baby Jesus – our Sr. Sto. NiƱo de Cebu in her arms. A lot of pilgrims and devotees flock to our church because we believe that our patron is miraculous – more so because we are praying to both Jesus and Mary every time we visit our Virgin of the Rule.

She has been our patron as far back as I could remember. Since I was a little child, I have been a part of this church – the Holy Catholic church – and God has always blessed our family abundantly with so much love. Though there may have been heartaches along the way, God has always been there and so has the Blessed Virgin Mary.

My grandma tells me that a woman who was unable to conceive for many years came to visit our Virgin of the Rule and a few years later, came back to thank the parish priest because she was finally able to give birth to a child, thanks to her devotion to our Virgin of the Rule.

Sometimes when I tell this story to my friends, I get goose bumps because I am amazed at how much God loves us and how much He loves Mama Mary… whatever she asks for us, her intercession is always honoured by our Lord Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father.

What breaks my heart is the constant attacks against our local vendors. You see, it happened outside our very own church one fateful night, the irony still lingers in my heart – there was a healing mass scheduled that night and even before it could begin, there was a truckload of policemen and their aides, who took away all of the shoes and bags and other items that were being sold by our local vendors. I remember that night because so many “nanays” (mothers) were very angry. I understand why. They voted for the same government officials who are taking away their livelihood.

Standing there, watching them take everything away, I felt so helpless. I tried calling an old friend who used to fight for human rights but I could no longer reach her. And then I asked one of the nanays, why are they taking away your “tinda” products? They told me that our mayor wants them to find a new place to sell their products and she is asking for permits and taxes. The irony is this – small business owners and sidewalk vendors have to pay taxes and permits while “The Mactan Export Processing Zone is an industrial tax-free zone.”

“The Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) is a 120-hectare industrial estate located at Lapu-Lapu City.  It started out with 8 companies in 1986.  Twenty-four years later, MEPZ 1 has 148 locators.  This growth reflects the fast-paced economic development that is happening in Lapu-lapu City.  The Mactan Export Processing Zone is an industrial tax-free zone.

Factories in MEPZ 1 deliver world-class products to the United States, the European Economic Community and Japan. Such products include watches, semiconductors, electrical equipment, garments and precious jewelry.”


Then yesterday, the same thing happened, this time closer to home. My neighbours were totally caught unawares. Their corn, guavas, pineapples and other products were taken. This is so frustrating because I do not understand why they keep taking away our sidewalk vendors’ livelihood. Why on earth would our own local government want to take away the livelihood of their own constituents? There are so many ways to help them like giving them a place where they can keep selling whatever food or items and still find customers. My uncle even said, sidewalk vendors deserve a chance to earn an honest living. And I agree with him totally.

The thing is these people are earning an honest living so why can’t our government officials just let them be? Which leads me to my next question… could these constant attacks against the poor in Opon be the reason for the rising violence? Or maybe this is unrelated. I do not know. What I do know is, based on the news that Lola shares with me from the radio, violence here in Opon is rising. People are shooting other people left and right almost every night. There are even parents selling their children’s innocence on the internet. Do we really want this to be our future?

I believe that God has put us here for a good purpose a really good one. But with the way things are going, I am confused. How can we help? Why can’t we just get along and give each other a chance? Is there a way that we can resolve this problem without destroying other people’s lives? I am reminded of the cavalier way they spray firemen’s water against squatters or start a fire there just to make the demolition easier. Our government officials should be on our side, shouldn’t they? After all, they swore an oath to serve and protect. So why are they attacking the poor? It makes no sense and it’s heartbreaking!!!

And so I pray, Lord Jesus, please grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things that we can and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

God's Calling and My Journey with Him

I have been on a journey of self-discovery and now I realize that Mama Mary has always been with me. It’s hard to explain but I believe that she has strengthened my faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and brought me from the darkness of sin to the light of God’s love and grace. My constant prayer to her is, “Mama Mary, please bring me closer to Jesus” and she has never left my side even though I have sinned many times.

In the same way, I feel God’s love is with me always, even during my darkest hours. My Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has been with me through it all. And I do believe that Jesus is my first love simply because He loves me even before I was conceived. He is a constant presence that I cannot ignore and His call is resounding in my ears always. I don’t know where He wants me to go or what He wants me to do for Him but this much I know – my life is yours Lord Jesus Christ even though I know that it will never be enough to repay all of your love and mercy and grace and your living sacrifice, which I am blessed to experience every single day of my life.

And that is why I will strive to do my best to serve You, Lord Jesus and Mama Mary every day of my life, in every little way that I can. I know deep in my heart that You love me Lord Jesus and Mama Mary and I am ready to open my heart and my life to you. More importantly, I ask You Lord Jesus to open my heart, which I lift up to you in praise right now. We glorify your name Lord Jesus and worship you alone. And from the depths of my heart, I lift up my life to You Lord Jesus because I know that You alone can rescue me.

My worst nightmares have come true and yet I am still here, alive and amazed. My dreams have also come true and for both times, I am grateful because Your promise is true Lord Jesus. You will never leave us Lord Jesus and you will be with us until the day we leave this earth and meet you someday only You know. And so I pray that as I continue on this voyage, that love will be my center, faith will be my shield, and hope will be a constant part of my life. Lord Jesus, I trust in you. I believe that You will never leave us. Thank You Jesus and Mary.

Precious blood of Jesus, Save us. Immaculate Heart of Mary, Pray for us. Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have Mercy on us. Amen.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ask and you shall receive...

Thank God for answered prayers...
Thank God for answering prayers I have not even uttered...
Thank God for answering prayers in His time...
Thank God for answering prayers that weren't even mine...
Thank God for answering prayers.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lord, teach us to pray...

R: Alleluia, alleluia
You have received a spirit of adoption as sons through which we cry: Abba! Father!
R: Alleluia, alleluia

Luke 11:1-4
1 Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” 2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread 4 and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.”

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

God is My Provider & My Healer

I haven't written my feelings for a while now so I think I'll give it a shot today. I have a bunch of projects waiting to be finished and I'm stressing a bit about them but I'm thinking to myself, I should probably give myself some time to "relax and sit at the foot of Jesus" just like it says in today's Gospel reflections.

I just had the worst night ever. I woke up at about 3am feeling a great big cramp on both arms because I joined an aerobics class last night and kind of overdid it, as I'm wont to do. I just said out loud, "Oh well, my fault" and then I realize that it's no longer helping me, this blame game. It's been going on for far too long and most of the time I point my very own fingers at myself anyway so I'm thinking, what's the point?

Going back to my "worst night ever" (lol. such drama.), I could barely move my arms let alone get back to sleep. Well, I can move them but they sure were heavy. Like I was lifting a couple of pails. And now I feel like Jill. Where on earth is Jack when you need him. lol. Seriously, all I could do was pray for deliverance and so I called on Jesus and Mama Mary and St. Joseph and our Heavenly Father, even though it was embarrassing for me after all the complaining I've been doing the past few... I don't know.

The good news is God does forgive. And He is loving. And he took away that awful, horrible pain in my arms. And I slept like a baby after that. I woke up feeling sluggish but refreshed and very, very hungry. I'm going through a crisis right now but I'm no longer that alarmed. I have no money for food, not even a piece of bread but I know now that God will never leave my side. Jesus is with me no matter what and He will take care of my needs.

I've been wracking my head for the best way to serve Jesus and Mama Mary like maybe build houses or take care of street children but now I realize that we are not called to do big things just to serve God. Every little thing I do to help a fellow human being is enough for Jesus and He never asked me to go to Africa to feed little children or build houses for the homeless here in Cebu. All He really wants is for me to never stray from Him. And I guess that is what Mama Mary wants me to do too.

I've been trying so hard to do so many things which I thought was so important. And I've been complaining A LOT because I feel so helpless, like I have not done my share to help others. In a way that is true but in a way that is also a lie. I just feel so helpless watching my grandma suffer not knowing how to alleviate her suffering and ease her pain. And so I immerse myself in my work, hoping that I can get away from that feeling of helplessness. I just want to take her pain away. My greatest fear right now, I guess, is losing her. I feel like I am useless because I can't heal her. I pray every day with her and for her but it seems that there is no improvement. And then I look up and see Jesus pointing towards his Sacred Heart and Mama Mary's hands folded in prayer and I realize that if I truly love my Lola, I would help her any way I could.

And so I say goodbye for now, hoping and praying for a miracle. I just need to know that I am helping. But I want it to be something concrete and not just money because I don't have any right now. I offer this prayer for my Lola.

Lord Jesus, I offer this prayer for my Lola Mary. Please ease her suffering and take her pain away. Guide me and use me to serve and love her more. Teach me the value of love, obedience, respect and true humility so that I can help ease her suffering. Show me Lord Jesus how I can help Lola and I will do it. This I ask in Jesus' name. Amen.

Mama Mary, Queen of all saints, pray for us. Amen.