March 31, 2009
5th Sunday of Lent
John 12: 20-33 “Sir, we would like to see Jesus”
Today is the last Sunday of Lent. As we move closer to commemorate the passion and death of Jesus next Sunday, it is good to ask for the grace we want to receive during the Holy Week. Our pericope today gives us one of the best prayers in the Gospel and it came from the outcast gentiles – the Greeks: “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” (v. 20). This simple prayer could help us walk through the Holy Week as we remember Jesus’ ultimate expression of His love for us - offering His life for our salvation.
When Philip and Andrew accompanied some Greeks to Jesus in their desire to know Him, we are surprised by Jesus’ answer, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” It seems that Jesus is not connecting with the Greeks. Their request is simply “to see.” But Jesus’ response is “to die.”
On second thought, Jesus is actually answering the Greeks! He wants them to see Him in a different but life-changing perspective. Usually when we pray to Jesus, we want to see Him in his divinity – a bright shining light, defender of the oppressed, a miracle worker and healer, a God who always answers our prayers. When we come to Him, we want to hear his victory over evil, pain and suffering.
But Jesus is introducing a different Him in our gospel. It goes against our expectation of a victorious God and challenges us to journey with Him into an undiscovered, unpopular, and less traveled road known as “dying to ourselves.”
To see God is to die from our own selfishness and self-centeredness by carrying our daily crosses. It is easy for us to see God when everything is okay, when we have money, when we are healthy, when we have friends in our presence, and when we and our family are well secured. But we tend to lose our sight and become blind when it goes the other way around and when things are falling apart. We hardly see Jesus in our difficulties and trials in our life. We even questioned the love of God when we are humiliated, insulted, betrayed, and left alone. In moments like these, abandoning God becomes a very tempting option. Sad to say, many of us are still infant Christians. Ironically, in the realm of spirituality, dying is the only way to growing.
In the gospel of Mark, it was ironic that a non-believer Roman officer saw something while Jesus was hanging on the cross. In the midst of humiliation, defeat, and death, he saw something and proclaimed his faith, “Truly, this man was really the Son of God.” (Mark 15:39). He saw Jesus’ real identity on the cross.
Let’s be with Jesus in His journey to life this coming Holy Week. See Him hanging on the cross. Feel his struggles in obeying God’s will. Feel His pain. He was abandoned, betrayed, humiliated, and insulted. But He willingly carried His cross until death for our salvation.
As the Greeks said, “We want to see Jesus.” Do you want to see Him also? I want to. But we have to realize that seeing comes at a cost. IT WILL COST US OUR LIVES BUT IT WILL SAVE US. (John 12:25).
Fr. Willy M. Samson, SJ
St. Joseph Church, Zamboanga City
March 29, 2009
Note: Below is another “Buhay Boksing” experience from another friend of mine.
My new life here in the US has been a boxing match between me and my self. It sounds funny but yes, my greatest enemy is myself - my own temperament, my being indecisive and dependence to some people to suggest decisions for me, my impatience, my ungratefulness to God, etc...
Many times in my life here, I come to HIM for help when I am already at the cross roads or in very rough times and in most cases when my journey seems okay, I seldom thank HIM! I realized that God never used them against me, but I feel the shame/guilt. I usually embraced negativity over things, became impatient and made bad decisions. In turn, I ended up regretting over them.
YET, God in his His unconditional LOVE, never abandoned me. If my mathematical mind is right, God's help/guidance/company... is enormous that I could not count them, because no matter how bad my decisions were, God still makes me feel that I am truly loved by HIM. I wrote you about "When it rains, it pours" but I feel, it should be "When God pours, HE keeps on pouring."
There are many times that I thought I would ran away from the boxing ring because I could not raise my hand to give another punch to my enemy and yet when I hear the 'ting-ting-ting", I feel God's hands leading me to the seat in my corner to coach me to breath, relax my muscles, clear up my mind and then FIGHT AGAIN at the sound of the bell. God in HIS most loving voice saying: "I am here and I will be watching you. No matter what, I will be here waiting for you after each round!" HE continuously pours blessing, no matter what I do, no matter how bad my sins are (but of course, this has never been my excuse to keep sinning- God forbids), it is just that I feel that no matter what I do, HE is always there to give me the blessings I need to survive and in most cases, the blessings again are enormous. Kahit sa dami ng aking mga “ungrateful moment,” … isang pasalamat lang, bubuhos na kaagad ang mga grasya galing sa KANYA! Nakakahiya nga, pero ganoon nga siguro magmahal ang DIYOS! Walang kupas, walang kondisyon, "walang iwanan" sa lahat ng pakiki-boxing ko sa buhay--Pilipinas man o Amerika, walang tigil ang buhos ng mga grasya!
Sa Buhay-boksing, may pahinga naman dahil may "ting, ting, ting." Sa lahat ng pakikibaka na nagawa ko na, kitang-kita ko ang Diyos at ang galaw NIYA na misteryoso---paibaiba ang style, pero iisa lang ang pinanggagalingan - PAGMAMAHAL NIYA SA AKIN!
salamat sa mga homilya mo! napakalaking tulong sa akin!
ingat ka lagi,
A friend from the United States
March 27, 2009
Here are some of the responses I got from my homily "Buhay Boksing"
If you want to add and be posted here, feel free to write me at email@example.com
Your name will not be mentioned.
Ang buhay nga ay parang boxing kailangan mong sumuntok at tamaan ang kalaban para manalo ka. Pero kailangan din ang pag-iingat at dapat marunong kang umilag para di ka mapuruhan.
Hinarap ko ang laban pagkamatay ng aking tatay, ilang buwan na ang nakalipas mahirap pala pero, wala akong magawa kundi harapin ang susunod na hamon. Sa pakikipaglaban ko sa loob ng ring ramdam ko na ang aking pagkatalo. Unti-unti akong nanghihina pero pinilit ko pa rin lumaban.
Sa Pagdarasal ko araw-araw at paghingi ng tulong sa poong maykapal at ang hindi ko pagbitiw sa kanya. Ako ay muling nagkaroon ng panibagong lakas upang haraping muli ang panibagong laban sa aking buhay.
Salamat sa mga Homily na pinadadala mo. Malaki ang naitulong nito sa akin.
May katatapos lang akong laban. Laban ng aking kalusugan. Pero okey na man na ang resulta ng ultra sound. Pero alam niyo po ba bago pa man ako sumabak sa boxing ring napanghinaan na agad ako. Di pa nga ako sumubok lumaban umiiyak na ako. Iyak na ako ng iyak. Kahinaan ba ang pag-iyak? Sa palagay ko hindi. Kasi nangangahulugan lang naman ito na kailangan ko ng kakampi sa laban na ito. Kahit di siya tumulong sumuntok.....kahit tagasigaw lang na kaya ko.....at tagapalakpak sa bawat bitaw ko rin ng aking suntok. Pero natakot talaga ako. Hindi ako makatulog. Pero sa mga takot na iyon may bumulong sa akin na "kaya mo iyan. Maging okey ka lang. Huwag kang matakot.".....ang mga panalangin at pagtitiwala sa Kanya ang nagbigay sa akin ng lakas. At hayun nga wala naman pala akong dapat ipag-alala sa nangyari sa akin noong miyerkules. Pero dapat ko pa ring pag-ingatan ang aking sarili.
Minsan kasi di pa nga natin sinubukang lumaban taas na agad ang kamay natin. Suko na agad. At sasabihing di ko kayang lumaban. Dapat pala lumaban kahit nakakatakot kasi may Kakampi ka naman talaga. Minsan di lang natin Siya napapansin. Nandiyan lang Siya sa tabi naghihintay.
Sa boksing ng buhay, ako yung tipo ng tao na iiwas sa suntok, iikot lang ng iikot sa ring hanggang mag-bell at pupunta sa corner para magpalakas ulet ng loob. Sa susunod na round, iisip ng technique kung panu makakalampas ulet ng di tinatamaan, then pahinga ulet kapag nag-bell. In fairness, tumatanggap ako ng suntok minsan, pero minsan di ako bumabangon, knock out agad. Minsan din naman nananalo ako, wow sarap ng feeling…akalain mong nalampasan ko yun! Pero kahit panalo minsan, dahil ilang beses akong nasuntok, parang nakakatakot lumaban ulet.
Hanggang ngayon po, nasa training pa din ako. Ang sarap mag training kasama si Lord na coach ko. Masaya kong mag-serve sa simbahan, umattend ng retreat/seminars at kahit anung church activity na madami akong matututunan para mas lalong gumanda ang relationship namin ni Lord. Sa kahit anong laban, kumakapit ako kay Lord…alam kong di ako iiwanan ng coach ko. At idagdag ko pa ang mga taong kagaya ni Fr. Willy…dahil sa kanila alam kong di ako nag iisa.
My new life here in the US has been a boxing match between me and my self. It sounds funny but yes, my greatest enemy is myself - my own temperament, my being indecisive and dependence to some extend to other people to suggest decisions for me, my impatience, my ungratefulness to God, etc...
many times of my life here, I ran to HIM for help when I am already at the cross roads or in very rough times and in most cases that my journey seems okay, I seldom thank HIM! I realized that God never it against me but since I felt the shame/guilt, I embraced negativity over things and so I made bad decisions. In turn, I ended up regreting over them.
YET, God in his HIS unconditional LOVE, He has never abandoned me here. If my mathematical mind is right, God's help/guidance/company... is enormous that I could not count them, because no matter how bad my decisions were, God still makes me feel that I am truly loved by HIM. I wrote you about "when it rains, it pours" but I feel, it should be "when God pours, HE keeps on pouring." There are many times that I thought I would ran away from the boxing ring because I could not raise my hand to give another punch to my enemy and yet when I hear the 'ting-ting-ting", I feel God's hands leading me to the seat in my corner to coach me to breath, relax my muscles, clear up my mind and then at the sound of the bell, God in HIS most loving voice saying: " I am here and I will be watching you. No matter what, I will be here waiting for you after each round!" HE continuously pours blessing no matter what I do, no matter how bad my sins are (but of course, this has never been my excuse to keep sinning- God forbids), it is just that I feel that no matter what I do, HE is always there to give me the blessings I need to survive and in most cases, the blessings again are enormous. Kahit sa dami ng ungrateful moments ko, pero isang pasalamat lang, bubuhos na kaagad ang mga grasya galing sa KANYA! nakakahiya nga, pero ganoon nga siguro magmahal ang DIYOS! Walang kupas, walang kondisyon, "walang iwanan" sa lahat ng pakikibaka ko sa buhay--Pilipinas man o Amerika, walang tigil ang buhos ng mga grasya!
Kaya heto ako, patuloy na naniniwala sa Kanyang pag-ibig sa akin kahit hindi ako karapatdapat. Pero sa patuloy na pag-galaw ng Diyos sa aking buhay, dahan-dahan ko rin nasabi sa sarili ko na "ako ay karapatdapat ding mahalin ng Diyos kahit akoy meron pagkakamali!" Ginusto ko ng isipin na hindi maging insecure sa pag-ibig ng Diyos dahil ngayon lagi kong iisipin na hindi lang ako mahal ng Diyos kundi "mahal na mahal na mahal na mahal ako ng Diyos!!!!!"
Buhay-boksing, may pahinga dahil may "ting" pero sa lahat ng pakikibaka na nagawa ko na, kitang-kitang ko Diyos at ang galaw NIYA na misteryoso---paibaiba ang style, pero iisa lang ang pinanggagalingan - PAGMAMAHAL NIYA SA AKIN!
salamat sa mga homilya mo! napakalaking tulong sa akin!
ingat ka lagi,
East Cost, USA
Hirap na hirap ako sa bagong trabaho ko kasi nga hindi ako sanay sa physical work pero natutuwa ako kapag napansin ko na excited na naman akong pumasok sa trabaho tonight. 11pm to 7am ako this week pero excited akong pumasok tonight. :) Pangalawang gabi ko ito sa pagbubuhat at paglilinis sa mga pasyente para man lang maginhawaan sila habang nakaratay sa kama. Ito ang isa sa nagpapasaya sa akin dito, mahirap man ang trabaho ko pero kapag iniisip ko na maginhawaan at maibsan ang discomfort nila, masaya na ako!
My friend and I talked about my worst experience at the nursing home last week but still we ended up seeing the positive side of the experience! Amazing how different the consequence is when you look at things the positive way. Especially when the experience is hard enough for me to give in to the temptation of giving up or wallow at the negative side.
Sa buhay-boksing, mahirap ang laban kapag hindi ko kita ang kalaban o hindi ko alam ang estilo niya pero kahit ganito ang sitwasyon, tanging paniniwala sa Diyos ang nagsilbing parang butas para man lang masilayan ko kahit maliit lang na liwanag.kasi nga kahit papano, kahit gaano kaliit ang butas na yan, tila nagniningning pa rin ang liwanag sa bumabalot na dilim.
Mandilim man ang paningin ko habang nakikipag-boksing sa buhay, pero meron akong Diyos na nagmamahal sa akin, tama na yon!
salamat sa patuloy mong pagdarasal sa akin,
Feel ko na rin makipag-boxing...ehehehhe
Pero kailangan ko ng trainer... hopefully sa coming holy week maka-re charge / makadasal ng mahaba-haba... sana.
Sige po. God bless.
Maraming salamat sa inyong reflections..hindi ko alam kung makakatulong ito,pero sa aking palagay,ito'y pagkakataon ibahagi ang aking sariling laban, at kung paano ko ito nilalabanan.
Una sa lahat, ako po'y araw-araw na nagdadasal at nagpapasalamat sa Poong Maykapal sa aking eastado sa buhay.Ako'y nagagalak na buhay ako,ang aking mga mahal sa buhay at wala akong ina-apakang ibang tao.Kung tutu-usin sa mga aspetong ito,ay okey nako.pero dahil sa tao tayo at nasa mundong ito,hindi maiiwasang makipag-sapalaran sa buhay.
Ang kalaban ko ay buhay mismo. Nakakatakot isipin na kahit anong paghahanda,pag-iisip at preparasyon ang gawin mo,wala kang garantiya na mangyayari ang gusto mo.ewan ko sa inyo,pero di ba bad trip yung may pangarap ka,may plano katapos di mangyayari?Na tipong binubuhos mo lahat pero di mo alam kung anong kalalabasan? Sa totoong lang ayokong isipin, baka mawasak pa ako.
Sa ngayon, ako'y nakikipagsapalaran sa ibang bansa.Sabi nila,mas madali raw kasing makamit ang gusto mo sa abroad.(ewan ko lang,sa sobrang pait ng realidad ngayon di mo na alam kung ano ang tama at kung ano ang dapat).Di ko alam kung ano ang mangyayari pero andito nako ngayon.Nasa loob na ng ring,wala nang atrasan,tumunog na ang bell.Fight.Wala nang mga resbak,wala ng sandata kundi sarili ko.Kaharap ko,kalaban ko,malaki na! mabilis pa!Di mo alam saan manggaling ang mga suntok niya.Mukhang dehado ako,pero sabi nga nila:"it is how you play the game".
"It is how you play the game."Sa aking palagay,ito ang dapat nasa puso't isipan natin.Alalahanin natin na binuhos at binigay na ng Diyos lahat ng pag-e-ensayo na kailangan natin para sa mga laban natin.WE ARE JUST TOO AFRAID.Sa ngayon,di ko alam kung ano ang mangyayari.Ang alam ko lang ay alam ko ang dapat kong gawin upang mangyari ang gusto kong mangyari.Ang tanong eh kaya ba nating gawin ang mga dapat nating gawin?
that is the challenge..
Thanks Fr Willy, it is universal complaint, I bet when you do not have anything to complain about you will still be complaining about nothing. From my point of view it is not really "complaining" but "airing" ones grievances, " para bang pressure cooker, kailangan palabasin and pressure para hindi sumabog". I guess it is a coping mechanism. If you express yourself so often, one day one will listen but we know that God is always there to listen. In my job , I hear complaints everyday from physical to psychological and material, however I feel blessed for the chance to listen to others and it gives me a different perspective of my life, makes me appreciate the mundane things in my life. It gives me a chance to touch pone's hand and nod and perhaps for that moment I am in the grace of God and for that moment there is someone there to listen to another one's grief. But then again I get paid to do this perhaps if I was not it will be who different perspective.
Anyway we all need prayers and I know that you are there and all my friends and families are there to pray for my family even if I do not hear from them and vice versa
Napakaganda nitong reflection, tuloy na-inspire at lumakas akong bumalik sa gitna ng boxing court ng buhay ko upang ituloy and laban at huwag bibigay kahit ano pa man.At the same time, hintayin ang mga kaibigan ko sa side ng ring upang tulungang maghilom ng sugat at suportahan din sa kani-kanilang laban sa buhay.
Salamat po sa pagshare nyo sa akin ng message. ang ganda. buhay nga pala ay parang boksing....:-) nabubugbog at nasusugatan tayo. at sa bawat round may pahinga at higit sa lahat may katapusan ang bawat laban. Thanks ulit ang ganda.
Salamat sa iyo at kay Mira. Kinailangan ko itong muli, mga salita na kahit alam mo na at nasa puso mo na, dapat mo paring marinig muli. I was wrong to say "at the end of the day, we are all alone". We have Kuya Jess..and that makes Him THE MAN.
- Sydney Boy
Hi! naiiyak parin ako habang binabasa ko ang email ko, na homily mo, buhay boksing sabi mo nga. nakakaiyak talaga, sana makatulong sa mga makabasa na ganyang talaga ang buhay at ang Diyos parin ang kasama natin sa hirap at ginhawa. Salamat sa paulit ulit na pagtitiwala at pakikinig.
Ang buhay nga talaga ay parang boksing. Hay,habang ako ay nagbabalik tanaw sa sarili kung mga laban ng buhay hindi ko tuloy lubos maisip kung ano ang aking dapat maramdaman. Dahil sa isang iglap lang bumalik ang lahat na masasakit na alaala, ang mga di magandang karanasan at mga taong nagdulot ng pait at pighati sa aking puso. Dahil dun hindi ko kayang pigilin ang mga luha sa aking mga mata.
Ganun pa man …..
Nanaig pa rin ang ngiti sa aking mga labi at ang galak ng aking puso. Sa bawat laban ng buhay na aking tinahak, natanto ko na kailan man ay hindi ako nag- iisa. Dahil sa bawat sandali na nais kong sumuko, may isang tunay na kaibigan na nagbibigay ng pag asa.. At sa tuwing ang bawat kamao ko ay hindi na kayang isuntok, may isang pang kamao na nagbibigay lakas.
Sa lahat ng laban ng aking buhay, damang dama ko ang wagas ng Pag-ibig ng Dios. Kaya nga natutunan ko, na kung nais kong manalo sa laban ng totoong buhay… dapat matutunan ko rin kung paano masaktan at masugatan sa bawat laban. Dahil sa bawat sakit na naidulot nito doon ko natutunan kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng totoong pag- ibig at pagmamahal. At Sa bawat sugat … may paghilom.
Ang pag-ibig at ang paghilom ang nagturo sa akin kung paano magpatawad. Sa pagpapatawad ko lamang nararanasan ang mabuhay nang payapa.
Maraming salamat Ama sa pagbabahagi..
- Zamboanga lady.
Good Afternoon po Fr. Willy,
I like it. I really like the response you’ve given to our sister.
In real situation, kung mahina ang foundation at mahina ang faith mo, the natural tendency is to get out. That is, the easiest and simplest way, to get rid of the situation. But are we really getting out of the situation? Kapag di natin hinarap ang problema, pagkagising mo sa umaga nandiyan pa rin iyan hanggat di natin natutugunan ng maayos at mahinahon. Siguro ang dapat lang, tumahimik pansamantala at harapin kung mahinahon na an gating isipan.
Oo nga naman, ang pakiramdam natin ay wala na tayong kakampi kapag di tayo hinarap at tinulungan ng iba. Di natin naiisip na sila din ay may kinahaharap na mga pagsubok kung kayat bahagya o di lubos na makatulong sa atin. We only think of ourselves not realizing that everybody have their own crosses to bear everyday and everywhere.
Its nice to know that after every crosses and when we overcome these difficulties in our life, victorious ang Panginoon and He is happy when we stick to HIM despite these hardships at wala ngang nagwawagi sa taong sumusuko o umaayaw. So regardless of the situation, we need to face all challenges in life, keep hoping, keep the faith, keep close to the Lord and keep on praying.
- New York, USA
This is also very appropriate and good to share to our members who wanted to back out and cease serving just because one or two unloving people are coming in to the leadership. While I confirm the difficulty whenever this person is around, nothing we can do to get rid of him as he was voted by the people. The only way now is to learn to love the person and try to befriend him as we feel God allowed it to happen for a purpose.
- New York, USA
Hi Fr. Willy :)
Thank you po sa mga homily na shina-share nyo samin. Halos lahat naman ng homily na pinapadala nyo para kong binabatukan hehehe. Thank you po at sobrang enlightening ng mga pinapadala nyo.
Tama din po kayo na maski yung reflection ng ibang tao nakapagbigay ng lakas ng loob sa isat-isa. Na di ko aakalain na may mas malas at mas malungkot pang tao kesa sakin, kaya lalakas ang loob na lalong harapin ang buhay kasama si Lord.
Sige po, ako din gagawa ako ng buhay boksing ko :) It's also a healing for me when I share my shortcomings and struggles in life. Mahirap yung nahihirapan ka na pala di mo pa pinapansin, how can we open up to the Lord's healing if we don't acknowledge the pain.
God bless you always Fr.Willy,
Jesus was the ULTIMATE boxer...he took all the blows, bruised, battered and heavily bloody.... He accepted it all till death. Were we there for Him as a friend at the bottom of the Cross to nurse Him back to health and give Him our support and loyalty? Or did we choose to be by-standers just waiting for a miracle to happen? Sometimes it's easy to take the "safe" approach of watching from the sidelines and see how things unfold.
- Chatswood, Sydney
Dear Fr. Willy,
I am sharing with you my own greatest fight in life. I am inspired to write when I read (in your blogspot) that there are so many people who have been victorious in their boxing struggle in life.
In December 2006 after five years of being married (still childless) I came to know of a devastating reality. My ultrasound result (which my Ob asked me to undergo) revealed the most painful punch that I have ever in my life. The result said that there is a thin lining dividing my endometria thus giving me a very slim chance of bearing a child in my womb. When the OB told me this, I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t breath. I felt a big thumped on my chest. The Ob ended the consultation with “just pray harder.”
On our way home, nobody talked about it. I brought this heartbreaking truth in my sleep. I had nightmare that night. My husband woke me up because I was crying too loud. Then, I realized that it was in my sleep that I was able to pour out my hurt. I just couldn’t bear the pain. The pain was just too enormous for me. My husband embraced me so tightly and affirmed his love for me even if we can’t have a child.
This particular situation brought me to a different kind of fight. I tried to figure who’s to blame (if this is the right word) in my predicament. Who was my opponent in this particular fight? I turned to God. I ask Him “why Lord? Why me of all people. Why deprived me of your greatest gift? Why deprived me of the gift of motherhood?”
After pouring out these questions to God, I stopped crying and even stopped talking about it. I tried to ignore the pain. I got tired of feeling the pain, likewise got tired of asking the WHY questions. And I told myself who am I to go against God.
I went on with my life. But deep inside me, I was broken. I suffered enough from the blow of this reality. I felt incomplete. I felt so alone in the middle of a boxing ring still trying to win the fight. But I lost. I was on my knees telling God that I surrender. Di ko na kaya ang sakit LORD. Then I fell down. After a while, He picked me up in the middle of the boxing ring defeated in this fight. Wounded and broken. He brought me to the ringside and started telling me that “ I still love you my child even without a child.” He still loves me despite my imperfections and my incompleteness. It was in this particular moment that I opened the issue again to HIM. I disclosed to Him my innermost hurts and feelings. While doing this, I cried a lot. (I haven’t cried in months). After weeping, I felt unburdened. I felt a dagger was being removed from my heart. Though I didn’t feel whole again, I believe that God is taking me to the process of healing my deep wound.
I am in the process of healing when I SURRENDERED myself to God. Now I realize, that putting your hands up in a fight does not mean you’re defeated. Surrendering in this particular fight (to me) means yielding to the WILL of GOD. It does not at all mean losing the fight……to me it is victory with God.
I have a different perspective of life now. Sometimes, it takes a situation for us to understand more deeply the realities and mysteries of life. Likewise, this circumstance helps me arrive at a deeper understanding with God and myself. Fr. Willy, you told me this “Understanding my humanity is leading me to understanding God’s divinity.” I see things differently now. My being childless has brought me to a reality that God is leading me a different life, a life with HIM. In fact, graces are slowly unfolding in front me…….maybe later giving me the answer to my WHY questions. I know that in all of these experiences lie purposes and deeper meaning of my existence.
Fr. Willy may I take this opportunity to thank you for also being there at the ring side. Thank you for helping me transend in all of the pains that I have. Salamat sa iyong mga panalangin. Sana’y di kayo magsawa sa mga kwento ng buhay ng tao (tulad ko.) :-D
I’m a mother of two kids, parehong babae, my eldest is almost three years old and my youngest is 6 months old. Ito ang boksing ng buhay ko…
Round 1: I’m staying with my in laws, we have our own room but we share the same kitchen and dining room. Araw-araw, nakikita ko ang dalawang sister in law at father in law ko. Ang isang sister in law ko ay married, may dalawang anak, pero hiwalay siya sa kanyang husband. Ang isa ay single.
Sa married na sister in law ako nahihirapan. I don’t like how she disciplines her daughters: one is 2 years old and the other one is one year old, pinapalo niya palagi at sinisigawan pag may ginawang mali o makulit ang mga anak niya. Mahirap kasi nagluluto o kumakain kami sa dining room, nakikita ko at nakikita ng anak ko. Isang beses nakita ko sa mukha ng anak ko yung takot. Naawa ako sa anak ko. Paminsan ayaw na niyang pupunta sa kusina kasama ng yaya niya.
Sa mga sister in law ang marihap, they communicate each other using Chinese language, most of the times I can not understand, but I can feel they talk against me or against my husband. Paghindi ko kasama husband ko sa dining table, hindi na lang ako kakain. Kasi hindi man ako komportable. At pinaka masakit ang nakikita ko, sinisigawan nila ang father in law ko, pag nag-aaway sila, nakikita yun ng anak ko. Para sa akin they should respect him, even though they feel they are right. They can talk in a nice way or in a low voice, they should not shout to their father. Ayokong lumaki ang anak nakikita yun.
Inisip ko na lang, siguro ganun ang sister in law dahil hiwalay sila mag-asawa at wala siyang trabaho. I prayed that she can handle her own problems positively and not hurting her own daughters.
I have talk to my husband regarding these problems; we are looking for a house to stay. But my father- in- law talk to him, can we stay maybe for another 2 to 3 years with him, because he wants my husband to take care of him rather than my sister in laws. I agreed to stay. Alam ko man kaya ko tong problema, my kasama ako Si Lord at ang asawa ko. Ilang tulog lang yan.
Round 2. How to discipline our children. Lumaki ako pinapalo kami ng tatay ko, pag may kasalan ako o may kasalanan ang mga kapatid ko. Ayoko ganun paraan e disiplina ang mga anak ko, dahil para sa akin nagkakaroon ng trauma. Same with my husband, pinapalo din siya mg mama niya. I have learn from one doctor and a mother the best may to discipline your child is through face the wall, afterwards explain to her why mama or papa gets angry or ano mali ang ginawa niya, then hug her to assure her we still love her. Ok na naman ganun, dahil maintindihan ng mga anak natin kung bakit. Husband ko kasi pag galit na talaga siya pinapalo niya at nagbibitaw ng masasakit na salita. Sabi ko sa kanya e correct ang mali niya, hindi yung bitawan ng masasakit na salita “malas ka sa buhay ko”, “demonya ka”. Masakit para sa isang nanay marinig yun, kasi blessing ang mga anak. Ang panganay naming anak , she is a answered prayer, she is a gift nung birthday ko. O makikita mo may pasa ang anak mo. I prayed habaan niya ang pasesya niya at sana we can agree on how to discipline our children. Mahaba pa itong round ng boksing ko. Alam ko kaya ko to walang imposible pag kasama ko si Lord at si Bro Jesus. Marami pang boksing rounds pa mangyayari hindi parin tayo dapat susuko.
My latest miracle is my youngest daughter, I got sick during my pregnancy “similar siya sa measles”, sabi ng doctor ko my side effect yung sa baby. Either mabibingin siya o magkaroon ng cleft lips. I cried a lot, palaging man ako nagdadasal, pero that time, I prayed for the safety of my baby and she will be fine. One day I saw Fr. Willy sa campus, sabi niya sa akin, pray to God she will be ok, walang imposible sa Dios, and talk to her she will be fine. Isipin ng walang samamang mangyari sa kanya. “Think positive everyday”. Nag ultrasound ako sa eight month ng pagbubuntis ko, sabi ng doctors ok ang baby ko, pero hintayin natin paglabas para malaman natin yung other side effects “deaf”. Paglabas ng baby ko, ginawa lahat ng check up sa kanya. Praise God OK ang baby ko. Now she is on her six months, malusog at malikot. Masayahin baby. . Thank you Lord and thank you din Fr Willy sa prayers.
… kung gusto mong magdagdag ng iyong karanasan sa boksing ng buhay …
Huwag mahiyang sumulat sa akin …. firstname.lastname@example.org
March 26, 2009
Friday - 4th Week of Lent
John 7:1-2; 10.25-30 "Is he not the one they are trying to kill?"
Allow me to share a different homily ... in a creative way.
This is a real exchange of email between me and my friend in Manila.
Hi! talagang loaded ang lola hindi lang sa weight, pati sa labas at loob hehehe!!....alam mo nagsusumigaw ang loob ko. I'm loaded Lord!!!...naisip kung makipagkita kay Fr. Mario, hintayin ko siya pagkatapos niyang magpakumpisal, hehehe alam niya ata na hinihintay ko siya, sabi agad niya, dami niya ginagawa, kaya pa-schedule nalang ako sa kanya hehehe galing talaga diba.
Kasi ang pakiramdam ko kailangan ko ng tagapakinig, nang masusumbungang tao, na tatapik sa akin, masayang balita walang taong puwede, kasi lahat ay busy. Kaya iyon balik pa rin ako kay Hesus. Kasi sabi ko kay Hesus… pwede ka bang bumaba muna sa Krus, tapos usap lang tayo, kasi lagi ka na lang diyan sa Krus, sagot niya, “E ako mismo loaded sa problema ng mundo.”
Saan nanggagaling ang aking pagka-loaded? Sa pamilya, si mama mga ilang araw na ring sinusumpong ng hika. Mahirap talaga. Nakaka-awang tingnan at saka ang gamot araw araw mahina ang P200. Sa gamot niya ... ako lang ang nag-aasikaso kasi di ko maasahan ang aking mga kapatid. Sila rin hirap. Okay lang kahit nahihirapan ka , pero meron namang magandang resulta, e kaso para kang binabaon sa kahirapan. Asar talaga. Iyong bang sunud-sunod na hirap, walang bigas, pang-ulam at iba. Sabi ko bakit ako lang ang nagpapasan nito? Nakakainis talaga. Tapos wala ka nang malapitan kasi nautangan mo na rin lahat. Haay naku, nakakaiyak talaga.
Nakakatulala, nakakapanghina ang ganitong sitwasyon, pero tuloy lang ang buhay. Tapos paglabas mo ng bahay, asar, sobrang init. Pag-loaded ka mas madali mag-init ulo o ma-high blood, para bang pwede kang kumain ng tao, sobra talaga ang tensyon ko.
Pag dating ko naman dito sa opisina, meron akong kaibigan, galing din sa loaded situation at nag-share. Hala gusto ko nang sabihin, I'm out of order hehehe, pero makinig na lang, ngiti tapos wala lang, o di ba ang galing ng pang-asar. Para bang crossessssss is on the air, hay naku, in na in na ako sa holy weeek.........,
Buti nalang may email. Kaya sabi ko makasumbong nga kay Willy, bahala siya busy o hindi tapos bigla kang nag-HI sa YM.. Sobra talagang mapagbiro ang tadhana.
Alam mo parang may allergy na ako sa salitang BUSY, kasi lagi akong nasusupalpal niyan, sinusubukan ko rin naman intindihin ang mga tao, pero nauuwi rin ako sa pagka-asar at pagdaramdam. Pakiramdam ko para akong nanghihingi ng limos at walang nagbibigay ng limos. Kumikitid ang aking pang-unawa, nagagalit at napipikon ako sa kabila ng pagsusumikap kung maintindihan ang laht at ang aking sarili. Pasensiya na ha masyado lang akong pranning ngayon.
O sige na, maraming salamat sa iyong pagbibigay pansin.
Dama ko ang bigat ng iyong email ...halos lagnatin ang aking puso habang binabasa ko ang bigat ng iyong dinadala ngayon ... Hindi ko na rin alam ang sasabihin sa iyo ... kundi ang sabihan ka na HUWAG BIBIGAY.. hay naku.. ganyan naman ata talaga ang buhay .. parang boksing ... kapag nag-ting-ting na ang bell ... pupunta ka na sa gitna ng ring upang makipabakbakan na naman sa buhay ... ng nag-iisa. Alam naman natin na sa huling pagtutuos ... ikaw at ang Diyos lamang ang lalaban sa boksing ... ang ating mga kaibigan, laging nariyan lang sa corner ...naghihiintay ng tapos ng round upang magbigay ng kaunting inspirasyon, maglagay ng kaunting gamot sa mga pasa at sugat na ating inabot sa boksing ng buhay, tapos bibigkasin lamang ang salitang …KAYA MO YAN PARE KO!
Pero alam mo, ang maganda ng boksing ...may katapusan ... at ang nagwawagi e yung mga boksingerong kahit na bugbog sarado sa kalaban, kahit na dehado .. matatapos pa rin ang round ng nakatayo ang dalawang paa. Hindi ba ito ang mahalaga sa boksing ... ang manatiling nakatayo? ... sumuntok ng sumuntok ... at habang nasusugatan ...dapat lalong tumapang . Sa buhay natin ngayon, bawal ang duwag ... hindi nagtatagumpay ang mga taong duwag ... walang boksingerong tumakbo sa kalaban … kaya laban lang kaibigan ...kahit na sangkaterba ang bukol at pasa, kahit na naliligo sa dugo ang iyong mga mukha sa suntok ng kalaban ...laban lang ...suntok lang … pasasaan ba't matatapos din ang boksing ...at kapag natapos na ang boksing ...asahan mong may mga kaibigan na naghihintay sa iyo. Huwag ka ng magtampo sa mga kaibigan mo … huwag mong asahan na lagi kang sasamahan ng iyong mga kaibigan sa iyong boksing ... magandang imulat ang mga mata at malaman na meron din silang sariling boksing ng buhay na dinadaanan.
S huling pagtutuos .. ang Diyos ang tunay nating kasama sa boksing ng buhay. Kaya’t huwag magdamdam na wala ang mga kaibigan. Huwag mo silang sisihin, may boksing silang sarili. Malungkot ding bumalik sa ating corner pagkatapos ng isang round o pagkatapos ng lahat ng rounds … na wala kang babalikang kaibigan na magpapagaling ng iyong sugat.
Isang taga-hanga at naghihintay sa iyong corner,
March 25, 2009
4th Sunday of Lent
John 3:14-21 “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must
the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have
Our gospel today allows us to return to the “on and off” relationship of the Israelites with Yahweh. In bondage for 430 years, they cried out to God for freedom. God answered them and led them out of Egypt to the Promised Land. Unfortunately, while traversing the land of Edom, they became impatient and spoke against God and Moses for lack of water and food (Numbers 21:5). They lost their sight of the Promised Land because of hunger and long journey to nowhere. Because of their impatience, the Lord sent poisonous snakes, bit them and many died. When they repented, God commanded Moses to make a bronze snake, set it on a pole, and everyone who looked at it lived.
The life of the Israelites is a reflection of our life. We too have asked God of something: a new house, Australian citizenship, a happy family, a comfortable life, a baby child, reconciliation with a friend, healing from a long ailment, for our children to finish college and more. We cross our fingers and hope that God, in His time, will grant our dreams. But our waiting becomes weeks, months, and years. We start to doubt God. We become impatient. We don’t want to wait. We want an instant solution or answer. In our desire to speed up the process, we end up doing hasty crazy decisions that lead us to sin or commit mistakes.
Most of our sins are caused by our impatience. We don’t want to be suspended in mystery, uncertainties and suffering. We want to reach the end without delay. We want to solve the puzzle. When the devil sees this growing impatience in us, he will offer an “instant solution” - a very tempting alternative to God’s promise. This is the modern poisonous snakes. And it bites when one becomes impatient.
But God’s love and forgiveness never ceases. In the New Testament, instead of offering a bronze snake on a pole to look upon for healing, God offered His only Son – on the wooden pole. Anyone who looks and believes in Him will be saved. (John 3:14). But believing here should go beyond words. Believing means following the footstep of Jesus. Every time I look at the crucifix, I’m inspired by Jesus’ patience and endurance to hold on until death. It gives me strength to move on and carry my daily crosses with determination. Surprisingly true, when one believes, patience flows deep!
To be patient is to be calm, to allow God to be in control, to smile when plans are not working well, to gladly tolerate delays, to hug the unknown, and to be hopeful.
In our present world of “quick fix, rush job, instant food, digitals, internet, cut and paste, Google, liposuction, lotto, overnight affair, and divorce” - we are made to believe that PATIENCE is no longer a virtue. If you are slowly becoming a believer of this, stop for awhile. Watch a sunset, spend time with your lolo and lola, remove the white hair of your father, cook guinatan with your mom, or visit the Blessed Sacrament for an hour.
There is always joy in discovering that simple things in life can teach us the virtue of patience. Open your eyes. Good things are fruits of hard work, patience, and endurance.
"Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses and disappointments; but let us have patience and we soon shall see them in their proper figures."
- Joseph Addison
- Fr.Willy M. Samson,SJ
Zamboanga Catedral, March 22, 2009
March 23, 2009
Saturday – 3rd Week of Lent
Luke 18: 9-14 “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one
who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Paul and his wife returned to New York after 20 years of service in Africa. It was an uneventful day for them but not to the President of the United States who also arrived at the airport in his Air Force One after two weeks of vacation. People from all walks of life welcomed the President. The bands played music. Paul said to his wife, “It seems that our 20 years of service in Africa is a big mistake. Nobody welcomes us. Nobody recognized our years of hard work and sacrifice.” His wife lovingly hugged him and said, “Just pray.” After an hour of prayer, his wife asked him, “Did God talk to you?” Paul nodded with a smile and said, “God said, Paul don’t expect a warm welcome here, you are not yet home.”
Is it possible that, after years of personal prayer, masses, prayer meetings and outreach programs to the poor, you realized that not all your prayers are genuine? And not all your service or good works are genuine? Believe it or not, it is possible … especially if we are infected by the dreaded “Pharisee Virus.” Unfortunately, many of those who are contaminated with this spiritual virus are not even aware of it. The virus hides under the skin of self-righteousness, pride, and “I know more than thou” attitude.
The best way to understand this spiritual virus is by entering into the shoes of the typical Pharisee in our gospel. I realized that he is not really praying to God but to himself, “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of the community – greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and I pay tithes.” (Luke 18:11). He is actually priding or praising himself in the guise of praying!
Self-centered Christians who are not well appreciated and loved are prone to Pharisee Virus. Majority of them are KSP (“Kulang Sa Pansin”). Because of their self-centeredness, they are always craving for attention and love, but they are denied. The more they are denied, the more they seek for attention and love, but the more they are denied. It is a vicious trap. And when they failed to get love and attention, they ended up artificially loving themselves by priding themselves of their “good works” and begin criticizing and belittling others.
BEWARE. All of us are prone to this virus if we are not sensitive to our feelings and movements of different spirits (God, self, and evil) in our hearts. It is very subtle. It weaves naturally in our basic human need to be praised, needed and loved. There is nothing wrong to seek praise and honor for all our hard work. We need to be loved and praised. But if the virus totally controls us, then all our “good works” will be (unconsciously) motivated by our selfish desire to seek personal glorification and praise.
The antidote to this destructive virus is the bitter better pill known as the “Tax Collector Pill.” Main ingredients: HUMILITY – from knowing that everything is a gift or grace from God, even the good works that we did. Ironically, the recognition that we owe everything to God is the basis for true self-esteem – “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14b)
One of my friends in New Bilibid Prison gave me another supplement pill to purify my motivation when serving others and to keep me humble: “Willy, when you do something for others, don’t expect anything in return, even the word “Thank You.”
"When we become aware of our humility, we've lost it."
- Fr.Willy M. Samson,SJ
Carmelite Convent, March 20, 2009
March 20, 2009
Solemnity of St.Joseph
Matthew 1:16.18-21.24 “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had
Saint Joseph is one of the least visible characters in the scripture. A friend of mine who is a devotee of Saint Joseph defines him as the hidden jewel of the New Testament. Reading through the first two chapters of Matthew, three common characteristics described Saint Joseph: Dreamer – Frustrated – Obedient.
He was a dreamer, but a frustrated dreamer. He dreamed of having a happy family with his lovely wife Mary. But the angel appeared to him in a dream and proclaimed she was already pregnant by the Holy Spirit. He planned to break off the engagement in private, but the angel told him to take Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:18-23). When Jesus was born, he dreamed of Jesus growing in Nazareth. But the angel appeared again in a dream and told him to take Jesus and Mary to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-18). When they were already settled happily in Egypt, the angel of God appeared again and told him to bring his family back to Israel (Matthew 2:19-23). Just imagine the frustrations of Saint Joseph. And yet, in all these events, I am touched how Saint Joseph lovingly obeyed God, “Your wish is my command.”
Looking back, the life of Saint Joseph is more or less similar to our lives. We are also dreamers. We have many plans in our life and for our families: a retreat in Baguio this summer, to migrate in the United States, to pass the board exams, to get married in two years, to win in annulment case, to buy new house, a new Philippine president, and many other plans and dreams. And like Saint Joseph, some of our small and big dreams remain a dream – unfulfilled and unanswered. We are frustrated. We blame God. We stop going to Mass and attending prayer meetings. We question God’s existence. We rebel against Him. Some of us change became a non-believer. Worst of all, we slip through anger, depression, and hopelessness. It pains us because we tried controlling our destiny but to no avail.
God wants us to plan and dream. God is always giving us a hand in our life. But sometimes, when our plans are not working the way we want it to be, or the way we want to see it, let’s open the possibility that God is offering us a better option. In times like this, learn the art of letting go and letting God. Have faith and trust God. He knows better than us. Learn from Saint Joseph. Be obedient.
My Tatay Francisco was a frustrated engineer. In my desire to fulfill the dream of my father, I took the Civil Engineering at the University of Santo Tomas and passed the board exam. But God made a turn-around in my life and I found myself as a Jesuit priest after saying yes to God’s promptings. Like my father, I ended up a frustrated engineer. But looking back, when I decided to follow the will of God and let go of my dreams, I realized that God gave me a better life. A friend of mine told me, “You are still an engineer – and a successful one, because you are helping the church build a spiritual bridge between God and His children.”
Sometimes, we may think that God is unfair for telling us to plan our life only to be told, “Do this and not that one.” But in the end, when we allow ourselves to follow God and cooperate with Him, we discover that God is not thinking of His own capriciousness but our own happiness: A life to the fullest! God has a greater plan for us. Saint Joseph discovered it. This is his most precious jewel!
What happens happen for a reason.
- Fr.Willy M. Samson,SJ
Carmelites Convent, March 19, 2009
Tuesday – 3rd Week of Lent
Matthew 18: 21-35 “I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?”
My Nanay Conching cleans our house everyday. Just to sweep the wooden floor, apply wax, and husk it manually takes more than an hour. But it is always a joy for us to see the floor shines. But the shining floor won’t last long when her grandchildren come to play at our house. When they leave the house, Nanay will quietly clean the floor again gladly. She said, “They are my grandchildren. I am willing to clean their mess because I love them. And beside, this is my house.”
Our life is like our house. We work hard to keep our life happy. We want peace. Unfortunately, some people intrude in our life and mess it. Ironically, most of the people that hurt us are the people we love or close to us. Can I also say, “It’s okay, I am willing to forgive them and to clean the mess they made in my life because I love them.” Anyway, it’s my life. I am responsible to fix my own life. It’s fatal to expect those who mess my life to fix or clean it. I may end up waiting for something that will not come.
Our gospel for today calls us to render unlimited forgiveness. Peter wants a limit: seven. But Jesus proposes seventy seven times, which means unlimited. Why? It is to our advantage. Jesus knows that limiting the number of times we should forgive limits our chance or opportunity for peace and happiness. He wants us to be happy always via forgiveness.
Forgiveness benefits both party. But the one who forgives benefits more.
When one renders forgiveness, he is not only gifting his enemy forgiveness and peace, but he is also gifting himself with the same token. To forgive is to free oneself from the bondage of anger, hatred, and vengeance. The truth is - the person who forgives is more at peace, freer and happier than the person forgiven.
Yet how come that it’s difficult for us to forgive? To forgive is easier said than done. I cannot totally blame anybody from nursing anger, resentment, and hate. I am sure God knows it is not easy to forgive and forget. The memory of hurt, betrayal and pain lingers in our hearts. But Jesus knows well our human nature (John 2:25). He knows that the only way to free our hearts from anger, hatred, and resentment is by allowing our hearts to remember God’s goodness and forgiveness: “I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?” (Matthew 18:32-33).
Generally, the grace of total forgiveness will come to us slowly. Time plays a crucial role in our healing and forgiving. Time is our friend and companion. We need to respect our own pace in forgiving people. God knows our human nature and He respects it. But God will ask us to give 3 (three) initial “down payments” to start the healing process: First, never curse or think evil against them. Second, pray for enlightenment to all parties involved including you. Third, ask for the grace to forgive. These are the seeds of forgiveness. And plant them in your heart, and slowly God will ease your pain, restore your peace and give you happiness. Remember… it’s your life
"A wise man will make haste to forgive, because he knows the full value of time and will not suffer it to pass away in unnecessary pain." (Rambler).
- Fr. Willy M. Samson, SJ - Carmelites Convent , March 18, 2009
March 16, 2009
3rd Sunday of Lent (B)
John 2: 13-25 “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a
We rarely see Jesus in rage in the Scripture. But in our gospel for today, we see Him making a whip out of cords and driving all those vendors and money changers away from the temple. And he said, “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” Why compare the temple into a marketplace? A marketplace is dirty, chaotic, and noisy. It is exactly the opposite of a temple: clean, orderly, and quiet. Jesus gives deep respect and devotion to the temple because it is the house of God. We can easily understand Jesus in his rage against the vendors and money changers. They are the source of the temple’s desecration.
It reminds me of our own Quiapo and Baclaran Church in Manila. Vendors selling candles, anting-antings, medicinal leaves, and pirated DVDs literally occupy the church’s outer walls. I think if Jesus would be here, he would not allow those unruly vendors and hawkers to occupy the outside walls. He would want the church’s premises to be clean, orderly and quiet.
In the spiritual realm, we are not far from the unruly vendors and money changers. But we don’t desecrate physical temple but people’s hearts – which is also the temple of God’s Spirit.
How? We do hurt people. We make them sad. Sometimes we make their life miserable because of our uncharitable words and actions. We intentionally hurt others because of anger, hatred, envy, rivalry, competition and biases. When we criticize people, give damaging comments, laugh at other’s mistake, accuse others falsely, when we respond sarcastically, when we ignore people or give them a cold treatment, or inflict them with emotional and physical pain, we are actually desecrating the temple of God in others.
Deeply rooted in our hearts is an unruly “vendor-like” attitude that sees others as “appliances” or “things” that can be used or abused. We don’t see them as our brothers and sisters. We don’t see them as temples of the Holy Spirit.
The Ten Commandments (first reading) are precepts given to Moses – for us to know what true worship means. Worshipping God is intrinsically connected to respecting others. Respecting others is respecting God. That’s true worship! Honour your father and mother. You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witnesses against your neighbours and etc. Jesus summarized them in two commandments, “Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Love your neighbour as you love yourself.”
If Jesus was deeply affected when the Jerusalem Temple was desecrated by the vendors and money changers, how much more when we offend and hurt others? We should be more careful with our words and actions. A well thought words and actions could console and lift a heart. A harsh words and actions could destroy a soul. We are not unruly vendors and money changers by nature. We are children of God: Born to love and destined to care.
In heaven, a big signage hangs on the gate:
“NO (unruly) VENDORS ALLOWED”
- Fr. Willy M. Samson,SJ
March 15, 2009
March 14, 2009
Saturday – 2nd Week of Lent
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 “Coming to his senses he thought, ‘I shall get up and go to my
father and I shall say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and
against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you
would treat one of your hired workers."' He got up and went back to his father.
Imagine this: You are an OFW in Kuwait for more than 20 years. In your desire to bring home more money, you opted to stay and forgo your annual vacation to the Philippines. Finally your boss allowed you to go home for a short visit. You are excited. Bringing a big balikbayan box with you, you finally arrived home. And when your maid opened the door of your house, your wife and all your children rushed to the balikbayan box, excitedly opened it, and grabbed their pasalubongs. They totally forgot you. No hugs from your children. No kiss from your wife. They are totally distracted by the balikbayan box. What would you feel? I am sure you will be offended and disappointed that they are more excited to get their pasalubongs than to see you.
We are disgusted with the wife and the children’s wrong priority. But sometimes we are like them who are so engrossed with the gift (time, talents, and treasure) and ignored God, the Giver of gift.
In our gospel, when the younger son asked for his share of inheritance from his father, It is like indirectly telling his father, “I need your wealth. Not you.” I am sure the action of the younger son was a knife to the father’s heart. But the father did not show any anger but silently gave what his son was asking. No questions asked. No scolding.
When the son left his father’s house, his treasured wealth started to disappear. He later realized after dining with the pigs that he made a wrong choice. Then “coming to his senses,” the younger son returned to the father with a proposal: “Treat me as your servant and not as a son.” Again, without any question or scolding, the father joyfully said, “Let us celebrate because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again.”
Sinning against God is setting our eyes not on the Father but on his balikbayan boxes - when we prefer the gift rather than the giver of the gifts. This is our modern idolatry. But in spite of our ungratefulness, God never stops showering us with his grace.
In this Lenten season, we pray for the grace of “coming to our senses.” May God open our eyes for us to return to God what is due to Him: Our gratefulness. We are fortunate we are not yet “dining with pigs.” We still have everything: Our family, our parents, our wife/husband/children. We still have our health, memory, and strength. We still have the LOVE OF THE FATHER in spite of our unfaithfulness. Let’s come to our senses now, see that everything is gift, repent, and return to the Father.
Do not be tempted and blinded by our “balikbayan boxes” (our time, talents, and treasure). They are gifts but not our God. They are good servants but poor masters. They can give us happiness but not inner joy and peace. They are life-satisfying but not heavenly fulfilling. Yet many of us are still slaves of them. Let’s come into our senses (BALIK) and return to the fold of the Father (BAYAN). Let’s lean on to the GIVER OF LIFE and not on WHAT LIFE CAN GIVE TO US.
"But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. [Matthew 6:20]"
- Fr.Willy M. Samson,SJ
Pilar College, March 13, 2009
March 13, 2009
Thursday - 2nd Week of Lent
Luke 16: 19-31 “And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus,
covered with sores”
A couple married for 60 years had shared and talked about everything. They had kept no secrets from each other except that the wife had a shoe box in her cabinet that she had cautioned her husband never to open or ask her about it.
For all of these years, the man had never thought about the box. But when the wife was about to die, she agreed that it was time that he should know what was in the box. When he opened it, he found two crocheted dolls and a stack of money totalling P 100,000.
He asked her about the contents. “My grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was to never argue. She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doll.” The man was so moved; he had to fight back tears. Only two dolls were in the box. She had only been angry with him two times in all those years of living together. He finally cried out of joy. “Honey,” he said, “that explains the doll, but what about all of this money? Where did it come from?”
“Oh, I forgot to tell you.” she said, “That’s the money I earned from selling dolls.”
We may have laughed with the story. But if God will have to crochet dolls out of our own insensitivity to others, I’m sure God will also earn a good amount of money.
Our gospel for today is about the sin of insensitivity. In the story, it was not explicitly mentioned that the rich man was an evil man or immoral. But we were told that the poor man Lazarus was always at the door of the rich man’s house, begging for food scraps and dogs licking his sores. Luke gave us a very graphic description of Lazarus’ ordeal and suffering, in the hope it would make us uneasy and uncomfortable, and turn our eyes to Lazarus in the process. Unfortunately, the rich man did not.
In general, we are basically good Christians, incapable of committing heinous crimes that deserve death penalty. But we could fall short from the devil’s most reliable and effective trap: Insensitivity. Webster describes insensitivity as “asleep, dead, insensible, numb, unfeeling, and unaware.” Are you like these?
We are surrounded by our own “Lazaruses” in our life. Ironically, we see them everyday. We frequently mingle with them. We know them well. They are always at our doorsteps begging for mercy and love; but its either we deliberately closed our eyes on them or we failed to notice them: a beggar, a neighbour, a co-teacher, an old janitor, a garbage collector. Some of them are in our house: a bedridden aunt, a sick but very demanding grandfather, an overstaying jobless relative, an ugly houseboy or katulong. And some of them are so near and very dear to us but we ignore, hurt and abuse them with our unkind words, uncharitable action and cold treatment: an under-achiever daughter, a jobless brother, an old smelly grandfather, an uneducated sister-in-law, or an unforgiven husband or mother. What they need from us is not our money but mercy and love. They just want a little respect and care. A smile. A consoling words like “kumusta ka na? or thank you” A tap to their shoulders. To be recognized and appreciated. To be accepted. To be listened. To be forgiven. To be seen.
Who are the Lazaruses in your life? Open your eyes. If you can’t see them, you cannot see God.
"We may have civilized bodies and yet barbarous souls. We are blind to the real sights of this world; deaf to its voice; and dead to its death. And not till we know, that one grief outweighs ten thousand joys will we become what Christianity is striving to make us." - Herman Melville
- Fr.Willy M. Samson
Fort Pilar, Zamboanga City
March 12, 2009
March 9, 2009
2nd Sunday of Lent (B)
Mark 9:2-10 “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to
In our gospel today, Jesus knows that he will suffer and die on the cross. But he also knows that three days after, the Father would raise him up. Reading the first half of the Gospel of Mark, we could see that Jesus spoke three times of His suffering, death, and rising after three days; but the disciples failed to understand. They could not accept that the Messiah must suffer and die in humiliation to save humanity. It was scandalous and unacceptable for them to see Jesus suffers. Peter even scolded Jesus when He spoke of his impending death on the cross (Mark 8:32).
It is in this context that Jesus decided to reveal to them what’s life after the cross. He brought Peter, James and John to the mountain to experience a foretaste of what’s ahead of those who faithfully carry their crosses: a glimpse of resurrection via transfiguration. Unfortunately, there is only one and only way to resurrection: the way of the cross.
When they reached the mountain and Jesus started praying to the Father, His clothes became dazzling white! Elijah and Moses appeared. And they heard the words of a proud Father, “This is my beloved Son, LISTEN TO HIM.” The words of the Father are actually the synthesis of the life of Jesus – listening and obeying the Father.
Jesus is like us in all things except sin. He knows fear, anger, being abandoned, betrayed by friends, insulted by many, and misunderstood by his disciples and family. During those moments where Jesus could already sense his impending suffering and death, He needs to come to the Father and listen without any reservation. He knows that the Father is the only one who can give him strength and courage.
Unfortunately, the disciples misunderstood the transfiguration experience. The disciples were thrilled with the transfiguration’s triumphant mood. Peter even said, “Let us make tents here!” They just wanted to stay in the mountain in the company of Moses and Elijah. They did not want to go to Jerusalem. They were reluctant to carry their daily crosses as Jesus commanded them.
During Lent, we love praying the Way of the Cross, but we don’t want to live it. Sometimes we are tempted to say, “Lord, can we skip the Good Friday and go straight to Easter?” But life is not like that. There’s no genuine Easter celebration without faithfully undergoing our Good Fridays. Reality bites. We can’t run away from our daily trials. The more we run away from our cross, it becomes heavier. But when we embrace it, it becomes lighter! That’s the irony of the cross. Stand up for Jesus. Carry your cross. It’s your “grace-filled” opportunity to share in Jesus’ Paschal mystery.
Transfiguration is a glimpse of what’s ahead of us to encourage us to hold on and faithfully carry our daily trials and crosses in life. Follow the footstep of Jesus. Faithfully go to your mountain (prayer time) and LISTEN TO THE FATHER. Those who earnestly seek God in prayer will never be disappointed. God will give them courage, strength, and hope to face their crosses – that’s transfiguration!
This Lenten Season, don’t just pray the Way of the Cross. Live it! There’s victory ahead of us. Life is a sweet and sour experience!
- Fr. Willy M. Samson,SJ
House of Spirituality, Silsilah
March 8, 2009
March 7, 2009
Friday – 1st Week of Lent
Matthew 5: 20-26 “Leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled
with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
One of the things that amaze me in Astronomy is phenomenon called black holes. Science defines black hole as a region of space in which the gravitational field is so powerful that nothing, including visible light, can escape its pull. It continually absorbs any interstellar dusts from its direct surroundings. It eats practically anything!
Our gospel today speaks of a different black hole. It is a spiritual black hole. This spiritual black hole we commonly called “anger” can eat and absorb all our positive and spiritual energies. There are two kinds of anger for the Greeks: Thumos and Orge. Thumos (flame) which is described as anger which quickly blazes but quickly dies down. On the other hand, Orge (long-lived anger) which is described as the anger of a man who nurses broods for a long time and which he will not allow to die. Both anger can zap our energies.
We do have lots of thumos in our daily life. People around us can always trigger us to thumos: A maid who cannot follow simple instruction, noisy students in our class, an unkind word from our co-teacher or co-worker, receiving our son’s quarterly report card, unwashed dishes in our sink upon arriving home, a tricycle driver who charged P30 for a two-kilometer ride, a long non-sense homily, a waiter who serves wrong food after a long wait, a bank employee who entertained somebody who is not in the long queue, and many others. This spontaneous burst of anger is not yet a sin unless we allow this feeling to control us and lead us to say uncharitable words and bad action. It is simply our natural emotional reaction to something which is not right. Usually after expressing our anger to the person concerned, it simply disappears and dies down. Keeping this anger is useless and ridiculous. And yet it can still drain some of our positive energy and ruin our beautiful day. It’s a baby black hole.
On the other hand, orge (long-lived anger) is the kind of anger that can be compared to a destructive spiritual black hole. This anger is the one liable to judgment. This is the anger that does not know how to forget and forgive. This is the anger that refuses to be pacified and it seeks revenge. People who nurse this anger for years are unhappy people. They are imprisoned by their feelings of deeply rooted resentment and hatred to others. They don’t grow spiritually. They are stuck. They have little positive energy to share because their spiritual black holes continue to drain all their life-giving energies. This kind of anger could ruin friendship, family, and community. To forgive is the only cure.
A friend of mine blurted out when he saw his long-lost enemy, “hay naku, nakakainis, nasira na naman ang araw ko.” It’s black hole at work!
If we are to follow Jesus, any kind of anger must not be part of our life. Remember, nobody can call himself a Christian and nurse anger at the same time.
I remember talking to an 88 year old man in Batangas. He told me that he has five secrets of long-life: eat vegetable, drink lots of water, wear a smile always, pray regularly, and most of all… do not keep anger in your heart by forgiving people. It makes sense.
- Fr.Willy M. Samson,SJ
March 6, 2009
March 4, 2009
Luke 11:29-32: “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but not sign
will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.”
Faith is to see things that we cannot see. But human as we are, sometimes we do need clear signs to move on because we are physical being living in a physical world. And so God, knowing us well and where we are coming from, created the universe as a concrete sign of His love and His desire to reveal Himself to us. Then he allowed Jesus, His only Son to take the human form, for us to see God in real flesh. Jesus is not just the sign of God, but God Himself. Unfortunately, our sinfulness and selfishness blind us to see these signs and the presence of God in our midst.
In our gospel today, in Jesus’ exasperation to the crowd for always demanding for signs, like performing more miracles for them; he exclaimed, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” (Luke 11:29) His frustration? The crowds’ failure to see that He himself was the LIVING SIGN. Jesus did many miracles in their midst, yet they failed to see because of their hardheadedness and unbelief. They followed Jesus everywhere because they needed his miracles, and not because they wanted him. They worshiped and followed him everywhere because he fed and healed them. But they started hating and abandoning him when he ignored their request for more miracles.
God knows and understands us well. He knows that once in a while, we need tangible signs to believe. Thus, he is always giving signs of his love for us. But these signs are so ordinary that we ignore them always: food in our table, singing birds in the morning, a flower in the garden, a faithful friend, a loving wife or husband, a good parents, a smile from a stranger, a sudden rain in the afternoon, a cool breeze in the evening and more. These signs are too obvious not to be seen by our eyes. Unfortunately these simple yet important things in our daily life are so mundane that we don’t see them anymore as signs of God’s love.
Like the crowd in our gospel today, we want more signs. The more the merrier. And like the crowd, if we cannot get the signs we are demanding (like an answered prayer), in our own cunning and little way, in a very subtle and unconscious way, we give God a cold shoulder, a frown, and silently protest against Him in different ways.
Again, there is nothing wrong in asking for signs. Prophets and holy people do ask for signs. If no “bonus signs” are given, then stop; take a deep breath, and jump in faith. It is a defining moment where God separates the “spiritual babies” from the “spiritual giants.”
In moments like this where external signs are denied from us, just open your “inner eyes”. Recall those moments in the past where God accompanied you all the way. If God did help you before, how much more now? And that’s more than enough for you to leap in faith.
Is God like an ATM Machine to you?
We love it when CASH comes out, but cursed it when it says, “OFF LINE”
- Willy M. Samson’s
March 4, 2009
March 3, 2009
Tuesday – 1st Week of Lent
Matthew 6: 7-17 “Our Father in heaven … give us today our daily bread”
“Go to school on your own. You can do it.” These were the words of my father on my first day to school away from our home. It scared me. I was only ten years old then. Riding the public jeep on my own for the first time without a companion was unimaginable. I took the challenge. But when I reached our school,
I was surprised to see that my father was already there. He smiled and said, “I was watching you all the time from another jeep and kept my eyes on you.”
Beautiful memories do lasts. I still remember those days where my father brings home Kentucky fried chicken every payday in our delight. He was indeed a good provider of all our needs. That’s my father!
Sad to say, he died six years ago after years of struggling against diabetes and stroke. I miss him a lot. I miss his fatherly care.
I am sure you have your own memories of your father’s goodness. This Lenten season, thank him if he is still alive. Unfortunately, not all fathers are good. And I pity those children who suffered a lot of pain from their fathers.
All of us are yearning for a good father. But reality bites. Not all fathers are good. Reading the gospel today, it dawned on me that Jesus wants to share His Loving Father with us. He wants us to experience His Father’s unconditional love, care and protection.
The prayer of Jesus begins with the word “Our” and not “My.” If my father protected me and provided all my needs when he was still alive, how much more of our Heavenly Father who sees and knows us well? The love of my father is just a taste or glimpse of the Heavenly Father’s constant protection and unwavering love for us.
If my father is still alive today and it's payday, I am sure he will go home with a box of Kentucky Fried Chicken to delight us and satisfy our palate. But blessed are those who earnestly pray and believe in God as their Father, God will surely protect them and satisfy their souls.
- Fr.Willy M. Samson,SJ
March 3, 2009