Legislation or Salvation?

May 25, 2008

“…This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world…”  (John 6:51)

“Manila is a dying city…”, my uncle remarked as we drove along EDSA last week. Being the retired history professor that he is, my uncle then began to enumerate different cities which have gone the way of economic death. Looking around me that night, I couldn’t help but agree with him, albeit for a different reason…

I believe Manila is dying, and so are many other cities in the world, but not just economically but moreso morally.

Crime…corruption…prostitution…materialism…addictions

It’s not that the government has not done anything about these. It has. Numerous bills have been passed in Congress yearly. Ordinances have been approved in the City councils. The executive deparment has implemented perhaps every conceivable promotional gimmick to fight them off. But despite all these, our cities continue the way of death.

Why is this so?

In the Gospel today, Jesus said:

“…This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world…”  (John 6:51)

Laws are important. Policies are key. Government campaigns are essential. But only God can bring life to a dying world.

Talk about the grieving widow…

Or the cancer patient…

Or the teenage single mother…

Or the young man hooked in drugs…

Laws can only help them so much. Policies can only take them so far. Because the source of death is within. The source of death is the heart. Empty. Hopeless. Painful. In despair.

That is why tempting it might be for me to just embrace the comfortable life somewhere else, I still choose to slug it out in this dying city. Because this is where Jesus is most needed. To heal. To restore. To bring life.

My prayer for you, friend, is for you to also experience the way of life as you receive His body in communion today. As you take him into your mouth, experience him also coming into your heart. To fill your hunger. To quench your thirts. To ease your pain. To relieve you of your worries. To bring you new life.

And life can be found, not only in legislation, but more importantly in salvation. In Jesus, the true Bread of life.

Have a blessed weekend!

I remain, your friend in Christ,

Bobby Q.

The Rival Within

May 10, 2008

“..If I want him to remain until I come, does that concern you? Follow me…” (John 21:20-25)

The rivalry of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson may be the best ever in the history of the National Basketball Association. I remember in the 80’s, how I argued endlessly with my dad as to who was the better basketball player (he was a Bird die-hard and I was a  Magic fanatic). Whenever the  Lakers met the Celtics in the Finals, it was always about those two incredibly great players.

And they knew it. In fact, they drove each other to excellence.

Bird once said that the only player he was afraid of in the clutch was Magic Johnson. Magic, on the other hand, mentioned once that he practiced very hard because he knew that somewhere Larry Bird was practicing harder.

But what is true in sports competition, isn’t true with discipleship. In the latter, your only rival is yourself. Not Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. Or St. Francis of Assisis. Not even Bro. Tony who goes to the same church as you. In discipleship, you excel not to beat another, but to beat the flesh within you.

The flesh is that part of you that seeks to rebel against God’s Lordship over your life. That part that is self-centered and ego-centric. That part that resists sacrifice and promotes indulgence.  That part that is constantly stubborn and refuses to obey. That, my friend, is your stiffest competitor towards real and genuine greatness.

That’s why when the flesh in Peter began comparing himself with John in the Gospel today, Jesus retorted by saying:

“..If I want him to remain until I come, does that concern you? Follow me…” (John 21:20-25)

Perhaps Jesus wanted Peter to realize that when it comes to discipleship, it is a totally different ballgame. You compete against yourself. You don’t get to become a saint at the expense of another. You don’t get to heaven by stepping on another. The call is personal. You alone make or break your chances at greatness in the Kingdom of God.

How often do we hear ourselves say:

“Why should I visit the sick and the prisoners, our Parish Priest doesn’t even do that.”

“It’s ok if I slander once in a while. Our community leader is worse. You should’ve heard him the other day…”

“I got drunk again last night. I was with my fellow members of the church choir who were more drunk than I was, so I guess it was fine.”

Really? Do we honestly think our salvation is dependent on others doing worse than us? Do we really believe we become a better disciple if others perform worse?

Friend, our goal is to follow God as best as we can. Regardless if others will. Even if others won’t.

Today, make a resolution to stop comparing, and start performing. And before you know it, you will find yourself on your way to sainthood.

Take it from no less than St. Peter himself.

Enjoy the weekend!

I remain, your friend in Christ,

Bobby Q.

P.S. I continue to invite you to Pentecost Power: Unleashing Anew the Spirit’s Power in Your Prayer Group, on May 21, 8AM-12AM at the Ligaya ng Panginoon Formation Center in Taguig. I will be leading this event together with prolific songwriter and worship leader Marlo Valencia. This is open to all Catholic Charismatics who would want to re-awaken the gifts of the Holy Spirit in their lives. For inquiries and reservations, you may call or text 09198267780 or email at lampstand_inspirations@yahoo.com. We don’t accept walk-ins.

Holding on to God

May 2, 2008

“…A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world…” (John 16:21)

Fourteen agonizing hours! 

My wife was in labor that long before they finally decided to do a CS operation to get our baby out. Throughout the entire ordeal, I saw her at her worst — screaming, kicking, gasping for air, in tears. 

Hours later, when Robelle, our first born, was brought to her arms by the attending physician, my wife’s tears of pain became tears of joy. This time I saw her at her best — the radiance of her smile, the glimmer in her eyes, the glow on her face. She was, I believe, at her most beautiful.

This was in November 20, 2004, the day we became parents for the first time.

I can’t help remembering that day as I read through the Gospel today. One line there says:

“…A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world…” (John 16:21)

For indeed, that was what happened to us that day. Somehow, after fourteen hours of pain and panic, came the overwhelming and unexplainable peace and joy of becoming parents to a beautiful baby girl.

Can this be said about life in general? For those who hold on to Jesus and the promises of God, I believe so, yes.

But not for all.

Because of free will, others choose to hold on to things other than God in their lifetime, and which they carry with them all the way to their graves. Some die with a beer bottle tightly clasped in their hands. Or a drug-inducing syringe. Others, it’s their earthly trophies and awards. For many, it’s their bank books. And unless the cross is triumphantly held in their other hand, many of these people will live and die in sorrow.

How about you? What challenges are you going through now in your life? Financial? Health? Death of a loved one?

Friend, I exhort you to hold on to Jesus and His promises. Never let go. Strengthen your grip of your faith. And let God come through for you.

For those who trust in Him will never be disappointed. And in time, your overwhelming sorrow will turn to indescribable joy.

I remain, in Christ,

Bobby Q.