The Fuel of Faithfulness

“…Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother’. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:27)

“Sir Bob, the boss wants you to accompany him to a meeting in the province this weekend. And he wants you to be the one to handle the official purse of the delegation.”

Those were the words of the secretary of my boss years ago, Atty. Simeon V. Marcelo, the then Ombudsman of the Republic of the Philippines.

Hearing this, I was closed to hyperventilating. A bit woozy, I perspired heavily. My collar tightened. I felt butterflies in my stomach. Why did I react that way? Well, anybody would, when honored with such a privilege.

I was really humbled by the trust my boss gave me. You see, he had all the reasons not to do what he did.

First, I was young. The last you want to do is to entrust money to a young person. He just might squander it.

Second, I was a member of a rival school fraternity. I can make my boss look bad in public by not taking care of the money he entrusted to me.

Third, I am terrible with numbers. I don’t like them and they don’t like me. So it would be extra challenge for me to keep an accounting of our expenses.

But despite all these, my boss chose to trust me. And when you are given such trust, the only thing you can do is to reward that trust by giving your best in doing your task.  

That’s what I did. And I believe that was what John the Disciple did too.

In today’s gospel, Jesus entrusted to John a very daunting task: the care of His mother.

“…Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother’. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:27)

For why else would Jesus give His most precious mother to someone unless He really trusts that person? Jesus trusted John. And John tried his best to honor Jesus’ trust by living up to his obligation.

Let us, therefore, learn from John.

Look at your hands. What has God placed there? Isn’t it the case that God has entrusted you with so much in this life? 

If you are a parent, you are entrusted by God with that child.

If you are a businessman, you are entrusted by God with that business.

If you are a teacher, you are entrusted by God with those students.

If you are a priest or pastor, you are entrusted by God with that church.

If you are a human being, you are entrusted by God with this planet.

And just like John, we ought to do our best to honor this trust.

Let us be faithful to what God has called us to do. Let His trust drive you to be the best that you can be. Let His trust inspire you to give your all. Let His trust encourage you to fulfill your task day in and day out.

Yes, let His trust fuel your faithfulness, now and until the very end!

Bobby Q.

See What You Say

“…Demonstrate your faith to me without your works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works…” (James 2:18)

“It’s hard being a preacher.” I once complained.

My complaint sprung from the very striking realization that as a preacher, I am obliged to consistenly preach what’s right even if at times I am aware that there are moments when I do what’s wrong.

For instance, I needed to preach patience even if I know that sometimes I am impatient.

I needed to preach commitment even if I know that sometimes I am not committed.

I needed to preach faith even if I know that at times I don’t have much of it myself.

Honestly, sometimes, it is difficult to stand in front of a crowd even if deep within you, you know that you are preaching to yourself.

That’s probably why today’s reading struck a chord in my heart. In the letter of James, he said:

“…Demonstrate your faith to me without your works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works…” (James 2:18)

This serves as an upward call to preachers like me. Words are to us what tools are to a mechanic. The stage is to us what the field is to a football player. The microphone is to us what the hammer is to a carpenter. 

But the major difference is this.

Once the mechanic finishes fixing a car, he stops being a mechanic.

Once the buzzer sounds, a football player can walk out of the field, dress down and cease from being a ball player.

Once the building is built, the carpenter stores away his hammer and pause from being a carpenter (at least until after the next project!).

But preachers cannot do that. You see, our preaching does not end when we go down from the stage. In fact, it will only begin to have meaning when we do. Our words are amplified by our works. In other words, the volume of our voice is only as loud as our lives. Hence the challenge to “Walk your talk”. When the talking ends, the walking begins. And the latter is more difficult than the former. As the reading says, our constant challenge is how to demonstrate our faith through our works.

Today, I pray for the special grace to walk my talk. And I pray for you, too. That as you strive to live a good life, people may then see what you say in your life.

A blessed weekend to you!

Bobby Q.

The “Yes” that Made All the Difference

“…She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins… (Matthew 1:21)

Many people question why Catholics honor Mary. Why make the big fuss about her? Any jewish girl could have been the mother of the messiah. It just so happens that God chose her from among the ladies at that time. There was really nothing she did to merit such adulation and adoration from millions of Catholics all over the world. Hence, we should not really honor her that much, right?

No. 

Let me share with you my opinion by using an analogy.

Imagine this…

You are waiting for a taxi cab in the middle of the storm. “No cab driver would take me in with this kind of weather.”, you thought to yourself. And true enough, not a single driver cared to even stop for you. Minutes passed. You are hungry and tired. Not to mention the the fact that you are soaking wet. The minutes turned to hours. You are desperate. You gaze at your watch. It’s getting really late. Just as you were about to give up, a cab pulls up in front of you. The driver of the cab motions for you to get in, “Hop in,” he says “I will take you home.”

Now, do you think you would be grateful to that one cab driver? After he brings you home, would you have the guts to say to him “Well, thanks but no thanks. Other cab drivers could have brought me home, anyway. You just happen to be the one who answered my call.” Of course not. Instead, you would be grateful. And you will find ways to show your gratitude, right? 

You might give him a big tip. Or even perhaps offer him dinner. Or for the more generous among us, give him our calling card just in case he might need our future services.

True, other cab drivers could have said “yes”. But it doesn’t change the fact that this one cab driver did. Moreover, the fact that others could have given you a ride doesn’t lessen the impact of what this one cab driver did.

Same thing with Mary.

Other ladies her age could have said “yes” to angel Gabriel during those days. And others may have been ready and willing to become the mother of the messiah. But such possibility does not change the fact that Mary was the one who said “yes”. It does not, in any way, lessen the impact of what she did.

Just like that cab driver in my analogy who gave you the vehicle home, Mary also gave us our vehicle home to heaven. The cab driver gave you a ride. Mary gave us a savior.  

Whether we admit or not, Mary’s “yes” paved the way for our salvation. It made all the difference for all of us!

Thank you for your “yes”, dear Mother.

Thank you, for pulling us out from the cold and giving us a free ride home!

I remain grateful,

Bobby

An Open Letter to Simon Peter

“…Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’…” (Luke 5:5)

Dear Peter,

I am writing to you to ask you a very important question, a question which pre-occupied my mind most of this day. Here it goes:

What made you do it?

You know what I mean. You were very tired that day, remember? “Weary” might be a more apt word. It was a long night. Your feet were aching. Your eyes were heavy. Your spirit was just about to give up. You gave it your best shot. You gave it your all. But the fish, for some reason, were somewhere else that night. They probably knew you were coming for them, and they decided to give you a really hard time. That’s why I was wondering what made you do what you did.

Why did you have to take orders from a carpenter? You knew the seas better than him. You were a fisherman for crying out loud! Your feet were wet a good portion of your life. So why did you obey? Why did you follow? Was it his charisma? Was it his eloquence? Or his charm?

Or maybe it wasn’t about him. Maybe it was about you? They said you were desperate to make a catch that day. And anybody who was desperate was sure to grab any chance he might get, no matter how slim that chance was.

I can identify well with you today. Just like you then, I had been tired today. Wearied. A bit burdened. A little anxious. That was probably why your response to Jesus’ command in today’s Gospel got me really thinking. When Jesus asked you to “put out into the deep” to fish again, your response was a classic:

“…Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’…” (Luke 5:5)

I still don’t know what made you do what you did. The bible is silent as to your reason. But I admit, it does give a clue. Despite your tiredness and fatigue, you gathered your men and your nets to put out into the deep and fish again that night.

Why?

 Simply because Jesus said so. Period. Simple. End of story.

I take inspiration from this. And so will many readers of this blog.

When we have no more reason to go on. Or persevere. Or hang on. Or remain. We will. Simply because God says so. And that would be enough for us.

We will remain in that ministry.

We will stay in that church.

We will hang on to that marriage.

We will persevere in that job.

We will keep on fighting that disease.

Just like you, we will be honest enough to tell the Lord our weariness. But just like you, we will be faithful enough to obey just because God says so.

No other reasons are necessary. No other reasons are required.

God’s Word is and should always be enough for us.

I remain,

Bobby

The Need to Rest

“…At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place…”( Luke 4: 42)

Bro. Mon Samson, the dynamic National Director of Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon used to kid me, “Bro, mas busy ka pa kay Jesus ah…” (“Bro, you’re busier than Jesus…”).

Funny, but sometimes, I think he is right.

Let me run down for you all my present commitments:

I am a covenanted member of Ligaya ng Panginoon. I am its head for evangelization and a district head in training. I am a regional director of Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon. I am the small group leader of some of the leaders of our youth movement. I am a trustee of the Word of Joy Foundation. I am Chief Executive Officer of my own company Lampstand Inspirations, Co.. I am a consultant of several Charismatic communities. I am part of an emerging “soft-evangelization” ministry. I am a regular author of inspirational books. I am a legal ethics lecturer. I am a university legal counsel of the University of the Philippines. I am Of Counsel of a law firm with a growing number of clients. On top of all these, I am a husband, a father, a son, and a brother.

Now, I know Jesus was a lot busier than me. (He was trying to save the world, right?) But here’s the difference, Jesus knew when and how to slow down.

I don’t.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus INTENTIONALLY withdrew from His crowd to rest:

“…At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place…”( Luke 4: 42).

Slowing down is important not just for physical rehabilitation. More importantly, it is also very good for the mind and the soul.

It gives you perspective. To see what is important in life. To be reminded of what truly matters.

It gives you focus. To zoom in only on those things which help you reach your most noble dreams and aspirations.

It gives you bearing. To stabilize in the midst of tension. To remain firm in the midst of pressure.

It gives you peace. To know what you can and cannot change, and be contented with this knowledge.

Dear reader, if you are the workaholic type, the type who feels guilty when he/she rests, I encourage you to find time to slow down this week. Rest is a weapon. You emerge from it stronger and better.

Just like Jesus, you need rest in order to change your world.

I remain restful,

Bobby Q.