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Homilies, Talks, Messages, Pastoral Letters, etc.
Holy Spirit, Renew our land and people (Pentecost Sunday)

As the Catholic faithful were wrapping up the celebration of the Year of Faith last year (to close on November 24, 2013, Solemnity of Christ the King), the Philippines was visited by a series of disasters, natural and man-made: the siege in Zamboanga City, the earthquake in Bohol, and super-typhoon Yolanda that devastated Western and Central Visayas, especially the provinces of Samar and Leyte. Such devastations would certainly shake sturdy hearts and test one’s faith. When the editor chose the theme “Faith: Source of Consolation and Strength amid Suffering” for the Homily Guides long before the actual events, he would have had no inkling that it would find actualization in the experience of our nation. The theme comes from the encyclical letter of Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei (n. 56), the first draft of which came from Pope Benedict XVI.

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Faith: Source of consolation and strength amid suffering (6th Sunday of Easter)

Introduction

In spite of the sufferings we endure as a people, it is said that Filipinos remain strong and hopeful.

I remember celebrating a funeral Mass for a parishioner. Of course the relatives were all gloomy and some were in tears. However, when, after the blessing, someone shouted: “picture! picture!” I saw how everybody posed for the camera and with smiling faces, in spite of the teary eyes and crying faces, and had their photo taken.

Moreover, photos taken during disasters and calamities show the Filipinos even smiling as if they were simply having a picnic.

Even our cry of lamentation: “Nasaan ang Diyos habang ako ay nagdurusa?” is not the same as the atheistic proclamation of non-existence of the Divine, but actually a cry of longing for God’s presence.

In the depths of the heart of the Pinoy Catholic what we really meant in our lamentation is: “Panginoon, nais kong maramdaman at maranasan ang iyong presensiya sa aking pagdurusa!”

In the midst of our trials and pains, the Pinoy Catholic triumphs through a steadfast faith implanted in one’s heart: “God is with me, helping me!”

What is our source of strength?

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Holy Spirit: Our consolation and joy (6th Sunday of Easter)

The second half of the year 2013 in our country was marked by a series of natural calamities that left thousands of people dead and billions of pesos worth of property destroyed. Strong typhoons and an earthquake painfully put the faith of the Filipinos to the test. Suffering, gloom and despair seemed to reign in the hearts of our people in the midst of the destruction wrought by these disasters.

In these darkest hours of our lives, we long for light, love and life. We look for an icon of inspiration and a message of hope so that we may be comforted in our distress and rise up from our fall. We yearn for consolation to strengthen us and rekindle our passion for life.

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"If we cannot be transformed, We will settle for being informed or conformed" - John Ortberg (6th Sunday of Easter)

Introduction

Urs Banerter writes of an old Frenchman who liked to tell the following story: “When I was 14 years old, I used to sit on a bench near the church on free afternoons. Once I watched a blackbird sitting in an elderberry bush and eating the ripe berries.  When it had enough, it flew off to the nearby cemetery wall and cleaned the seeds off its beak by rubbing it on the stones.

‘When I was 40, I visited the church and took a look at that old cemetery wall.  What did I find but an elderberry bush growing out of the aging mortar between the stones of the wall.  Its roots had split the wall wide open so wide that I could put my hand into the gap.

‘With a piece of mortar that had split away, I wrote alongside the split in the wall: The work of a blackbird.”

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The risen Lord truly listens (3rd Sunday of Easter)

The memories of the Year of Faith last year must be still fresh in our minds, like the Catechesis on the different articles of our Faith, the challenges of the New Evangelization that lead us to renewed fervor, new methods and new expressions. And we know that there are elements of our faith that remain constant. These we would like to reflect on in the light of this Sunday’s Gospel--The two disciples on their way to Emmaus.

The Year of Faith was ushered by the Apostolic Letter, Porta Fidei of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. It was also the occasion of the publication of the Papal Encyclical on Faith, Lumen Fidei of Pope Francis (with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI). In the beginning of Porta Fidei, we were made aware of the sharing of St. Paul at the end of his first missionary journey with the faithful at Antioch- “How God opened the door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 14:27). In our faith, the initiative comes from God. The first action is from God. Ours is allowing the Spirit of God to touch our heart and to enlighten our mind. And, in Lumen Fidei, we were made to realize how faith is a light that enables us to see what normally we do not see, to hear and feel what we normally do not. We have the expressions like: believe and you will see; believe and you will understand. These two elements of God’s initiative and the light of faith that empowers us to see, hear and feel more than the ordinary are clearly demonstrated in today’s Gospel.

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