Monday, April 28, 2008

Double Adventure: Zipline at Camp Sabros & Trek to Tudaya Falls

April 27, 2008

I did not expect it would push through. But after planning it with my two nieces and friends, plus in coordination with a generous family in Kapatagan -- the Osorio family -- we hopped in to an hour ride going to Digos on a Metro bus one hot Saturday afternoon.

Upon arrival, we didn't know where to take the van going to Kapatagan. Thanks to generous people around, we were told to take a tricycle ride going to the old terminal where later we discovered that the father of the Osorio family who owns one van, was already waiting for us. It was raining then.Another hour of waiting for the van to be filled up seemed an eternity. But we managed to keep the spirit alive with some jokes and humorous stories inside the van. The camera did a lot of work.

Finally, our drooping spirit was revived upon contemplating the verdant and lush vegetation, plus the scenic spots going up the hills of Kapatagan. Most of us wonder where the name came. We can hardly see "patag" around.An hour ascend and that brought us to a total of three hours of travel to the much desired place of the second longest zipline in the Philippines (according to the research of our "not-so-excited" companion). But we had to settle in the house of our friend, Bong, because the day was over. Most of us suffered from "itchy feet" and wanted to trek the dark paths going to the parish church where we paid an unexpected visit to the parish priest.

The drizzle had stopped, replaced by strong downfall. (In Visayan: "Mohunong ra nang taligsik kung mag-ulan.") But thank God we were already enjoying the native chicken soup courtesy of Bong's mother. The viand that night was of three kinds -- chicken soup, fried chicken & chicken adobo. Yet the majority never paid much attention to it. After all, not all had taken lunch (like Aries, Jason and Junel). Another bonding session over bottles of RH (just to warm our bodies), plus some acoustics (from our lead guitar, Aries) and smoke sticks, and soon we were driven by lethargy into deep sleep, taking refuge in thick blankets amidst the freezing cold of the night. (Well, this next photo does not picture what I mean...)We had to wake up early for the 6:30 am mass since it was Sunday, a day of obligation. During the 6:30 am mass, I was tasked to give the homily. Two of my friends came in the middle of it. Well, perhaps due to the cold weather...

After the mass, we were entertained by the great sight before us: the majestic Mt. Apo. Then, after contemplating the beauty of the enchanted mountain, seen from the terrace of the parish residence, we proceeded to what excited every nerve left unfrozen in us.

Breakfast was quick, we didn't know why. Was it because of the "batikulon" that one of us dreaded most to eat? But the ride on a 4-wheel drive multicab was not that quick. We got stranded in the middle of the muddy and sloppy road, that most of us preferred to walk rather than to dive into the mud! (This photo was taken two seconds after Jason's dive...)After the fall, what should be done? Be sad? Lament about it all your life? After one unintentional mistake, what to do? Forever lamenting something you don't even intend? Of course not! Get up and DANCE TO THE MUSIC, yeah! That's what they're doing...joining Bro in dancing with life. For after all, life must go the zipline...
Uncle Father and nieces, BonBon and ChaCha...enjoying each other's company. What an opportunity for bonding!
You think we're in Baguio? We're on the way up there...we opted going there on foot coz the 4WD got stranded somewhere down there...
You can't notice the tiredness, only the excitement. And the camera can't wait.
Well, we enjoyed taking photos along the way, anyway. Then, suddenly there appeared before us the signboard that says "Welcome to Camp Sabros".

After paying the tickets, we waited patiently for our turn. We've learned that "patience is indeed a virtue". I guess, a few minutes ride on a 380m zipline or the 400m one is worth the two-hour wait! Don't you think so? Well, let our photos tell you the rest of the story.

The Adventure continues . . .

Tudaya Falls Adventure

SOMEONE FALLS AT TUDAYA FALLS. It was Junel who said: "to go to Tudaya falls is to die". Exaggerated, I know. But for the first timers in steep descent and ascent, it could be true...metaphorically speaking. For literally, one may just suffer from sudden falls...just like Aries, who in this photo just got up from the Fall.But we have to be thankful to Aries. Because of him, we were able to learn the lesson in mountain trekking: you have to take it seriously, especially the slopes and the slippery. Well, Bong seemed to be used to it (though it was his first time to come to Tudaya falls). Jason was just observing as Cha-Cha danced her "cha-cha" way down all the way.
That's my boy! Not even how many falls could dampen his energetic spirit. He stood up and proudly faced the camera with a renewed smile. Don't touch me, BonBon said, reminding Aries of his soiled hands, courtesy of the Fall. Well, everybody had fun, and that's what is important.
I don't know why. But every time the group passed by some boulders of rocks, we felt the urge to take photos. I know it sounds strange but we didn't have time to decipher how it sounds. The flash of the camera seemed to banish the lethargy and to bring us back our draining energy.
Everybody smiled and screamed for joy as suddenly the falls appeared before us. It has successfully kept us in suspense as we only heard the noise it produces. Now, it's there, said Bro and Junel. But for BonBon and Aries, the camera is more important.

They say, "you'll forget the pain once you get the price". All the troubles along the way seemed insignificant as soon as we contemplate the beauty of nature: the Tudaya falls. Have you seen that look in Aries' eyes? That says it all!"Hurry up, Bro," Aries seemed to say. "I can't wait to relish it!" Let's see what we can do with this gigantic falls. One can only enjoy its peripheries.
Well, Junel seems to be enjoying it so much. He's quite playing it as if he wasn't aware of the camera. Atik na, nel. Kumita na yan!
You see, even from here you can get drenched.
Going up takes less time than going down. This was the group's sentiment. And it was quite true. Of course, the secret of staying alive and kicking is the camera flash. SMIIILE!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Forbidden Kingdom: the movie


While hunting down bootleg kung-fu DVDs in a Chinatown pawnshop, Jason makes an extraordinary discovery that sends him hurtling back in time to ancient China. There, Jason is charged with a monumental task: he must free the fabled warrior the Monkey King, who has been imprisoned by the evil Jade Warlord. Jason is joined
in his quest by wise kung fu master Lu Yan and a band of misfit warriors including Silent Monk. But only by learning the true precepts of kung fu can Jason hope to succeed - and find a way to get back home.

Jesus values friendship

Have you ever wondered why Jesus would always take three of His Apostles along with Him to some important events during His public ministry?

In the Transfiguration, Matthew noted that "after six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light" (Mt 17: 1-9).

In raising the daughter of Jairus, Luke has this account: "When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child's father and mother (Lk 8:51).

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Matthew again tells us: "Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee (James, John ) along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me" (Mt 26:36).

Among His 12 Apostles, Jesus has three circle of friends with whom He shared moments of glory (Transfiguration), of sorrow (Gethsemane) and of joy (important miracles): PETER, JAMES & JOHN.

Besides, among the three "best friends", Jesus has a special friend, whom the Evangelist John called "the Beloved Disciple" or "the disciple that Jesus loved". In fact, in John's account of the Last Supper, the Evangelist made mention of the Beloved Disciple "reclining on Jesus' bosom".

"There was reclining on Jesus' bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. So Simon Peter gestured to him, and said to him, "Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking." He, leaning back thus on Jesus' bosom, said to Him, "Lord, who is it?" (John 13:23-25). (See photo above).

What does it tell us?

It's telling us that friendship forms an essential part in the life of Jesus. Being truly human and being like us in all things except sin, Jesus must have also enjoyed the friendship of His disciples.

"No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you" (Jn 15:15).

It also means that in following the Lord friendship is an essential element. Discipleship is nothing else but "being friends with Jesus". And for those who are following the Lord in the priesthood, friendship also plays an important role as it is an essential element of the priestly ministry.

Making friends with co-seminarians and formators is an essential element of seminary formation, just as Jesus (The Ultimate Formator) was a friend to all His disciples and the disciples (the formandi) were friends among themselves.

Jesus also sees in friendship an opportunity to do apostolate. When He brought His circle of friends to witness some important events in His life, He was not just trying to appear "agreeable" and "likable" to them (like one who invites his newly-found barkadas out to drinks, coffee, movies, dinner, KTV, etc. so they would admire him or think bad of him by misinterpreting his gestures...).

No. Jesus was trying to teach them make them know and understand Him, His message, His way of thinking. A kind of bonding, yes it was. But with a purpose: to make them think, talk and do things the way He does -- TO HELP THEM BECOME CHRIST-LIKE, for that is what it means to be His disciple. In a sense, it was part of their formation.

Of course, at first, they often did not understand Him. They mistook Him, His words, His gestures. Only after He was raised from the dead did they understand Him well. And the CIRCLE OF FRIENDS had contributed a lot to the whole group's understanding of WHO JESUS REALLY WAS, and of what He was really trying to teach them.

We can say, it was Jesus' strategy of forming His disciples. We can also say, it was His natural way of dealing with them as their formator -- Jesus, being truly human Himself.

For one who has been given the task of forming souls, nothing is wrong, I guess, with following the style of Jesus. Of course, not in an exaggerated way.

But just a piece of advice: IF YOU WISH TO FOLLOW JESUS' STYLE, BE SURE TO HAVE FIRST, JESUS' HEART. For the heart of Jesus treasures so much the value of friendship. And only through, with and in the heart of Jesus, true friendship can flourish.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Here are some spiritual food from San Josemaria Escriva, taken from his famous book, The Way (nn 258-264). For those interested, who are at the same boat as I am. Hope you get spiritual benefits from these:

Get rid of those scruples that deprive you of peace. What robs you of your peace of soul cannot come from God.

When God comes to you, you will realize the truth of those greetings: My peace I give to you...My peace I leave with you... My peace be with you... And this peace you will feel even in the midst of tribulation.

Still those scruples!
Talk simply and clearly with your director. Obey...and don't belittle the most loving heart of Our Lord.

Sadness, depression. I'm not surprised: it's the cloud of dust raised by your fall. But...enough of it! Can't you see that the cloud has been borne far away by the breath of grace?

Moreover, your sadness -- if you don't reject it -- could very well be the cloak of your pride. Did you really think yourself perfect and sinless?

I forbid you to think any more about it. Instead, bless God, who has given life back to your soul.

Don't think any more about your fall. Besides overwhelming and crushing you under its weight, that recollection may easily be an occasion of future temptation.

Christ has forgiven you! Forget the "old man" -- your former self.

Don't be disheartened. I have seen you struggle. Today's defeat is training for your final victory.

You've done well, even though you have fallen so low. You've done well, because you humbled yourself, because you straightened yourself out, because you filled yourself with hope -- and that hope brought you back again to His Love.

Don't look so amazed: you've done well! You rose up from the ground. Surge -- "Arise" -- cried anew the mighty voice -- et ambula -- "and walk!" Now--to work.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Bible: a beautiful story that could touch your heart

A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer's showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted. As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car.

Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautiful wrapped gift box. Curious, but somewhat Disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with the young man's name embossed in gold.

Angrily, he raised his voice to his father and said, "With all your money you give me a Bible?", and stormed out of the house, leaving the Bible.

Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but realized his father was very old, and thought perhaps he should go to him. He had not seen him since that graduation day. Before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things.

When he arrived at his father's house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search through his father's important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. His father had carefully underlined a verse,

Matt 7:11: "And if ye, being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly father which is in heaven, give to those who ask Him?"

As he read those words, a car key dropped from the back of the Bible. It had a tag with the dealer's name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words...PAID IN FULL.

How many times do we miss God's blessings because they are not packaged as we expected? I trust you enjoyed this. Pass it on to others. Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for...


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Life is what you make of it; how you see it...


Don't talk yourself into more trouble than you need.

* * *

Depression is when you are "sadder than sad."

* * *

No matter what happens you can always make matters worse.

Understanding Depression

Improving your Thinking and Mood

"Create your own reality."

How you think is important.

Let’s focus on the role of thinking in depression. No matter what the other causes of depression may contribute, thinking always plays some role and can always make matters worse.

  • If you are depressed because of a biochemical imbalance you will still be thinking about your life experiences.
  • If you have too much stress you will certainly think about the stressful events.
  • If you learned to be depressed then your usual pattern of thinking will maintain it.

Thinking is always occurring, and therefore plays a fundamental role in creating not only depression ,but all of our other emotions as well.

Understanding how our thinking creates our moods and behavior is an area of cognitive psychology. Trying to improve our thinking to improve our moods and behavior is cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy provides a good model for self-help.

Cognitive Therapy: Rational Emotive Therapy (RET)

One of the easiest cognitive therapy approaches to understand is that of Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) as developed by Albert Ellis.

Rational Emotive Therapy tells us about the ABC’s of emotional life. It is practical and easy to apply.

  • "A" stands for "Actual Event" and represents what happens to you in life.
  • "B" stands for a "Belief" about what happened.
  • "C" stand for the "Consequence" of the event on mood and behavior.

In life it appears to us that events happen and that the events cause our moods and behavior. It appears that A (an event) causes C (a consequence). So, if a friend breaks your trust you may be hurt and depressed. You may later tell someone that your friend has ruined your life and has made you miserable.

However, in order to be hurt and depressed you have to have a belief about what happened. You must be thinking in a certain way. It is your belief or thinking that is creating your reaction. You might be thinking, "It is horrible. It is terrible. I have been betrayed. I’ll never trust again."




Actual Event



Broken Trust

It is horrible and terrible.

Hurt and Depressed

It is your belief that is creating the consequence. Change the belief and the result will change. What else could you be telling yourself? What might be a more realistic assessment of the event?

You could be thinking, "This is tough and I don’t like it but I am glad that I found out now rather than later. I made a mistake, but I can learn from it. I can get through it." You reaction might be one of hurt and disappointment which is a more realistic response. You would not fall into a state of depression and misery.




Actual Event



Broken Trust

It is tough but at least I found out now. I can get through it.

Hurt and disappointed

Changing your belief changes the result.

Your belief will show up in the inner dialogue that you have with yourself. It is in the "Voice of Conscience" that talks to you about life.

This is the "Voice" that often speaks up when you look in the mirror or get on the scales. It can talk you into a lot of trouble. Learn to pay attention to this inner voice and be sure that it is realistic. Don’t fall into a negative pattern of worry or self-criticism which can only make matters worse. Realistic thinking will lead to realistic consequences over which you have a sense of control.

When you do find a negative belief then you must challenge it. You do this with steps D and E of the ABC model.










New Effect

Broken Trust

It is horrible and terrible. I will never get over it.

Hurt and depressed, and feeling helpless.

It is tough but I found out now. I can get through it.

Hurt and disappointed, but still in control

"D" stand for dispute. Dispute means that once you have identified a negative or irrational belief you challenge it. You dispute it. You create a more realistic view and a more supportive inner dialogue.

A new dialogue leads to "E" which stands for "Effect" – a new effect. The result of a different belief is a different response. The same event now leads to different emotions and behaviors. With a new dialogue you regain control of your life.

Remember the ABC’s of emotional life. Always evaluate your "self-talk" and don’t talk yourself into more trouble than you need. Remembering your ABC’s will help you to make life go better.

Resource for Cognitive Therapy

Albert Ellis Institute
Home page for the originator of Rational Emotive Therapy


During the Last Supper, the Apostles were dejected as they learned that Jesus would not be with them -- in His physical presence -- very shortly. Detachment could cause them a lot of pain.

One of the things that I find difficult in life is detachment: from people, from things, from events. It is a by-product of giving your all, your best, to whatever endeavor is given to you. In the end, you get attached and when time comes that you have to move on and leave whatever you have accomplished behind, the process of detachment is costly -- emotionally and psychologically.

But life must go on! We are not meant to "build three tents" in this world. We are just here to sow seeds. And after we have done so, we let go and we let God do the rest of the work.


"Lord, help me to let go of people who have become part of me, of things that have become my comfort and convenience, of events that have become my joy. Help me to let you, my God, take the lead in this journey called 'life' towards the place where there's no need to let go anymore; for there, what is left is to let God. AMEN."

Why worry?

"Do not let your hearts be troubled; have faith in God and have faith in me," Jesus said.

I said, "Jesus, I trust in You."

But why do worries persist? No guilt; just worries... and nervousness... and shame... and pity...

Oh, how I wish I could bring back time and undo some things...

But Jesus reminded me: "Is there anyone, who, by worrying, could change the color of his hair? Am I not capable of doing miracles? Can I not touch hearts and change them without infringing freewill?"

"Lord, you know everything. Teach me to trust in you."

Only true friendship can heal this malady!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Thoughts to Ponder Today

Sometimes the Lord blurs our vision of the good things we have done with a single failure that we don't even intend to do, in order to keep our feet on the ground.

I always teach my students that God can write straight with crooked lines. And that from whatever mistake (and even sin) that we have done, God can draw something good. Yet, sometimes it really takes one concrete experience for teachers to learn -- and relearn -- their lessons.

"Whatever happens, happens for a reason", as a famous saying goes. And it is a challenge for everyone to discover what that reason may be. But for sure, it must be something for the good of those persons involved. As St. Paul said: "Everything works for the good of those who love the Lord."

Now, here are thoughts that could really make one ponder:

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest person with the biggest ideas can be
shot down by the smallest person with the smallest mind.
Think big anyway.

What you spend years building may
be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack if you help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have
and you might get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

In one's fight, hundreds of victories may be outnumbered by one single failure.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Interior struggle

An excerpt from San Josemaria Escriva's homily, April 4, 1971, Palm Sunday

"I know that the moment we talk about fighting we recall our weakness and we foresee falls and mistakes. God takes this into account. As we walk along it is inevitable that we will raise dust; we are creatures and full of defects. I would almost say that we will always need defects. They are the shadow which shows up the light of God's grace and our resolve to respond to God's kindness. And this chiaroscuro will make us human, humble, understanding and generous.

"Let's not deceive ourselves: in our life we will find vigor and victory and depression and defeat. This has always been true of the earthly piligrimage of Christians, even of those we venerate on the altars. Don't you remember Peter, Augustine, Francis? I have never liked biographies of saints which naively -- but also with a lack of sound doctrine -- present their deeds as if they had been confirmed in grace from birth. No. The true life stories of Christian heroes resemble our own experience: they fougth and won; they fought and lost. And then, repentant, they returned to the fray.

"We should not be surprised to find ourselves defeated relatively often, usually or even always in things of little importance which we tend to take seriously. If we love God and are humble, if we persevere relentlessly in our struggle, the defeats will never be very important. There will also be abundant victories which bring joy to God's eyes. There is no such thing as failure if you act with right intention, wanting to fulfill God's will and counting always on his grace and your own nothingness."

(For the whole text of the homily, please see "Christ is passing by" on pages 167-192.

Why afraid of LDPC?


Published in Davao Catholic HERALD

April 20, 2008

When the Local Development Plan for Children (LDPC) was approved through a voting of 18-4-2 (YES, NO, abstained, respectively), the immediate reaction of almost every Catholic faithful present in the gallery of the Davao City Council session hall – especially those who understand deeply the implication of the said approval – was of utter fear and disturbance.
Despite the efforts of the main proponent of the plan, Councilor Angela Librado-Trinidad assuring the Council that the plan does not promote contraception, every well-informed Catholic is aware that the plan is tainted with “contraceptive flavor” (borrowing the words of Councilor Tessie Mata-Marañon, who strongly opposes the plan).
Councilor Peter Laviña, one who voted NO, said the LDPC “appears innocent at first glance.” However, “a large portion of it deals with reproductive health issues continuously opposed by pro-lifers, family crusaders and the Catholic Church.”
Why afraid of LDPC? The fact that it is under the guise of “reproductive health” and “safe pregnancy” is one good reason to be afraid. But a bigger reason is that our Honorable Councilors are aware of it and they just closed their eyes and raised their hands to say YES to it!

* * *

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God; have faith also in me.”
Jesus’ words in this Sunday’s Gospel were my sole consolation as I walked out the session hall gnawing my tongue in disappointment. My irritation was fueled by the thought that some councilors whom I have voted last elections – to the best of their acting abilities – even made themselves appear to be against the plan. In the end, they were the first and the last to raise their hands.
What is there to be afraid of LDPC? Archbishop Capalla said it denigrates the virtue of chastity. I think he has a point. For even its proponent affirmed during the session: “We did not touch the issue on chastity (during the formulation of the principles), as it may not be sensitive to everybody.”
Well, to have a city councilor who is the head of the committee on women and children to say that is one big reason enough to “let our hearts be troubled”. I, for one, am disturbed by the idea that the issue on chastity “may not be sensitive to everybody”. To whom should this issue be sensitive? To the Church alone? To the parents alone?
The issue on chastity and how this virtue should be taught to our young is everybody’s concern. If the LDPC has to be integral and authentic, it has to consider teaching our children and youth the said virtue. Chastity-based education is what our children need, rather than education on the use of contraceptives.

* * *

“Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Thomas asked Jesus.
How can we know the way towards the authentic and integral development of our children in Davao City? I don’t think this was the prevailing spirit last Tuesday in the session hall.
True. Councilor Mahipus had raised concern about the second Pastoral Statement of Archbishop Capalla but only to let Councilor Librado-Trinidad answer each of the five objections of the archbishop in a literal manner, by saying that “the objections are nowhere to be found explicitly in the plan”.
But then, when Councilor Marañon wished to present as an amendment the separation or the rejection of the “contraceptive flavor” from the plan, almost everyone was groping for a way out. And the house rules are the most convenient way.

* * *

Jesus answered: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
Jesus offers us “the Way, the Truth and the Life”. Yet, instead of admitting to ourselves that “we do not know the way; how can we know the way?” we look for our own way, we create our own truth and we make a living out of it.
The way to real and authentic children development is when they are taught the truth about themselves. For only in that truth can they live a life to the full.
But how could we educate these children on the truth about themselves if by giving them “full access to affordable services and accurate information that will promote safe pregnancies and produce and nurture healthy babies” (LDPC, Chap 2, sec. b), we are actually reinforcing in them the fallacy that their sexual urges cannot be controlled.
In giving them “full access to affordable services and accurate information” regarding contraceptives, we are actually telling our children that you cannot control yourselves; hence, use condoms and pills. And still we ask: Why afraid of LDPC?
Well, in the end, there’s nothing to be afraid of LDPC. For as the Good Book says, “People may plan all kinds of things but the Lord’s will is going to be done” (Proverbs 19:21).

The Good Shepherd and LDPC


Published in Davao Catholic HERALD

April 13, 2008

One astonishing reality that exists in the seminary among seminarians is what we dubbed as sub-culture. In the Pre-College, for instance, where I am assigned for two years now, just a simple mention of the word kambing and pechay by the formator, every seminarian understands that he is reminding them to take care of their vocation (pechay) against anything that would endanger it (kambing).

Thanks to the power of metaphorical language like parables and analogies, everyone could get the message immediately without resorting to explicit explanations.

As I was reflecting on the Gospel this Sunday, I was astonished by what St. John noticed: “Although Jesus used this figure of speech, they did not realize what he was trying to tell them.”

I am quite sure that the Pharisees, who were supposed to be well-versed of the Scriptures, knew that the Parable of the Shepherd has a rich tradition from the Old Testament. Yahweh is the shepherd of the people (Cfr. Gen 49:24; Psalm 23).

Using this figure of speech, Jesus was telling them: I am the Good Shepherd. Still, they couldn’t recognize the voice of the shepherd. Simply because they do not belong to the sheepfold. If they don’t belong, it’s not that they can’t; it’s just that they won’t. And that’s quite different!

* * *

Some biblical scholars find two separate parables in verses 1-5. “Whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.” (vv. 1-3a)

Some leaders enter into the lives of people by force and/or even deceit. These are the ones that push their own agenda on the people without consulting their constituents first. They enter the sheepfold elsewhere driven by the force of their selfish interest.

How we pray that our Honorable City Councilors would show greater authentic leadership as they tackle this week the Local Development Plan for Children legislation! How we pray that they would “enter through the gate” of the people’s interest and be sensitive to the voice of the Davaoeños and the local Church, the People of God!

A Bulgarian Proverb says: “If you cannot serve, you cannot rule.” If the LDPC cannot serve the good of our children, it cannot rule!

* * *

“The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.”

Jesus is the Good Shepherd because He leads by entering first into our lives, making Himself like us, becoming one of us in every aspect except sin. I said except sin because sin has never been an essential part of our being. It was just accidental; an accessory to misused freedom.

Freedom is misused when it does not recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd. The power that determines man from within to tend towards the attainment of the good becomes self-destructive when it fails to recognize the voice of the One “who calls his own sheep by name”.

* * *

And freedom fails to recognize that voice when it listens to its own voice. When freedom fails to recognize the voice of the Truth and instead, fashions its own “truth”, it becomes self-destructive.

Many people today would say that freedom and truth are wholly separable, since anyone is free to affirm the truth and abide by it, to ignore the truth, or even to deny it and act against it. If freedom were bound by the truth, they ask, how could it be freedom?

In his first encyclical Redemptor Hominis (1979), John Paul II quoted the words of Christ, "You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." He added: "These words contain both a fundamental requirement and a warning: the requirement of an honest relationship with regard to truth as a condition for authentic freedom, and the warning to avoid every kind of illusory freedom, every superficial unilateral freedom, every freedom that fails to enter into the whole truth about man and the world."

* * *

I THINK the LDPC fails to recognize the voice of the truth, the truth about the “proper moral orientation in the psycho-sexual and emotional growth and education of children” (Archbishop Capalla’s Pastoral Statement). To approve it without first discerning carefully the voice of the Good Shepherd could be very self-destructive!

Mane nobiscum, Domine


Published in Davao Catholic HERALD

April 6, 2008

The late Pope John Paul II’s last Apostolic Exhortation written a few months before his death on April 2, 2005, bears this title. It is taken from this Sunday’s Gospel reading in which the disciples on the road to Emmaus urged Jesus, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening…”

The pope: “Amid our questions and difficulties, and even our bitter disappointments, the Divine Wayfarer continues to walk at our side, opening to us the Scriptures and leading us to a deeper understanding of the mysteries of God. When we meet him fully, we will pass from the light of the Word to the light streaming from the “Bread of life”, the supreme fulfillment of his promise to “be with us always, to the end of the age” (cf. Mt 28:20)” (MND, 2).

Amidst life’s questions and difficulties, “and even our bitter disappointments”, do we frequently turn to Jesus “to walk at our side”? Or do we cling to our own narrow perspectives of things and try to find the way out on our own?

* * *

“As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him” (Lk. 24:15-16).

Oftentimes, our confusions and petty worries in life prevent us from recognizing the Lord as He walks along life’s journey with us. We are often distracted by imagined or even real problems along the way that we lose sight of Him who took the initiative of walking with us.

Peter once experienced this when He asked Jesus to let him walk on the water also. "Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water." Jesus said, "Come.” Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"

The perception of the strong wind made him doubt on Jesus’ presence. We should not allow whatever problem, confusion, and sadness to weigh us down to the point of doubting God’s presence in our lives.

* * *

St. Luke’s account is obviously referring to the Holy Eucharist. This is why, the late Polish pope took this Gospel passage as the basis of his Apostolic Exhortation. According to him, “The image of the disciples on the way to Emmaus can serve as a fitting guide for a Year when the Church will be particularly engaged in living out the mystery of the Holy Eucharist.” He was referring to the Year of the Eucharist, from October 2004 to October 2005.

I THINK these two disciples also present to us an image of ourselves today. Often, there is widespread confusion and lack of clarity over certain issues that confront us. And we are driven by mere opinions of the majority, tossed and 'swept along by every wind of teaching'.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in a homily before his election as Pope Benedict XVI, addressed the College of Cardinals: "We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as definitive and has as its highest value one's own ego and one's own desires... The Church needs to withstand the tides of trends and the latest novelties.... We must become mature in this adult faith, we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith."

* * *

“Then, Jesus interpreted to them what referred to Him in all the Scriptures…and they recognized Him in the ‘breaking of the bread’…but He vanished from their sight.”

In our confusions about faith and morals, to whom do we turn? The disciples recognized Jesus in the Word and in the Breaking of the Bread. The Holy Scriptures will “keep our hearts burning” until our eyes are opened and we shall see the Lord in the ‘breaking of the bread’.

In every celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the Road to Emmaus is made present once again. And the words of the disciples echo in our hearts: ‘Mane nobiscum, Domine.’

But the Lord vanishes from our sight for physically we don’t see Him. Yet, He is actually staying with us in the Bread and Wine so that where sight, touch and taste are deceived in Him, only His words could make us believe that He is with us.

"Sacerdotes, 'consagrados en la Verdad'"

Estar inmersos en la Verdad, en Cristo, de este proceso forma parte
la oración, en la que nos ejercitamos en la amistad con Él y aprendemos a
conocerle: su forma de ser, de pensar, de actuar. Rezar es un caminar en
comunión personal con Cristo, exponiendo ante Él nuestra vida cotidiana,
nuestros logros y nuestros fracasos, nuestras fatigas y nuestras alegrías -es un
simple presentarnos a nosotros mismos ante Él. Pero para que esto no se
convierta en un autocontemplarse, es importante que aprendamos continuamente a
rezar rezando con la Iglesia.