The Book - 2021 RNJ - 2022 RNJ - 2019 RNJ - '03 to '18  The Book - 2012

     Father Allan Fenix
Father Allan Fenix is an American Catholic diocesan priest currently serving in his native land, the Philippines.  His work first appeared on RNJ in 2007, and we're delighted to welcome him back after a 5 year hiatus. In 2012, he published his first book, a collection of some of his best reflections appearing on RNJ and also titled, A Few Minutes with Father. Father Allan has a global following and a down to earth perspective on the challenges we all face as Catholic Christians.  He is a veteran SWL and an avid DX'er.



 A Few Minutes with Father: 2021

  Meditations on Our Life as Catholic Christians

By Father Allan Fenix

GLORIFYING AND PRAISING GOD

What was your last day of the year experience?

For me, I found myself “going in haste” to memories of the past, talking to members of my family long gone in my mind. It is like the shepherds who went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. (Luke 2: 16-17).

And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. (Luke 2: 19).

Life is about gathering chests of memories – nuggets of gold and precious jewels that we can constantly go back to and reminisce about, especially at this time of the year when all we want to do is to sit together with our own families, eating the food prepared for the occasion, and waiting for the year to change to a new one. We ask ourselves once again: What and where will this new year bring us?

I wish to share with you a road map that I have came up with for this year.

For the month of January, be it our life, our family, or our appliances and furniture, after going through the great pandemic together, I am grateful and thankful for what is still remaining and left for me. These are my essential resources to move on and through life.

For February, encourage by what I still have in my possessions, be it many or few, I start making baby steps. A journey of a thousand kilometers begins with the first step.

For March, keep on marching forward. I am on my way. In case I fall, I rise again. I wont lose hope. I would go back and keep on repeating the good that I have started. If I fall seven times, let me rise eight times.

April. Things are just heating up. It's an uphill battle. Nevertheless, my tank is full. I have to go on. As the song says it: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

May. Pause awhile and reflect at length on what I have been through. May everything fall into its rightful place. May God continually bless the things I am so far doing.

June. July. August. I join the community. My successes, big or small, are the successes of my community. And, in the same way, my failures.

September. October. At least, I am starting to get a glimpse of a far shoreline. It being the months of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the rosary, I see a lifeline thrown on to me and leading me safely to that shore I am so gradually reaching.

November. December. “ Eureka!” I am home again. This is a time to go back home again, gather my resources and repeat the good that I have been through.

Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them. (Luke 2: 20).

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


Full of Grace and Truth

In the past, when electric service was not yet in existence in our area, we made do. We adapted to living in the dark by the light of a flickering candle, battery powered lamp, or a kerosene-powered petromax.

But, when electricity came and became common, we got used to living in the brightness amidst the darkness of the night, and we started to long for it whenever, as is very common, electric power was out for hours on end.

How many of us went through the experience of having our utilities like light, water, cooking gas, or telephone cut off?

Without these utilities, we have no power. We live in darkness at night, sticky perspiration during the warm season, uncleanliness for lack of water, cold and stale food, being cut off from others and the all the rest of it.

This experience is similar to what John 1: 9-11 says: “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.”

Our non-acceptance of God is the experience of darkness, uncleanliness, being half cooked and cut off from the rest of the world. Thats why, nowadays, with the ever increasing price of our utilities, which eat up a big chunk of our monthly budget, we try to harness the power potential of the sun. We are gradually developing solar power. And, this experience is also akin to what John 1: 12-13 says: “But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor human choice nor by a man's decision but of God.”

I admire how some people, wishing to live off the grid to free themselves from the enslavement of paying their monthly utility bills, opt to live “off grid” by generating their own source of power, utilizing the God-given strength of nature.

From his fulness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 116-17).

We are happy and contented when our electronic gadgets are all fully-charged, light comes on when we switch it on, water flows from our faucets, gas runs through our stoves and we can cook our food. Then, we have the power to connect, to communicate, to get in touch.

But, then again, this can only be fully realized if we are all connected to the...

Word [which] became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth. (John 1: 14).

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


IN MY FATHER'S HOUSE

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions... Luke 2: 46.

Christmas, aside from the occasional firecracker sound heard somewhere, is a very noisy time in our households.

It's a holiday. There is no hurry to be anywhere and somewhere. It is just time to be at home, sit with our families and appreciate each other, while eating the prepared, still hot, high-caloric foods of the season. Going through our cabinets, drawers, photo albums, folders and files, we wonder how time has passed us by so fast. It was just the month of January. And look, its again December! Christmas!

It is a time of listening to the all-time classic Christmas songs as we also listen and ask how our lives have panned out the whole year through.

Its a holy day of obligation. Just merely observing from the sidelines, I can palpably feel the immeasurable happiness of seeing families together walking and riding to the nearest churches and chapels, sitting and listening to the Word of God in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, and asking what time is the next mass scheduled. Then, going by the manger at the side of the altar to take as many pictures as their camera storage can take in – gathering future memories because this time will never come by again.

This Christmas is also unique to many of us, especially as we were just emerging from the great darkness of the pandemic that our time has witnessed. We see how our lives, upon waking up one morning, have never been the same again. It greatly obliterated our day to day lives of going to work, to the market, to school and to our leisure activites.

He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. (Luke 2: 51).

We need to be grateful. Be thankful for every second, minute, hour, day, month, and year that flow into our lives as if each is a small nugget of gold.

In a lot of different ways, we all went through darkness of the pandemic and all of these are self explanatory. Yet, as we face another fast paced year ahead of us, we now know what to do – kneel down, pray and be obedient to our parents, our spouses, families and communities.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


INDOOR INTELLIGENT

In the long past, communication was so prohibitive and limited. Receiving a typewritten telegram from a delivery person was accompanied by a sense of dread on what the short message could be about.

It could either be a loved one being gravely sick, or a child asking for tuition money, or the death of a family member somewhere.

With the availability of the telephone, through long distance and overseas calls, the news was being transmitted to the concerned persons by sound, by words.

And, depending on the importance of the news, a person might travel days and distance just to bring the news to someone or, extraordinarily, by an angel like what happened...

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” ... Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David, his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1: 26-28, 30-33).

Two great things we learned about the Blessed Virgin Mary was that she was an indoor person. She knew only a few people in her life. But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren, for nothing will be impossible for God.” (Luke 1: 34-37).

And, intelligent... Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." (Luke 1: 38).

Nowadays, it is so easy to send and receive messages that, oftentimes, we take it for granted. We treat it so cheaply.

Messages are efforts of a person to reach out. To go out of their way. They wish not to be cut off from the rest. They wish to join the human race in its quest to complete and better itself.

God, through his angel, has taken all the initiative to reach out to the Blessed Virgin Mary for the initial completion of the long promise of a savior heard in Genesis 3: 15; "I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


YES or NO

All you need to say is simply "yes" or "no" anything beyond this comes from the evil one. Matthew 5: 37

Are you a people pleaser? Someone who does not want to hurt the feelings of anyone by rejecting them outright. So, we go to the extent of being a "yes" person who always responds in the affirmative to everyone who approaches us for a favor.

By being a “yes” person, one might come across as a good approachable person. However, in the long run, one is not able to accomplish anything of significance and value. All because, in being so, we have stretched ourselves too thinly – become over extended like the second son in Matthew 21: 30. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, "Yes sir," but did not go. It is said that multitasking lessens the quality of our service.

I read an article about learning to say no. Usually on a typical day, we have a routine to-do list. These are the priority activities that we would wish to accomplish in a single day.

On the other hand, there are times when we have a lot of free downtime and sometimes also a lot on our plates. So, to be able to deliver the optimum quality service for ourselves, there are instances when we have to say "no" to both people and activities right before us.

Our "no" might only be for that day or moment. Maybe tomorrow or the next, we might find time to go back to it like...

The man had two sons. He came to the first and said, “Son, go out, and work in the vineyard today.” The son said in reply, “I will not,” but afterwards he changed his mind and went. (Matthew 21: 28-29).

Which of the two did his father's will?” They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you.” (Matthew 21: 31-32).

It is not that we are glorifying prostitutes and tax collectors. We know the stigma that all of them are undergoing. During their prime, due to their working environment, they had been rejecting God's invitation for them to repent of their sins.

But everything must end. Prostitutes, tax collectors... all will one day grow old and weak. So, where will they go next but to God.?

When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him, but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him. (Matthew 21: 32).

The chief priests and the elders of the people possessed intellectual pride. They live in their heads. There is a dichotomy in their lives. They may know and understand many things under the sun. That's why it was so easy for them to say "yes " to anyone. However, praxis is for them an entirely different ball game.

Again, All you need to say is simply "yes" or "no" to anything. Beyond this comes from the evil one. (Matthew 5: 37).

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


NATURAL HIGH

Almost everyone of us has his own favorite words that, like a mantra carry us throughout the day.

It spontaneously pulls us however heavy the weight of the load we are carrying on our backs is.

Nowadays, it is in vogue to go natural and be environment-friendly. So, for me,it is the 10-letter word ENDORPHINS. The feel good hormones excreted by the brain ONLY if we keep on moving.

Scientifically, it is defined as a group of hormones secreted within the brain and nervous system interacting with the receptors in the brain that reduces the perception of pain. Thus, triggering a positive feeling in the body similar to that of morphine.

In my own experience with them, I've defined it as:

E... nergy, enthusiasm, elixir, excitement...

N... eeded

D...aily as an

O...verall

R...equirements for a

P...ositive

H...appiness which

I...nduces a

N...ice nightly

S... leep.

There are just a hundred and one things around us that can unmake our day.

Many go to a lot of lengths, even resorting to activities which endanger themselves and the lives of others, just to get that high without knowing that natural happiness at no cost. It is just within us, open and up for grabs.

However, we have to get up out of that bed, couch, sofa, chair...and move around.

Basking in the sun is a plus. It is more enhanced if we can reach out and talk with others.

And much more so if we can pray to someone UP there, the God of these endorphins. This is both the natural and supernatural high we can reach.

How lazy can we get?

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


IN PERSON. I'M A PERSON.

With the great panic brought about by the recent pandemic that we have all just been through, followed by the lockdowns, the quarantines, and the social distancings, social interaction almost stopped.

Then came the live streamings, the zoom meetings, the rapid uptick of online activities invading almost every aspect of our lives, with person to person encounters gradually getting eliminated. Transactions became impersonal and virtual.

Even the holy mass is just being live streamed in many places, and we only have the so-called "spiritual communion."

Lets go back to the basics. Lets go back to what Genesis 2: 18 said: “Yahweh God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helpmate...'

For me, for the sake of my sanity, I still cling and hold on to the old and traditional ways. Among other things:

I still opted for paper checks. At least I am pushed to get up, go out of the house and walk to the nearest bank and hand it in, as I hear the crisp greeting of a real person. Then, I can see other people around like me. I can also take advantage of their free coffee and a free pen, too.

I still borrow books at a physical library. Something to do to avoid getting Alzheimers. I can hold on to something and look forward to returning it back. Exchange a few words and feel that I am around people like me and not just emoticons... robots.

I still write letters by hand. Put and seal it in an envelop and visit the last standing forlorn looking post office by the corner. Smile and talk with the clerk and have a wonderful day...

And, over all of these, I still look for a church for the holy mass to sensually experience the real presence, the real person, the real God who is our life, light and salvation.  And, most of all, receive him from a real person just like me.

I wish not to be cut off. Be impersonalized. This is my only way to still be a person. Because when I'm in person, I'm a person.

Again, as Genesis 2:23 said, “The man exclaimed: 'This at last is bone  from my bones, and flesh from my flesh!”

Fr. Allan S. Fenix

THE JOURNEY WITHIN

As a child, I was fascinated by, and fond of watching, outer space themed movies like Star Wars, Star Trek, Buck Rogers in the 21st Century, Alien. I always ask myself how it must to be out there, fully suspended from everything.

Recently, I read about these space cowboy billionaires who spearheaded their own space tourism ventures out of their own resources. Their out of this world trips, defying the law of gravity, were just amazing to us ordinary mortals just watching from the sidelines.

Similarly, I underwent an almost identical experience as theirs when I underwent a 3-day solitude. The preparation involved long hours and days of prayers and silence... Silencing the senses. And, at last, when the journey took off, it was so heavy for me that all of a sudden I just lost control. I thought my mind and heart was almost about to explode. I was veering between consolations and desolations.

Consolation is the experience of goodness and positivity. I felt as though at the top of the world without noticing the pace and passing of time. It is just the basking in God's love.

On the other hand, desolation is the experience of being down in the dumps. Pure negativities. A formless void. There was darkness over the deep. Genesis 1: 2. It was like pushing a boat on a dry stony riverbed.

With my hands, I tried grasping on to something but there was none to hold on to. With my feet, I tried stepping on any sand or peeble but, likewise, none.

It was an other worldly experience, and I thought I might already be at a point of no return. It felt endless, but, at the end of the third day, alas, when I surfaced, it was as though I was gasping for air. I was running after my breath. I'm back to myself.

I liken the extraordinary journey to three biblical characters that are known to many of us

  1. Moses before the burning bush.

    He led his flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.

There the angel of Yahweh appeared to him in the shape of a flame of fire, coming from the middle of a bush... Now Yahweh saw him go forward to look, and God called to him from the middle of the bush. “ Moses, Moses.” he said... “come no nearer ” he said. Take off your shoes, for the place on which you stand is holy ground.... (Exodus 31, 3-5).

2. The Zechariah experience.

Then there appeared to him the angel of the Lord, standing on the right of the altar of incense. The sight disturbed Zechariah and he was overcome with fear....

Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were surprised that he stayed in the sanctuary so long.

When he came out he could not speak to them, and they realized that he had received a vision in the sanctuary. But he could only make signs to them. (Luke 18-9, 11-12, 22).

3. Peter in the Transfiguration.

Then Peter spoke to Jesus. “Lord ”, he said, “ it is wonderful for us to be here, if you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (Matthew 174).

No need for the multi-billion dollar equipment. All we need is to stay put. Be calm. Be silent. Pray and let go. You are on the way. God will take over and bring one to the very depths and back safely, of course.

Try it. It's real.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


THE VALUE OF A SECOND

How many seconds does it take to spell the word GOD

Once while watching a live sporting event on TV, I noticed how the digital clock on the side of the screen was rapidly counting the seconds up.

I was glued looking at the seconds changing. Winners and losers... The new world record... The first, second, third placers were decided within mere seconds of each other.. The split second decisions...

Someone gave me a wristwatch. I love looking at the third hand, which is the “second” hand, as it moves quickly around the dial. I imagine it being one of those competitive athletes at the stadiums, speed beating each other, or even myself, just running laps around the track, going after my endorphin rush for the day.

Who loves a second? A second is, to our impression, something pre-owned, used, cheap, given up on, second hand... discarded.

Going back to the wristwatch given to me. Though it is just a counter for the minute and hour hands, I feel that time moves fast, as I also keep on moving. If I stop; if I'm immobile, then time also seems to slow down, to stand still, and to totally stop. So, I run with it. I go and move about.

Healthwise, seconds are life. Every second counts for our medical frontliners. It is so vital for them. Mere seconds can cause considerable damage and death to limbs and lives.

Even for someone in the throes of depression, a second counts, too. A good, brief message that flashes on one's path in a second can spell the difference between the great choice of life or suicide.

A second is the building block of a minute, an hour, a day... a month... a year... a century. We have to be grateful for every bit of it. If it stops, everything, without exception, STOPS. Death ensues.

How many seconds does it takes to spell the word LOVE

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


ALLSOME

Are you ALLSOME?

Nowadays, I often overhear the younger generations repeatedly saying: “SANA ALL!!! (Hope Everyone!).

The word ALL in the study of Logic is a universal term understood to mean without exception, including everything. Indeed, it truly is as if ALL means the ALMIGHTY LORD of LIFE. From him comes the basic ingredient in everything – Life. Without it, there would be nothing to speak of. Nothing ever would have existed.

That’s why when, “One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, 'Which is the first of all the commandments?' Jesus replied, 'The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, with ALL your soul, with ALL mind, and with ALL your strength.” (Mark 12: 28b-30).

Our God is very demanding and exacting. He wants us wholly unto himself. We cannot say only SOME of my heart, SOME of my soul, SOME of my mind, and SOME of my strength. We cannot be only SOME or else… “So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3: 16).

Going back to the study of Logic, the word SOME is a particular term. It can be quantified, and with limitation it can be counted. The word SOME to God is a negative term as it stands for “SATISFY ONLY MY EGO.”

To be SOME is to be selfish. Self-centered. Not minding the needs of others. For God, it is a negative term. Because when he died on the cross he died for us ALL and not only to SOME. That’s why the cross symbolizes the ALL- the ALMIGHTY LORD OF LIFE/LOVE.

The second is this: “‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12: 31).

On the other hand, the words ALL and SOME are not directly applied in the matter of loving our neighbor but, instead, looks on to the quality of our love for them: it is proportional to how we also love ourselves. It did not say to love ALL or SOME of your neighbors. So, it is very self explanatory to say that if we cannot even love our own family- our father, our mother, our siblings.. how much more will it be ourselves? So, the love we extend to them is also our love for ourselves.

Even the scribe in his conviction was able to express it. The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ‘He is One and there is no other than he. And ‘to love him with ALL your heart, with ALL your understanding, with ALL your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ – this is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Mark 12: 32-33).

To repeat, to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.

Now, are you ALLSOME? To be ALLSOME means the ALMIGHTY LORD of LIFE who can SATISFY ONLY MY EGO.

He is the only One who can satisfy my ego.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


THE BARTIMEAN METHOD

Nowadays, this kind of occurrence has become common and familiar. A certain person, not used to having an insurmountable problem, feeling breathless and hopeless, like facing a hard brick wall. Then, one day, that person is found dead due to a self-inflicted wound. Will we wait until it also happens to us or to one of our loved ones?

Whether our problem is somewhat related to health, finance, relationships, emotions, psychology, there are 3 efficient steps to follow to solve it. It is called the Bartimean Problem Solving Method.

1. Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you? The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” (Mark 10: 51).

Acknowledgment of the Problem. Bartimaeus did it by the roadside begging. He did not just stay home in his room, wallowing in self pity and waiting for a miracle to come up. Instead, he accepted his present situation and went out to search for a solution to his blindness by begging on the roadside, “Can anyone help me, please?!”

Going back now to ourselves. Ask yourself what are the topmost concerns that I am having right now with regards to my health, finance, relationships, emotions, and mental state? If we cannot find a home solution right away, don’t brood and stew in self pity but face it, acknowledge it, and accept it. Running away won't help anyway. “It” will still be there. Waiting.

2. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.” (Mark 10: 47-48).

On our own, we are very limited and wanting. Our strength and know-how can only take us a certain distance. Someone stronger and more knowledgeable than us out there might be able to help lift us up out of the darkness of our mire.That someone could be a trusted friend who is only looking out after welfare, a licensed authority, or who else but God, Himself, the True Healer and Helper.

3. Jesus stopped and said, “Call him”... Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?”… “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way. (Mark 10: 49, 51-52).

Accompanied by our faith, the solution to our own problem is within us. It is within reach. God has properly and sufficiently equipped us. In coming to Him, His response was merely pointing the solution right back at us.

Look how Bartimaeus, the once blind man, and now a seeing one, reacted: He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. (Mark 10: 50).

Now, the big question is, do you still have faith?

Fr. Allan S Fenix


ROSEMARY

Come the month of October, when we were still in the elementary grades, making a rosary was our usual project. Reflecting back on it, I believe that it was due to Divine Providence that the month of October, (from the Roman word for eight, Octavus, the 8th month of the Roman year, and the 10th in the Gregorian calendar), was solely dedicated to the Holy Rosary, as the number, and even the word itself, is already equivalent to the word ROSARY.


The two letter Os are the beads. The letter T is the cross found at the tip of every rosary. The combination of the letters C and B is another stringed bead = CB. And, the letters E and R are the cuff links connecting the entire rosary. We used long nose pliers to bend and close the fine steel wires.

Aside from the letters A, P and Q, the letters E and R are locked to resemble the cuff links connecting the entire rosary. Even the number 8, which was the Roman word for eight – Octavus from which it came, are two beads over each other.

And finally, October being the 10th month in the Roman calendar is a steel or string and a bead materiel for the rosary.

October really is the ROSARY, the Rose of Mary – the flowers of Mary.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


FROM SLAVES TO FRIENDS

There was a battalion of soldiers who were about to board a huge military aircraft for a special operation somewhere. For their seating arrangements, while the officers and noncommissioned ones were in the front where there were seats, the enlisted ones, those in the lower ranks, the privates, were in the rear where the rest of the cargoes were. They were either just sitting on the floor or standing, holding on to something lest they fall down.

During the take off, due to various factors like overloading, the plane did not successfully leave the ground but instead hit head on the wall at the end of the runway. The aircraft crashed and burned. However, there were those who survived. Since the exit door was at the rear part of the plane, those at that area were given a few seconds of window time to jump from the burning plane before it totally exploded and killed everyone in it.

The military that day was left without a functioning field officer, as all the officers and noncommissioned ones seated in the front rows expired. Since only the surviving soldiers, who were mostly privates, knew about the special operations that they were headed to, all of them received on the spot promotions as officers.

As a big thanksgiving, for their new lives and rank promotions, the soldiers went to Church and it so happened that the gospel reading for that day was Matthew 20: 16; “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

So, the next day, when a new plane was made available to transport them to their mission, both the officers and enlisted soldiers were mixed seated on the plane. They shared seats and standing areas.

We are again approaching the typhoon as well as the election season, whereby we will be choosing both our national and local leaders. And Jesus is giving us a road map:

Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant, whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10: 43-45).

In short, a slave who loves to serve.

The word SLAVE comes off as very strong. Jesus is showing us a model of a servant who is a slave who loves to serve.

After satisfying all of our basic needs – food, shelter, clothing, and education – it is human nature to look for a place to either express our gratitude or share our acquired skills and wisdom. There are those who join civic and religious organizations. We have a lot of them around. They are the admirable volunteers who unselfishly give of their time, talents and treasures. There are also those who seek political positions. They want to govern. That’s why they seek political positions.

Don’t despair at being labeled a slave. It is just temporary; just rhetoric; as Jesus will once again enter the picture and say, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead , I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I had made known to you.” (John 15: 15).

Just as in the story above both the officers and their soldiers became friends, Jesus will turn our being a servant, a slave, into making us his own dearly beloved friends.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


LIFE IS A SANDWICH

I grew up in a far out municipal town where I can remember that, whenever someone died, a black cloth was hung in front of the house for an adult, and a white one for someone younger. This was the way of informing the neighbors, village or town residents of a death in a certain family.

When art papers came to town and letter cutting was introduced in the school, people learned to paste, or mount, the name of the deceased on the black or white cloth.

With the advent of funeral services and tarpaulin printing, much has improved. Clearly printed now on the signs set up in front of the houses of the deceased are colored pictures, the names, the dates of birth and death, the age and so on.

I keep on biking around our parish and, with the frequency that I see them, I was able to say that LIFE IS A SANDWICH and the difference is in the filling. A sandwich is made up of two slices of bread with a filling in the middle. For that matter, the date of birth is the first slice and the second slice is the date of death and the short indent separating the two of them, the date of the birth and death, is the summary of the life of the person, which is the filling.

For those of us who are left reflecting about death, may I ask you the question, “What kind of life sandwich do you have?”

I propose three possibilities:

1. Margarine sandwich. Margarine, or familiarly known to us as mantequilla, is the poor man’s sandwich spread. It is so cheap. One can buy it by the gram or kilo in a bakery.

Many Filipinos wish to be taller. In the past, when we were still children, it was marketed as height promoting. However, no school child wants to be caught having it during recess times with all the added sugar to make it tasty. Children hide it and then don’t eat it.

With margarine as our sandwich filling, our life might be full of challenges and struggles. We have a lot of ambitions, dreams, and plans, which we would wish to become reality, and so we try hard in the face of all the difficulties and hardships.

2. Cheese Whiz sandwich. To make us look happy on pictures or selfies that we later post on our social media accounts, we say “CHEESE!!!” If our sandwich spread is of Cheese Whiz, we could be living now the benefits and rewards from the efforts and initiatives from when our sandwich spread was just a margarine. Life seems to be smooth and comfortable.

3. Heart attack sandwich. What is this? From the vices, addictions, our favorite high fatty oily diets… It means that we are living very unhealthy and risky lifestyles.

A heart attack sandwich consists of a Mayonnaise* spread (no nutrition), a Ma Ling (wrong nutrition), Bacon (not nutritious), Tocino (to whom it may concern) Hot dog ( Who still eats dog meat nowadays?!) and Longganisa (rich in gas).

To end our reflection on death, what kind of sandwich are we having now? Is it the Margarine sandwich? Do we like or abhor it? Is it a Cheese Whiz sandwich? Everything seems to be going right for us right now. Or, the Heart Attack sandwich? Our lives and arteries are getting clogged with all the high fats, oils and sugars – the immoralities and wrongs we do with our lives.

*Names of these various sandwich spreads seem to rhyme badly with our dialect words.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


GIVING UP, GIVING OUT, GIVING BACK

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him,”Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” (Mark 10: 17-18).

I read that the younger generation of today, or the so-called millennials, would rather prefer an experience which for them is lasting - the good. Like travelling and learning something about the culture of another place, rather than buying material objects for themselves which are merely temporary.

What is good? Good is defined as that which is morally right or acceptable. It is something that gives benefit, profit or advantage.

Having been created in the image and likeness of God, all of us have the spark of the divine within us. All of us long for the good. However, limited as we are, that which is good seems analogous to each of us. Each of us understands something as good subjectively. What one sees as good for himself might not be for another and vice versa.

According to each one's temperament, we line up different activities to satisfy what we think is good for us. That’s why there are people who resort to all sorts of vices and addictions, as they thought it was something good for them. There are also those who prefer charitable activities, community reach outs, or volunteering, as they also consider them to be good for them.

You know the commandments: you shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother. He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth. Jesus looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” (Mark 10: 19-21).

Peter began to say to him, “We have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands… (Mark 10: 28-30).

Let us pause. Give it some time. Ask ourselves: What is the good that I am doing and involved in right now which gives me happiness? Is it the right good that makes me lighter for heaven or the wrong good that makes me heavy for hell?

If, in case, we are fully loaded. Here are some of the ways by which we can become lighter; lose some weight. To make us less richer. Less full. Thus, fit for the Kingdom of heaven.

  1. GIVE UP. Let us accept the fact that we are not able to do everything in our own capacity. When we give up something we offer it to someone who can better deal with it. Giving up is an act of taking it to a higher level; a higher standard. Giving up is tossing it to heaven – to God. For He is the rightful owner of it.

2. GIVE OUT. When we give out we are being unselfish. We extend ourselves to others. We share something. As we are all too familiar: Give and give until it hurts.

3. GIVE BACK. Ang taong hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan (a person who does not know how to look back will not be able to reach one's destination) Giving back is like giving out. We care for those who are coming behind us. For once, we were also at the back and we are what we are now because someone gave back to us.

Let us give in to giving up, giving out and giving back. How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!

It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God. (Mark 10: 23, 25).

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


MAMA LA, PAPA LO

Mama La! , Papa Lo! - “Mother Grandma, Father Grandpa.” What we usually overhear from the mouths of children is the stark reality in many of our families nowadays.

Many seem to forget what Mark 10: 6-9 says:

But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human beings must separate.

Today, children are commonly left in the care of their grandparents, or other older relatives, for various reasons such as being a single parent, overseas employment, or separation. Or even much worse, abandonment. Thus, we have a lot of children in our society growing up INCOMPLETE.

The word INCOMPLETE, which means not to have all its parts, is a contraction of 3 words:

IN – a negative prefix to mean NOT.

COM – a prepositional prefix to mean WITH.

PLETE – Latin for to FILL.

So, literally, to be INCOMPLETE is to not have any filling. To lack something.

Our society, for various reasons I have already mentioned, is raising children who are calling out, “Mama La and Papa Lo,” which means they are being raised incomplete. As children they are supposed to be under the care of their own natural parents. As Mark 10: 6-9 says it again, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

Do you want to grow up INCOMPLETE? Do you want to bring INCOMPLETE children into the world?

A child will naturally ask and look for her own real parents and when she cannot find them she will just remain silent like a lamb. That’s why children are considered as the greatest. Mark stated it this way in his gospel:

And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, “ Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such a child. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.

Taking a child, he place it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the one who sent me.” (Mark 10: 13-15 and 9: 36-37).

All of us have been children when we had nothing but only our innocence. However, as we grew up, here and there, we picked up along the way, things and learnings that made us “rich” – COMPLETE – with filling.

Despite all the evil things that the world is trying to use to taint our innocence, we have to maintain our holiness. For “...it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19: 24).

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


TO FILL AND TO FEEL

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you, to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna… (Mark 9: 43,45-47).

For me, it was not difficult to reflect on the above passage. I can picture a maimed, crippled, or blind person, as I have already seen several documentaries about veterans who lost eyes and limbs in the various armed conflicts.

Either they were using a leg or arm prosthesis, a wheelchair, a cane or a guide dog. There were also those who lost body parts due to illnesses, such as diabetes.

More than losing a part of the body (a very close loved one!) they lost something which was even more important in their lives – the use of their own faculties to function well and do good here in this world. Considering what they went through, I’m pretty sure they have earned sufficient merits to enable them to enter heaven. Completed merits!

The word INCOMPLETE, which means not to have all its parts, is a contraction of 3 words:

IN – a negative prefix to mean NOT.

COM- a prepositional prefix to mean WITH.

PLETE – Latin for to FILL.

So literally, to be incomplete is to be not with any filling. To lack something.

Let us not be without feeling. For we, who are still in possession of our complete limbs and faculties, and function normally, and who sometimes take all of them for granted, we have to be very grateful. Sometimes, the importance of something only dawns upon us when it is already gone. How would you feel, being abnormal?

Jesus showed us how to feel:

At that time, John said to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us." Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us." (Mark 9: 38-40).

In school or any institution, agency or office, one cannot graduate and receive one's degree, or advance to the next course level, be granted a license or a permit, or obtain a visa to legally operate a business, or travel, if all of the required documents are incomplete. In the world, one needs to have all the complete requirements to be on the safe and legal side. However, in heaven, it doesn’t matter.

In heaven, everyone is accepted regardless whether we have the complete or incomplete compliment of limbs. It is something that is not an issue. However, only on one condition that we do not bring with us our SIN.

In my other reflections, I have defined sin as SEETHING in INAPPROPRIATE NEGATIVITIES.

This is the one thing strictly not needed nor required of us to enter heaven. We are able to leave it behind through the mercy of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick. These are the only ways and means to cut it off.

If one holds on to it, we will be thrown out into Gehenna, where their worms do not die, and the fire is not quenched. (Mark 9: 48).

God even has a special anger towards those who inspire it in others for, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9: 42).

Jesus, in this encounter, showed us how not to FILL something materially but to FEEL, which is to perceive through the senses that do not refer to any special organ.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


THE GREATEST

They came to Capernaum and once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. (Mark 9: 33-34).

Lately, as the election season is starting to heat up with all the voter registrations and the filing of candidacies, and, with the new school year opening, we give our attention to our beloved seasoned politicians and children.

A seasoned politician who knows all the strategies, and tactics on how to please his constituents to keep on winning their precious votes, cannot be silent. He is so noisy. Talkative. He is everywhere, in all places giving press conferences, distributing relief goods, having photo ops. He wants to give the impression that he is a very important person – the greatest. At least in his own opinion.

That’s why the gospel passage Mark 9: 35, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all,” is like a cold water shower for them after all of the ongoing witch hunts happening in our government. The endless finger pointing on who is right and wrong, who stole millions and who is hiding something from the public eye, vying for political positions… Against this backdrop, what about the child? What is he even doing here? He cannot yet even cast a vote nor give financial contributions. During the pandemic, they are all housebound. They are not permitted to go out of the house nor go to school physically.

We love children for their still uncorrupted innocence. In the midst of all the bickering and desire for political greatness among our politicians, we are reminded in Mark 9: 35-37;

Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “ If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all, Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the one who sent me. “

A child might be of no value for a politician who is merely concerned with the precious approval and votes of his constituents. As he wants control, for him, they are merely liabilities. However, a child is still the greatest. For, in his total innocence and vulnerability, he is merely concerned for the day at hand – for today!

In accepting a child, we let God take control of our lives. We are not really the one in control but it is God.

As we grew up, we were commercialized. We abruptly lose our innocence. We would like to be in full control. But, in truth and in fact, it is God who is in control of everything. Like a helpless child, we look to him to put his arms around us as we receive Him in our lives.

Let me end my reflection with the following passage:

See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. (Matthew 18:10).

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

There are people who do not want to be asked questions. They do not want to be made uncomfortable by being put on the spot. What if they answer incorrectly?

This was what came to mind when I read the following gospel passage:

Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” (Mark 8: 27-28).

With this exchange between Jesus and his disciples, I was also reminded of the great stress that we seminarians had to undergo in sleeplessly preparing ourselves for our oral comprehensive examinations. A lot of the subject matter was to be covered, and we did not not know what questions the panelists might throw out at us. Being able to satisfactorily answer these questions was similar to the initial responses that Jesus heard back from his question: “They said in reply, 'John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.'”

And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Christ.”

For once, Peter got the correct answer. He did not drop the ball this time. If Peter had been a seminarian before the most feared panelist with that correct answer, he would probably have gotten the rating of Summa Cum Laude.

He began to teach them that the son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” (Mark 8: 31-33).

We naturally want maximum happiness. We abhor pain and suffering, as it is a great waste of our time and a barrier to our personal happiness.

So, without further ado, we indulge ourselves with all sorts of “painkillers” –addictions, escapist fantasies, etc., as if those will bring us instant relief and the feeling of unexplainable overall euphoria, like an addict who keeps on chasing the dragon. With constant use, when the doses seem no longer enough, we extra double it until we overdose.

Jesus concretely showed us how to embrace wholeheartedly his pain and suffering by bravely going through the rejection by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, to be killed and rise after three days. He did not escape. He faced it.

With our faith in God, we must stop our endless complaining and rantings but instead endure it. Pain and suffering builds and edifies us.

Going back to ourselves, we can respond in two ways:

A. Many of Jesus' disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it? ... As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. (John 6: 60, 66).

B. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6: 67-68).

Which one are you?

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


BE OPENED

I was recently conversing with a friend who owns a SUV pick-up model called the “Navara.” I said that the name is not appropriate for a top of the line vehicle such as this because it seem rhymes with our Filipino word “nabara,” which means “clogged.”

Whether inside our household, in our work equipment, our transport vehicle or in our arteries, the word “clogged” is never good news. That was so when Jesus went into the district of the Decapolis, and people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment, and begged him to lay his hand on him. (Mark 7: 32).

In philosophy, evil is defined as the deprivation of something. Evil was in the deaf person in the form of deafness. The very purpose of our auditory faculty is to hear; to listen; to understand. Thus, to have a peaceful coexistence with everyone around us. Whenever a faculty defaults from the task for which it was created, there is the presence of evil. Thus, blindness in the eye, sadness in the life, physical paralysis or sickness, poverty and violence in society. These are all evils.

God lent us our life to be opened and not closed for business. How do you feel when you need something so much but when you go downtown the stores, the banks, the clinics all have these signs saying, “Sorry We Are Closed” or “Gone Fishing”? And all because it was either a Sunday, a holiday, or there was a strong typhoon approaching. Or how about when you are in a hurry for an appointment and the short cut road you were about to use has this sign posted on it: “Road Closed: Sorry for the Inconvenience.” Or how about when we are urgently completing a project or report only to find that the only office printer has this sign taped to it: “Out of Order.”

Jesus saw the challenging situation of the deaf man, so he took him off by himself and away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and spitting, touched his tongue, then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha” – that is, “Be opened!” (Mark 7: 33-34).

How we wish that, like Jesus, upon finding ourselves in the middle of the downtown area on a holiday, a Sunday, or in anticipation of an approaching strong typhoon, with our very urgent needs we could say to the banks, the clinics, the stores, “Ephphatha!” (“Be opened”).

Let us be in the two-way business of giving and receiving in life. What evil has visited our life, our family, our workplace, our relationships, our studies, our community, our society, or our church?

Let us steal off by ourselves, away from the crowd, and let Jesus put his finger in the evil agonizing our life, harassing our family, disenfranchising our workplace, splitting our relationships, distracting us from our studies, wreaking havoc in our communities, dividing our society, tempting the Church…

And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. (Mark 7: 35).

Sin, which separates us from God, is seething in inappropriate negativity and clogs all aspects of our lives. It must be removed through the grace of God and the Sacraments of the Reconciliation.

Ephphatha!” – “Be opened!” Let us all be in the great business of giving and receiving in life. From then on, our lives, our relatives, our work, our studies, our communities, society and the Church will never be the same again. Like the people in the gospel, they will say of us, “We are exceedingly astounded as he has done all things well. He makes the evil spirits go away! (Mark 7: 37).

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


RELEVANT vs IRRELEVANT

The people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me... (Mark 7: 6)

According to Socrates, an unexamined life is not worth living. As we end the month of August, and before we enter into the "ber" months, the fourth and last quarter of the year, ask yourself this question: What are the relevant and irrelevant habits in your life?

Like vices, which are evil actions hindering our growth spiritually and morally, irrelevance is also negative and should be given up as if mandatory to do so. Vices are the bad habits which, in time, calcify in our system and become a part of us. They eventually become the hardened contingent of our normal operating processes.

You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition.” (Mark 7: 8).

Let me illustrate it with a story:

In a certain parish, there used to be a priest who had a pet dog. He would tie it by the side of the church while he was at the altar celebrating the mass.

The years passed, that priest had gone, and succeeding priests have come to the parish.  Yet the parishioners continued having a dog tied by the side of the church while any priest was at the altar celebrating the mass.

One day, when someone was curious enough to ask them the reason for this practice, the old timers of the parish started to ask themselves that question also. And so, after having eventually traced its origin, they stopped the practice of tying a dog by the corner of the church while a priest was at the altar celebrating the mass.

Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person, but the things that come out from within are what defile. From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed , malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile. (Mark 7: 15, 21-23).

So, what can we do with this knowledge? Let us go through the 6 stair steps below:

1. Evil thoughts. An idle mind and idle hands are the playground of the devil. Let us fill our lives with things that will lift us high into the heavens and not those which will bring us down to hell!

2. Unchastity, adultery, licentiousness. Stop using people to satisfy our lower desires. One is enough. Two is too much. Three is a crowd. Let us see each other as brothers and sisters.

3. Theft, greed. Be grateful for what you have. Start from there and everything will just follow. Because the more we want the more we will despair over the things we will not be able to possess.

4. Murder, malice. Everyone of us is going through something. Please be patient with me. God is not yet through with me. Remember the golden rule: Do unto others as you would like others to do unto you.

5. Deceit, envy. Work hard for every cent that you wish to have.

6. Blasphemy, arrogance, folly. Silent rivers run deep. Be careful of your language. It is very powerful. It can either build or destroy; bring life or bring death. Be very careful also of what you wish for: it will surely come true. Let us ask God for more wisdom in our lives.

At this point in the time of our history, when many things are already irrelevant, let us still be relevant by examining ourselves. Let us maintain and improve the relevance and cut off the irrelevance.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


FURTHER AND DEEPER ON

Many of Jesus' disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” (John 6: 60).

As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. (John 6: 66).

Reflecting on these words from St. John, I remembered the time when I was a child just learning how to swim in the nearby river. I was so afraid to do what the other children my age were doing and jump directly into the water. They were so fearless! As for me, I was too scared to do it like they did. Even though they kept on insisting that I would not sink, and even offering to hold both of my hands, I still kept on insisting to first know what was at the bottom of that deep greenish river before jumping into it.

For you, whether living near a body of water or far from it, whether a swimmer or not, a water lover or something else, what would you wish to do in case you should go boating? Would you row farther away from the shore and be adventurous? Or just row near the shore filled with anxiety about what might await you further and deeper on?

Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him; “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6: 67-69).

Now then, reflecting further and deeper on these words of St. John, I remember the story of a very powerful king who led his fleet of ships into battle with a rival enemy. When they reached the shore he ordered his soldiers to burn the ships. He told them, “We will either return home victorious using their ships or we will die here.” By burning their ships, the king was hoping to galvanize and motivate them. They had to fight fiercely in order to survive. Failure was not an option. Everyone had to be fully committed to the campaign ahead.

To conclude my reflection, I'd like to compare it to the response that Peter received when he said in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you.”

What will there be for us?

Everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. (Matthew 19: 27, 29).

Going back again to my question in the beginning:

For you, whether living near a body of water or far from it, whether a swimmer or not, a water lover or something else, what would you wish to do in case you should go boating? Would you row farther away from the shore and be adventurous? Or just row near the shore filled with anxiety about what might await you further and deeper on?

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


ASSUMPTION

The following verses remind us of the good old normal times...

Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth... Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home. (Luke 1: 39-40, 56)

At present, in this time of the pandemic, with all the lockdowns again happening everywhere, and the differing quarantine statuses, who still can do these former things? Set out... travel in haste... enter the house... greet... remain with her?

We are told to stay home and avoid going out of the house for unnecessary matters. The trend now is social distancing – working from home, blended learning, zoom meetings and live streaming. Slowly, our relationships suffer. We are getting cut off from one another other.

When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Luke 1: 41-42).

Ex abundantia enim cordis os loquitur: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” And what is the content of the heart? Is it full of praise or criticism? Encouragement or sarcasm? Positivity or negativity?

Was Elizabeth also informed of the annunciation by the angel to Mary, so that she immediately acknowledged her and the child in her womb? Elizabeth did not focus on herself but on the needs of another. She was not self-centered. Her heart was disposed towards receiving, and so she tended towards the divine:

And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1: 43-45).

On many occasions, we are reminded to mind the tone of our voice and also the kind of words that we use. The voice of Mary carried a divine tone. So much so that during her visitation to her cousin Elizabeth, it became an occasion to deepen what was said to her by the angel.

And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed.” (Luke 1: 46-48).

Proclaims... rejoices... looked with favor... Does God play favorites, favoring one person over the other? I keep on asking myself if I'm more blessed than the homeless and sick person just living out on the streets, and eking out a living from the scraps falling down from the tables of the rich? What is your opinion? Were we more blessed back when life seemed normal and more healthy for us?

...the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. (Luke 1: 49-50).

Some guiding questions to remind ourselves of who we are supposed to be:

1. Is there conceit in our hearts?

2. Do we abuse the little or big power and privileges entrusted to us?

3. Are we possessed by our possessions so much that our hearts are hardened and we multiply selfishness?

4. Is there gratefulness in my heart? Do I freely share back the virtues that were also freely given to us?

In the dictionary, the word ASSUMPTION, as a verb, means an act of taking or beginning to have power, authority. The Feast of the Assumption is also an occasion for us to concretize what the Church has been all along reminding us of – we are the Church of the poor – a preferential option for the poor.

This can be done by coming to their aid and showing mercy in uplifting their condition, while filling them with both good and divine things.

Just like Mary did in visiting her cousin Elizabeth.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


HEAVENLY FOOD TRAIN

After anointing a number of parishioners who, due to the complications brought about by their various illnesses, no longer had the capability to eat solid food, or even to participate in the Holy Communion, I remembered the following words of Jesus in John 6: 51:

I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

Seeing them in their miserable state and gradually wasting away, I wished that Jesus could be inside of all of us, like a natural spring that just keeps on flowing unceasingly. So, who still needs to eat?!

The whole food production enterprise, from field preparation, to planting, to cultivating, to harvesting, to processing, to packaging, and finally to transporting to the supermarkets, consumes a lot of our precious energy and resources. It has adverse effects both on the environment and even on us humans.

Moreover, food eats up a large chunk of the household budget, like the rent or mortgage, and all the other miscellaneous bills. Eating, masticating and digesting burns up a lot of energy. And the body does not really benefit 100% from its total caloric intake.

I am the bread that comes down from heaven...”

I am the bread of life...”

This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that we may eat it and not die.” (John 6: 41, 48, 50)

So, how wonderful would it be to imagine not only for the sick and dying members of our church, but all the rest of us as well, still strong and normal, Jesus already ingrained in our body and our being.

If then, we can devote more of our precious energy and resources for higher pursuits, we will find they lie in things like just appreciating God's nobler creatures creeping all around us.

From now on, there will be no more lengthy cooking shows, voluminous cook books, or very expensive cookware to waste our hard earned money on. All we need to do is to believe in what he said that:

Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me... and I will raise him on the last day”

Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. (John 6: 45, 44, 47).

Indeed, this is the real and genuine heavenly food train.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


POOLED NOT FOOLED

The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, aside from being one of the Seven Sacraments, is a vocation that many have chosen. However, many, from both practical and financial considerations, would not want to have their wedding held in the provinces.

In their mindset, the scenario can be likened to that mentioned in John 6: 5 and 7:

When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”

Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.”

For the young couple, holding weddings in the provinces is cost prohibitive, as most people there “came from just one womb,” and the impression was that getting married, in that particular place, would entail preparing food and feeding the entire village or, much more, even the larger town community during the celebration. A loan of several year's salary wouldn't buy enough to satisfy a village, let alone a town, full of stomachs.

There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?”… Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. (John 6: 9, 11-13).

What those people who harbor such thoughts as we saw expressed above do not know is that in the provinces, they have wedding practices which help in raising enough funds for the newly-wedded couple to not only help pay the expenses accrued during the celebration, but to provide seed money to start life with as well.

Each region has their own version of the “money dance” tradition. In the Bicol region, there is the Pantomina. It is a wedding dance which is a fun way for the couple to get some instant seed money to begin their lives together, since the money is considered as a community gift for the couple. It is pooled together from the wedding sponsors, family, relatives, visitors and well wishers. The little that each one can give grows into a big amount. In the Tagalog areas, there is the Sabitan ng pera, or “prosperity dance.” It serves to usher in financial abundance in a couple’s new marriage.

From these, we can see that the Church, as the body of Jesus Christ, is comprised of all the baptized people. It is not only for the rich who can afford it, nor for the benefactors and sponsors who often have something material to give. It is as well for the differently-abled; the poor and those at the margins of society. This is indeed the mystery of the Miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves. It is that the little that each one can give grows to become a big amount.

Their resources got pooled. Not fooled. Not pulled.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


THE HOLY GRAIL OF NOURISHMENT

Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.” (John 6: 26).

Whenever I eat a high-caloric value food, be it an egg, corn, or avocado, I feel full for quite a time. How I wish I could also get hold also of "...the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” (John 6: 27).

If I could get hold of that food, it would really be the holy grail of savings for me. And also for the multitude who, according to the news lately, with the sporadic availability of work, are going through more frequent hunger pangs than before the onslaught of the pandemic.

A lot of them have even decided to just go back to the countryside. At least there they are near the land. They can go up the mountains and dig for root crops for sustenance. If their stomachs are filled up, they will be physically and mentally strong, and all the rest will merely follow.

So! At which farm, supermarket, or food bank can we find this “holy grail of nourishment” that endures for eternal life?

Going back to the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves:

When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”

One of the disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.” (John 6: 9, 11-13).

Yes, the bread that endures for eternal life is in the heart of each and everyone! We are the Church, the Body of Christ. The little that each one can give grows into a big amount and goes a long way. The food that endures for eternal life erases the shroud of selfishness in the hearts of people. Everyone now is willing to contribute something.

Exactly! God reduced himself to the level of food and drink in the Holy Eucharist which, in turn, fulfills the most basic need of the human person in us. It is so that we can immediately reach Him not on a farm, in a supermarket, or at a food bank, but in the Church. Us, together! The Body of Jesus Christ!

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” (John 6: 35).

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


WORK HARD. PLAY HARD. REST HARD.

He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. (Mark 6: 31).

Is a vacation, a rest, or a sabbatical only intended for the “can-affords” or the privileged?

There is a story about two tree cutters. One spent a lot of time honing and sharpening his axe, while the other had no time for it. So, to maximize the use of his time and so reach the highest quota, from morning until evening he just kept on cutting trees. However, at the end of the day, the week, and the month, the one who spent more time honing and sharpening his axe was able to cut more trees than the latter, who had no time for his axe nor, as it turns out, for himself.

Go! Go! Go!

When we were still much younger and stronger, we were told to just keep on working – that rest was not a word in our vocabulary. However, with the passing years, no matter what it is we are doing and busy about, we begin to feel the weight, the burden and the consequences of life, and the toll of it on our physical health. We begin to get tired quickly and look for rest whenever, wherever and however.

Even accomplished Olympic athletes, extreme activity performers, pilots, and all who perform with excellence on the field, on the floor, or in the air, do so through a combination of hours, days, weeks, months, and years of combined rest and practice. And even while at rest, they must mentally keep on replaying their actions and executions so as to achieve a higher level of perfection.

The Apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. (Mark 6: 30).

The skilled routines that are seen in the tree cutters, the Olympians, the extreme sports aficionados and the pilots are also seen in our daily lives.

I remember when we were still in the seminary and our summer vacations were spent being assigned two by two in parishes around our Archdiocese. Before being sent to our individual assignments, we had a pre-fielding seminar wherein we were briefed on the particular activities we were expected to perform.

After the send off activities and the month-long assignment, all seminarians headed back to the seminary for evaluation, sharing of experiences and what had been learned and, finally, there was a special outing to a designated location. After all these activities, there was only time for a month-long home visit before going back to the seminary for another school year.

So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place... When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. (Mark 6: 32, 34).

Inside the family, inside a community, this can also be done. The desert where we can be alone by ourselves can be Sunday, which is a day for the family as well as for God. Let us bring back the times when the day is solely devoted entirely to church and relaxation with the family, so that come Monday, we will be fully charged and reinvigorated to face another long week full of obligations and responsibilities.

Daily, as family members have their own busy schedules, supper time can also be a great opportunity to gather together, eat, enjoy and savor the food and just talk with each other about the day.

So, a vacation, a rest, and even a sabbatical is for everybody. Work hard and play hard, but rest hard also.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


PACKING LIST

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick - no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. (Mark 6: 7-9).

In the past, every new incoming seminarian was given a long checklist of things to bring. From a pail, a dipper, and a mosquito net, to a soap case, a slipper and a bed cover, to a flashlight and the daily schedule, we were all expected to arrive so prepared.

Jesus Christ is really very futuristic. He had already foreseen the future when he gave a packing list to the twelve. But why only a walking stick and sandals? It is because Jesus would like us to be always on the go, up and running. If we have a spare and then, moreso, an extra, we will start to become too self reliant. Jesus would like his disciples to be on their toes, shoulder to shoulder, working with others and relying on him.

Look at what these modern technological gadgets are doing to all of us right now! They are transforming us into beings so engrossed in ourselves that we spend hours and hours in sedentary silence, lurking in the corners and ignoring the others around us. With just a walking stick and sandals, we are pushed to reach out to others, and to be “there” for others.

The walking stick and the sandals are symbolic. With only these bare essentials, we will try as much as possible to have a good and mutually beneficial relationship with our community and our neighbors. In anything that might happen, until we become worn out and out of order, we won't hesitate to approach them with our service to Christ.

Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave.” (Mark 6: 10).

It has long been said that a rolling stone does not gather any moss. If we are everywhere, we won't accomplish anything substantial anywhere. We will be spreading ourselves too thinly just when we need our energy whole and entire for the mission: to bloom wherever we are planted.

So they went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. (Mark 6: 12).

Whatever vocational state we choose, all of us have to confront the various demons plaguing our families, our society, and the Church. We have to help construct the Kingdom of God while still we are still here on earth. We live in a fallen, sick world. It needs our healing.

And so this final message is given especially for the ordained clergy. For into our hands has been given the power to heal wounds both moral and spiritual. So, where are your sick call kits, brothers? We have to take seriously the Savior's call to the Sacrament of the Sick and to the Anointing! This is that time when families most need us! This is that time when families, and loved ones, are all gathered to pray, to hope, and to thank God for the gift of life!

With our walking sticks and sandals, let's go!

Fr. Allan S. Fenix 


MIRACLE

I once watched a comedy film in which, during the climactic part, the protagonist and his companions, already cornered by the enemy ready to kill them said, “We need a miracle!” Soon enough, a horse named “MIRACLE” appeared, who ran to their rescue and brought them all to safety.

Can miracles, defined as an unusual and mysterious event that is thought to have been caused by a god, really happen? Because they do not follow the usual laws of nature, can they be measured? Do they come in sizes and quantities?

This might seem simplistic to many. But, I considered it a miracle when a parishioner from far away messaged me that her one lone companion for several years, a blind dog, had since died, and how she wished for a replacement. In the rectory, we had three puppies, but all of them had already been reserved by their future recipients. However, it so happened that at the time I received the message, we were also having our 9-day novena masses to our parochial patron saint. So I messaged her back that I was going to ask the intercession of our patron saint to find a puppy for her. If you really need it, God will give it to you.

I was so sad for that parishioner who was longing for a replacement puppy, that I asked around among those present during the mass if any of them knew of anyone who had some giveaway puppies, but it turned out none of them did.

The next day, while we were cleaning in the church, I happened to talk about it to our volunteers, and one of them replied that he saw some puppies by the corner their house was on. As soon as we finished our activity, the volunteer and I went to the place he mentioned, and the owner of the puppies told us that they were really looking for people to give them away to.

For me, this is a miracle. Everything that happens in our lives is one. This is a very strong proof of Matthew 7: verses 7 and 8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks finds; and the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

The sacred scriptures are full of miracle stories. I would just like to focus on just one:

Jairus, a synagogue official, came forward seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live. Thus, it was not surprising that when He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koumi “, which means, “Little girl, I say to you arise! The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. At that they were utterly astounded. (Mark 5: 22, 41-42).

And also the woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” (Mark 5: 28-29, 33-34).

For me, a prayer answered is already one great big miracle.

Do we have anything to ask for? Just like Jairus and that unknown woman, come on and do it also. As Matthew 7: 7 and 8 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Fr, Allan S. Fenix


BREAKING THE GREAT BARRIER REEF

Who among us can still remember the analog tape cassette player of the ‘70s and up through the ‘80s? I do! As a child, lacking toys around the house, I used to play and tinker around with this lone home appliance of ours.

Beside from the “Play,” “Stop,” “Pause,” “Record,” “Rewind,” and “Fast Forward” buttons, the first one was labeled “EJECT,” which I came to know means to force or throw something out, typically in a violent or sudden way.

With the added letter “R,” it becomes “REJECT.” As a verb, it is used to dismiss as inadequate, inappropriate or not to one’s taste. And, as a noun, it is a person or thing dismissed as failing to meet standards or satisfying tastes.

When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary , and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. (Mark 6: 2-3).

Yes, it is really true that whatever happened in the most ancient of days in the sacred scriptures is continually reverberating up until the present moment. The surrounding circumstances might have totally and greatly changed, but not human nature. If Jesus Christ went through rejection from his own kinspeople, in one way or another, I am sure it also true of us.

Growing up in a far out rural town, as innocent and naïve as I was then, I also used to hear similar words coming from the mouths of those who heard Jesus teach in their synagogue.

Except for some who were born with golden spoons in their mouths, most of us have very humble beginnings. Things were not handed down to us but we have had to work hard for every single item in our possession. Such is a carpenter who either just works contractually or on a per piece basis.

There were many instances but I can clearly remember when my siblings were, one by one, leaving town and city to seek higher learning in the metropolitan area. And when they started to immigrate to find work, from their own words I heard that there were some among our relatives who were against the plan.

Nowadays, thinking back, I see how narrow and limited the worldview of many people around us is; how many of them would like to box and envelope others according to their own worldview and perspectives.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing few sick people by laying his hands on them. (Mark 6: 4-5).

As a matter of consolation, I just keep in mind that if it was even true of Jesus Christ, how much more so of us, mere mortals? We must continue to soldier on breaking the Great Barrier Reef in our midst. If we get rejected once, twice, or thrice, maybe the 100th time we will be accepted.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


STERN to STERN

The readings for today are so timely, as our country is no stranger to natural calamities of various kinds like typhoons, earthquakes, landslides, and storm surges.

The word “stern” gives us two meanings.

Jesus must have been very tired of the crowds, so that when his disciples took him with them in the boat, he was asleep on a cushion in the stern, which is the back end of a ship or boat, when a violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. (Mark 4: 37).

On the other hand, he was stern, serious and disapproving, not kind or cheerful, and he expected to be obeyed when he woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. (Mark 4: 39).

At present, however we ignore his sterness. From the pandemic, to the economy, to our day to day lives, we are overwhelmed with the many negativities happening all around us. Emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and physically, we feel heavily burdened. We feel as though A violent squall has come up, and waves are breaking over the boat, so that it is already filling up. But Jesus is in the stern of our boat asking us, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” (Mark 4: 40).

Jesus at the stern of our lives. He has our backs. He is telling us, as he tells the sea, “Quiet! Be still! Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”

He is being stern to us for everything that bothers us. He is telling us to “Be quiet! Be still!” And, on the other hand, he is also telling us, amidst all our troubles to “Be quiet! Be still!”

As the American songwriter, Bobby McFerrin, said it in his acapella song: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy!” For sure, take it note by note and in the end, like the disciples, we will be filled with great awe and say to one another, “Who then is this whom even the typhoons, earthquakes, landslides, and storm surges obey?”

From stern to stern, don't worry, be happy!

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


FLORA

Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear… It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its blade. (Mark 4: 28, 31).

Before I share my reflection on the Parable of the Seed, I want to mention a news item I read about a person who loves plants and made a very big mistake.

One day, he went away for a long vacation. To help protect his plants from either theft or bad weather, he brought all of them inside the apartment and locked it.

Upon his return after a few months, he was surprised to find the floors, walls, ceilings, and just about everywhere else in his apartment covered by crawling plants. The apartment had become uninhabitable and had to be destroyed so it would not affect the neighboring apartments in the building.

Plants, once we do our part well in raising them will, of their own accord, sprout and grow. Sometimes too much.

Now to our reflection proper:

God plays favorites, too. The Flora, which refers to all the plant life present in a particular region at a certain time, generally the naturally occurring (indigenous) native plants, have a special place in His heart.

For brevity's sake, I only picked three significant incidents in the Old Testament, and also the New Testament, that directly deal with flora. Three because Jesus rose from the dead on the third day.

First, it was the third day of creation:

Then God said: Let the earth bring forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it. And so it happened: the earth brought forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree that bears fruit with its seed in it. God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1: 11-12).

Second, he gave it to our first parent, Adam:

The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. The Lord God gave the man this order: you are free to eat from any trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die. (Genesis 2: 15-17).

Third, God in the burning bush:

There the angel of the Lord appeared to him as fire flaming out of a bush. When he looked, although the bush was on fire, it was not being consumed. So Moses decided, “I must turn aside to look at this remarkable sight. Why does the bush not burn up? When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to look, God called out to him from the bush: Moses! Moses ! He answered, “Here I am.” (Exodus 3: 2-4).

In the New Testament, it is now about the plant by product, wood, and the one directly dealing with it – a carpenter.

First, He came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue:

They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son?” (Matthew 13: 54-55).

And also Mark 6: 3, “Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary…”

Second, as the antithesis of our salvation:

Flinging the money into the temple, he departed and went off and hanged himself. (Matthew 27: 5).

Third, as the instrument of our salvation:

So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. (John 19: 17).

To conclude, we have now circled fully the trunk of the tree. From Adam to the new Adam, Jesus Christ, their one common link is the tree. While the former caused our fallen nature to be sprouted in us as the Original Sin, the latter called forth God in us to be the bud blossoming as Our Salvation.

According to the Christian Apologist, it is likely that Judas hung himself from a tree and after his body began to decompose, either the tree limb broke or someone cut the branch from which he was hanging down to remove his body, causing Judas to fall to the ground.

In 1910, according to James Christian Wall, a British ecclesiologist, in his book Relics of the Passion,“Seth, one of Adam and Eve’s sons, sought relief for Adam when he was sick. Denied the request for a few drops of oil from the Tree of Life, he was given a branch of that tree instead. Upon Adam’s death, Seth planted the branch over his grave, and the tree grew. From that tree, centuries later, was hewn the vertical part of the cross. The crossbar was made of cypress, the piece to rest the feet upon was of palm, and the inscription was written on a piece of olive.”

Inscribed on a piece of olive wood and nailed to the cross – the Tree of Life.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


THE THREE OF LIFE

Then Jesus approached and said to them, “ All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. (Matthew 28: 18-20).

I sleep alone. So every time I close my eyes to sleep, I always ask myself whether I or not I think I will wake up the next day. And the when I do wake up, I tell myself, “It’s a miracle!”

For those of us who have been through the experience of our lives, it can confidently be declared that, indeed and truly, life is one great big miracle! A miracle, as it is filled up with extraordinary events which are inexplicable by natural or scientific laws.

Though we cannot fully understand life in all its many facets, we do know it is there and operates by the principles of the Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

In what way?

If there is life, there is the capacity for…

1. Growth and reproduction.

2. Functional activity.

3. Continued change.

These three aspects of life are equivalent to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

God the Father, the Creator, is in charge of the growth and reproduction happening all around us. He is the originator of everything.

God the Son, the Savior, is the main actor. He became a person like us except for sin. He called his disciples. He lived with them. He taught. He cured. He performed miracles. He carried the Cross. Crucified. Died. Buried. Resurrected. He Sent forth his disciples. He ascended.

God the Holy Spirit, the sanctifier, is the animator who gives way for continued change to occur in our lives until our death.

There they are. The Three – the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit: they are the Three of Life!

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


BOODLE FIGHT

While reflecting on the readings for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, a not-so new word came to mind, “BOODLE FIGHT,” which originated in the Philippine military. It refers to a big pile of food, served in the middle of a really long table, in a mess hall where every hungry soldier eats with their hands symbolizing camaraderie, brotherhood and equality.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?”

The topic of food is a great ice breaker. When there is nothing much more to talk about, aside from the weather, food is always good conversation fodder. Food is a soul binder.

While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. (Mark 14: 22-23).

For all of us, who have been alive for quite awhile now, we have this common experience, whereby rich or poor harvest alike, we have enough to go around and something to eat on the table. The only time when we began to feel food insufficiency was when we started craving for everything we saw and read on advertisements.

Our society became abundant when it became commercial. However, together with material abundance was the gradual feeling of scarcity and wants in the hearts of many. We felt so empty looking at how goods at our supermarkets were immediately gone and wiped out when people were panic buying during the pandemic. The poverty and scarcity in our souls came out.

He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.” (Mark 14: 24-25).

On weekdays and Sundays, the Holy Eucharist is celebrated and made available to us in which our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Saviour, comes down from heaven to be with us for the meal. What a sight to behold! The entire family eating together at just one table.

If the family that prays together, stays together, so it is for the family who happily eats together – they will forever stay together. That’s why the word BOODLE FIGHT now has a new meaning. It is now…

Binding

Others as

One through

Dinner and

Lunch

Engagements with


Food

Immaculately

Gracing the

Holy

Table.


Fr. Allan S. Fenix


ZION*

As a priest, I have lived in the United States for some time and never saw in the people the practice of having their automobile blessed by a priest. While here in the Philippines, especially in my present assignment, never a week passes by without parishioners requesting me to bless the different aspects of their lives; from their newly-opened businesses, homes, automobiles, motorcycles and more.

I have an elementary classmate whose family owns the biggest rice comprada (buying station ) in our area. Though it has been years since we graduated from elementary school, we still keep in touch often.

One day, she bought a million peso plus Rice Harvester machine, which on its initial days of break-in encountered some issues like bumping into concrete, having a broken chain and other mishaps.

Her workers surmised that, perhaps, those issues were occurring because the machine had not been blessed before it was deployed in the field. So, they suggested having it blessed by a priest.

My classmate, knowing that I was just in the next town, contacted and me and coordinated with me on when I might be available to bless her brand-new Rice Harvester machine.

Several times, going to her business riding on my bicycle, the scheduled blessing was cancelled as it was the height of the harvest season. The machine was often away and in use in the middle of the field.

However, one day, finally I was able to bless it when the machine had its rest day. But before that, while I was in front of the machine waiting for my classmate to come out of her office, I happened to peep through their garage and, lo and behold, a motorcycle was buried amidst the clutter staring at me.

When my classmate came out to join me in blessing the machine, I asked her about the dusty motorcycle sitting by their garage. She said that way back in 2008 she bought a very large inventory of items and the company, and, in appreciation, they gave it to her as a gift.

Originally, the motorcycle had a sidecar. It was designed for livelihood activities – to haul goods and passengers.

Seeing no use for the motorcycle, as she only saw the risks involved, she sold the sidecar and left the motorcycle to gather dust in their garage.

When I suggested that, perhaps, I might have the use of it, she immediately, and without further ado, offered it to me complete with the ORCR ( Official Receipt and Certificate of Registration) and, of course, the key.

The registration of the motorcycle had not been renewed for the past 13 years with the Land Transportation Office. And I think the motorcycle was really intended for a priest, as written on its gas tank is the bold, four-letter word “ZION.”*

I only knew the big four motorcycle companies like Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki. But this motorcycle must be from heaven and sent for the use of a priest – me! It took me 13 long years to claim it from the garage of my classmate.

Thanks be to God! You gave me a 150cc ZION TORINO motorcycle!

Fr. Allan S. Fenix

* The Promised Land. The highest point. A citadel that was in the center of Jerusalem.

50

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of WISDOM and UNDERSTANDING, the spirit of COUNSEL and might, the spirit of KNOWLEDGE and the FEAR OF THE LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11: 1-3).

...the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (John 20:20).

During the First Holy Communion of our Grade 3 pupils, they each received a First Holy Communion certificate. During the graduation of the many students, they also each received an academic diploma. Today, Pentecost Sunday, like the disciples, we have to really rejoice for receiving the Holy Spirit.

Indeed, we really have to rejoice for almost completing the major seasons of the liturgical year – from Advent and Christmas to the Lenten and Easter seasons. A small victory but, nonetheless, a milestone for us as we are now half way in the liturgical calendar.

A day after the Pentecost Sunday will immediately follow the 26-week journey through the Ordinary Time.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20: 21).

This is a time to be at peace. A time of laying low, resting and making another gradual preparation. This not-so-long stretch of time will seem to come finally to an end with the arrival of Christ the King Sunday – a Sunday before the First Sunday of Advent and the beginning of another new liturgical year.

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20: 13).

On this Pentecost Sunday, 50 days after Easter Sunday, we did not merely receive a First Holy Communion certificate nor an academic diploma, but the Holy Spirit himself!

As it is also the birthday of our church today. And the Holy Spirit has not only 1, 2 or 3… but 7 gifts for all of us:
    1. Wisdom. The knowledge of and judgment about “divine things “and the ability to judge and direct human affairs according to divine truth.
    2. Understanding. The ability to “see God. “ It is the penetrating insight into the very heart of things, especially those higher truths that are necessary for our eternal salvation.

    3. Counsel. It allows the person to be directed by God in matters necessary for his salvation.
    4. Fortitude. It is the firmness of mind in doing good and in avoiding evil.
    5. Knowledge. The ability to judge correctly about matters of faith and right action.
    6. Piety. It is revering God with filial affection.
7. Fear of the Lord. It is revering God and avoiding separating ourselves from him.

There you are. We have received enough gifts for today. Let us continue reflecting on the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He is in us. He just needs to be activated to be “concretized” in our day to day life.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix

WORDS and WORKS

In school, whenever we do a study about a subject, we are very particular about scope and limitations.

Jesus is a globalist. In Mark 16: 15, the mission to be covered seems so broad and vast – Jesus said to his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

Reflecting on the passage above, nowadays, especially with all the lockdowns and travel restrictions due to the pandemic, how many of us can even go outdoors, let alone go the distance to see and experience other places?

For many of us, like most of the apostles, we are content just to live, grow and die in the same place in which we are born. Most never move out.

With this, the popular environmentalist phrase comes to mind – Think globally, act locally. Yes, like Jesus we have to pray globally but, due to the prevailing circumstances, evangelize locally.

To fulfil this challenging mission, the materials needed to concretize it all are available to us. They are ingrained in us. As it is with our mouths and hands.

With our mouths, we should be able to utter the words of exorcism:

In the Name of Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, strengthened by the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of Blessed Michael the Archangel, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul and all the Saints. and powerful in the holy authority of our ministry, we confidently undertake to repulse the attacks and deceits of the devil.”

And, in our hands, we hold the sword of St. Michael the Archangel to drive out demons.

With our mouths and hands, then, we will speak new languages to be understood and to understand.

With our mouths and hands, we will ward away whatever impedes us from coming closer to our God: “They will pick up serpents with their hands.”

With our mouths and hands, we will work hard to bring healing to a wounded and divided world: “They will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.”

It is not our work – it is the work of God. We only have to do our part well and God will do the rest. He himself said it;

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16: 16).

...and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.” (Mark 16: 18).

Let us take good care of our mouths, in the words it speaks, and our hands, in the works they do.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


A COMMA AND NOT A PERIOD

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15: 13).

St. Teresa of Avila, after going through a number of unfortunate events in her life, heard Jesus say to her, “This is how I treat my friends, to which she replied, “If this is how you treat your friends, it is no wonder you have so few.”

We are always reminded to choose well our friends. According to a motivational speaker, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

The people you spend the most time with shape who you are. They determine what will dominate your conversations and command your attention. They affect which attitudes and behaviors you are regularly exposed to. Eventually you start to think like they think, and even behave like they behave.

So! This is not a drill! This is not a drill! I repeat! This is not a drill!

What is Jesus’ definition of a friend? He/she is someone to whom he has told everything he has heard from the Father. A friend is an extension of the pipeline coming all the way from the Father, who first loves Jesus who, in turn, loves us. In short, a friend of Jesus is at the receiving end of his love.

Because of this, many would like to be a friend of Jesus. Is to be one a status symbol? To be identified with someone bigger than us? Than life? However, be warned that a fatal risk is involved in being one – it entails laying down one’s life for one’s friends!

We have to open and extend ourselves outwardly.  Reach out.  Be vulnerable.  Be ready to get hurt and take the pain.  Be open and not closed – be a comma* and not a period,* as it keeps on accepting one more, and another.

After becoming aware of this, do we still want to be his friend?

"This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” (John 15: 12).

It is very clear from this that the love must be to friends and not only to a single friend – love one and another.  Our love must not be exclusive but inclusive of anyone.

What Is the benefit of being a friend of Jesus?  This is the very best part that most of us are waiting for.  It is very clear from John 15: 16: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.

With Jesus as our friend, we have a white horse.  A sturdy support.  A very strong backer that will find solutions to all of our endless petitions in life.

So, then, be a comma and not a period!

Fr. Allan S. Fenix

* A period ends a sentence. A comma indicates a soft pause, before continuing with the sentence.


EVERYTHING IS USEFUL

Have you ever experienced going camping? As a former member of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, I did. I remember that, after setting up our tents, we spread out farther afield to collect and gather the dried materials lying around to light our campfire and cook our food.

Jesus, an itinerant preacher in his time and at home in the outdoors, said to his disciples, “Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.” (John 15: 6).

Everyone and everything is essential, important and useful. With the discovery of fire, one of the elements of matter, it radically changed our civilization. With the energy coming from it, it powered our modern modes of transportation. We can now travel fast and smoothly. With our sophisticated appliances and gadgets, it also made our lives much more convenient. Our society became more friendlier and livable.

However, fire as we knew it is much more enhanced by... “Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.” (John 15: 6).

Really, everyone and everything is essential, important and useful. There is no garbage.

However, we will be much more than that if we heed what Jesus further said: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” (John 15: 5).

What is the NOTHING that we can do? We can do …

Nary a

One or

Two

Holy but

Impurities and

Negative

Goodness.

Now, let us turn NOTHING into SOMETHING. SOMETHING is the…

Son

Only of

Mary who is

Eternal,

Truth,

Holy and the

Infinite

Nourishment of

Goodness.

One last point!  He also promised: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” (John 15: 7-8).

With this, do we have anything more to ask for?

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


GOD's SHEPHERD

A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10: 11).

As I read the qualities expected of a good shepherd, the image of a Special Forces soldier, a Scout Ranger, emerged in my mind. The work is physically, as well as mentally, challenging. So, whole and entire, he/she must have a very strong body constitution to repeatedly cover and take the bullets for others, and also the extraordinary strength to rise up on his own from the ashes. Precious lives are on the line. No excuses accepted.

I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. (John 10: 14-16).

A good shepherd must also have a sound frame of mind to be able to know his sheep and, in return, his sheep must be able to “dig” him as well. Secondly, he has to be a good influencer, so as to bring back those who are astray. To lead them back to the fold. The shepherd and the sheep must be on the same page.

He/she must be tactful. Their mouths must only speak words that will lead towards a one flock and one shepherd community.

He/ she must have a very deep devotion and faith in the Father:

This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. (John 10: 14, 17).

A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. (John 10: 12).

While on the subject of the military, I also saw what is not a good: the concept of an A.W.O.L. (Absent Without Official Leave) soldier or a deserter materialized in my mind. Being afraid of the different wolves coming to one's life, this example opts for avoidance. He/she follows the path of least resistance. Possessing a good pair of eyes and feet, they are used to merely look for opportunities to get something – anything of benefit to oneself – and then just leave and run away when things are not going his/her way, according to his/her plans and schemes.

This kind of soldier only functions well two days a month – on the 15th and the 30th – the pay dates. Because of this there is no unity and only splinters to show in his life projects.

Which character and personality do you have? That of the good shepherd or that of the not so good one?

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


HAVE A LIFE!

Has anyone told you to “Have a Life”? It means to start living a fuller or more interesting existence.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you”… So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20: 19, 25).

After the crucifixion of Jesus, the disciples were enveloped with fear and doubt. Fear, coupled with doubt, is an effective strategy utilized by some to control human behavior. When people are both fearful and doubtful they tend to limit their activities. They retreat. Runaway. Hide.

For the security industry, fear and doubt are its prime assets. When there is fear and doubt in the hearts and minds of the people, its services are highly sought after. Demand for surveillance cameras, locks, alarms, security guard services rise to an all time high.

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Thomas answered and said to him “My Lord and my God!” (John 20: 20, 28).

While doubt is something internal, fear is external. Just as most of the things we worry about will never actually happen, the same can be said of the things we fear and doubt. Think back and ask yourselves what did you used to fear and doubt the most? Have anything of them already happened? Maybe, one or two, but not all of them.

Have a life! When peace and happiness permeate society, people tend to feel safe and relaxed. They start going out again. They emerge, reconnect and live.

What is life without a purpose? Jesus brought peace to the disciples. They rejoiced, believed and gave it all a mission – a life.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (John 20: 21- 23).

To live is to have a mission. What is your mission in life?

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


CONDOLENCES

In writing messages, we are encouraged to do it briefly, concisely and precisely. For me, sometimes only one word suffices.

As children, we were taught the appropriate single-word greetings for all occasions. Like, when it is a graduation, wedding, or successful exams we can use the word “Congratulations.” On birthdays, it is “Happy Birthday.” And, in the passing away of a person, it is appropriate to say, “Condolences” to the bereaved family.

The three-syllable, ten letter word “condolence” is pregnant and bursting with meaningful messages! Whenever we convey it to a person mourning the death of someone in their family, it simply means to…

Carry

On

Now.

We must not procrastinate, but go on continuing to do the good things we have been doing all along. Time does not wait on anyone. The show must go on...

Doing our

Ordinary

Lives.

We are not being asked to do extraordinary actions. Like in the first phrase above, let us continually carry on doing our day to day activities and routines like taking good care of our family, working for their needs, studying, cleaning, cooking, and running errands…

Embolden by the

Novenas and by

Christ in the

Eucharist.

All throughout the week, there are daily devotions being made in our churches. Like on Wednesdays it is the Novena to the Perpetual Help, on Thursdays the Divine Mercy Chaplet, on Fridays the Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and on Saturdays the Novena to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

And, most of all, all of these devotions must lead us to the ultimate devotion, which is the reception of Jesus Christ, Our Lord, in the Eucharist – the center of our existence.

So the next time you either say to someone, or someone says to you, the word “Condolences,” remember the message it carries – Carry On Now Doing (our )Ordinary Lives Embolden (by the) Novenas (and by) Christ (in the) Eucharist.

A single word suffices.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


HANDS and FEET

Look at my hands and feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have. (Luke 24: 39).

In elementary science, we learned about parasites. A parasite is an animal or plant that lives on, or in, another called the “host,” and it gets its food from it. Like fleas, for example – or lice. For a person, it refers to one who always relies on or makes use of others, and gives nothing in return.

A parasitic person is like a ghost. To be one is so shameful. With no backbone, he (or she) cannot stand alone; cannot be independent. They are totally reliant on others as if they did not have flesh and bones.

And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. (Luke 24: 40).

Let us be grateful for, and proud of, our hands and feet. With them, there are no reasons for us to be spoon-fed. We can use them to work hard; to provide for our own needs and the needs of those still dependent on us, like our growing families. If even many limbless people can do it better than we do, then, for sure, we can also do better then we are doing.

While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. (Luke 24: 41-42).

If we use our hands and feet to work hard, there is always something good that we can give whenever anyone asks us for anything – like the baked fish that the disciples gave Jesus when he asked them for something to eat. Remember, we cannot give what we do not first have!

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15: 5).

However, on the other hand, on the spiritual level, we creatures are truly the parasites who are so dependent and rely mainly on God, the creator who is our host.

Yes, God is our host! And through Him and in Him, we gain the…

Holiness from the

One

Savior who is the

Trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Look at our hands and feet. Are we physically a parasite? No, as we can use them to work for the food we need. Look at our hearts. Are we spiritually parasites? Yes, for apart from Him, we can do nothing!

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


RUNNING

I caught the running fever one day in the past. While unwell in bed, I chanced upon a magazine ad about running, sponsored by a popular running shoe. My attention was caught up and I was hooked forever. It was a road out of unwellness, to a path of health and strength. That was a healthy Easter for me.

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. (John 20:1).

I love the words that fall to me in our reading for this Easter Sunday. They totally encapsulated what is also the season for me. I strongly believe in the saying of Benjamin Franklin: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise.”

Is consistency and regularity in our vocabulary? For one, what time do we usually go to bed and wake up? There are those who go to bed much, much later and, in the same way, wake up later. They wake up when the sun is already high up in the sky.

So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved… (John 20: 2).

Easter is spring. It is the best time of the year to be out for a run and activate the endorphins – the feel good chemicals. Even with the lockdowns happening everywhere around us, when we are told to just stay home, we can still “run” in the confines of our homes by going through our cabinets, closets, drawers and doing a deep spring cleaning. Gather all of your empty containers just lying around. Fill them with good soil. Plant some seedlings. Go through all of your books once again. Cover each of them with plastic or paper. There are a lot of things that we can do to “run” indoors.

So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first. (John 20: 3-4).

Going for a gym membership is chic and stylish. It can also burn a hole in one’s pocket. The outdoors is our wild gym. Wake up early in the morning when the temperature is cool and the roads and parks are still abandoned. With a pair of shoes on, run, walk, jump, do sit ups, push ups…

We cannot give what we do not have. With the pandemic raging around us, while many are getting sick and dying, we need to boost our own immune system for the sake of the others in our family and neighborhoods. We need to prepare ourselves to rise to the occasion. We have to rise from a series of deaths like hunger, joblessness, bankruptcies… brought about by our present situation.

The only and best way to do this is imitating Mary of Magdala, who wakes up early in the morning, while it is still dark and goes running. Also, Simon Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, who went out to run fast and faster. Do this and you will see and believe. We all have to rise from the dead.

This is Easter for me.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix



LAST WORDS

Have you been at the bedside of a dying person? Could you still remember the last words you heard before they breathed their last?

For Jesus, it was like this:

And at three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi lema Sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” ... Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. (Mark 14: 34, 37).

I once watched a documentary about prisoners on death row and their last words before their execution. Even as just a distant viewer, the experience was bone-chilling. Their last utterances kept on repeating themselves in my subconscious.

These last words of Jesus on the cross could also be in the mouth of a person dependently attached to a dialysis machine, a respirator or some other life-prolonging equipment.

If Jesus has the cross, and the many who are sick among us have their dialysis machines, their respirators, or some other life-prolonging equipment, what kind of crosses do we have which afford us to also shout like Jesus, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Maybe it's found with the kind of relationships we have within our families, marriage, or work and business, when we are in the doldrums. Or, maybe, it is in our own selves. We are our own worst problem - our own cross. We ourselves are carrying our own cross, and crucifying our selves.

When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 14: 39).

At this point, let us ask ourselves: are there any differences in how a Christian and a non-Christian handle their problematic circumstances? Any distinctions in how we handle our lot? Will it be like how the centurion declared it? “Truly this person is a Christian? ...or a non-Christian?”

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


THE ANNUNCIATION

Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.” (Luke 1: 30-31).

What is the Annunciation?

Besides being the first decade of the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, prayed on Mondays and Saturdays, the12-letter word “Annunciation” can be summed up as the...

Archangel

Notifying the

Nativity to

Unite the

Nations who is

Christ

Iesus* with the

Apostles to

Truthfully

Instruct and

Organize the

Neglected...

...that they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17: 21).

The 12 letters symbolize the 12 apostles, who were given the instruction:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28: 19).

Fr. Allan S. Fenix

* In Latin, the letters “I” and “J” are interchangeable.


MARGIN

Do any of us have any idea of what eternal life is?

According to the scriptural passage John 12: 25, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.”

Many myopic economists, politicians, big businesses, and even private individuals point their fingers at the Catholic Church for the still ongoing existence of global poverty.

According to them, if people, the consumers, hate their lives in this world, who will still patronize their goods and wares? The cycle of commerce would cease moving. There would no longer be the law of supply and demand. Everything would be considered as losses. Bankruptcies would skyrocket. Of course, this is an extreme opinion.

In the commercial world, the wants of the people – the level of love for the many among us – are the oil that lubricates the wheels of the industry. So, more wants mean more demands – and more business. And more profits. It is good for their margins. More returns on their capital and investment. So, for their sake, they ask, “Please follow your wants!” And many of us love it.

On the other hand, this same passage – “Whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life” – goes against the core values of the business world, as it inculcates the virtue of delayed gratification.

Delayed gratification is the resistance to the temptation of an immediate pleasure in the hope of obtaining a valuable and long-lasting reward in the long-term. In business, what is important is immediately responding to our wants right at that very moment, “In just a click, we will deliver.” Delayed gratification is very futuristic; what is more important is in the coming days – eternal life.

The reward of eternal life is that, “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.” (John 12: 26).

For emphasis, God further said, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” (John 12: 28).

In everything, there is a margin. A gap. A space. For the material world, love for it results in losses. On the other hand, in the economy of eternal life, hate for this world leads to preservation.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


MOUNT CALVARY AT 3 PM

From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’çlock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit. (Matthew 27: 45-46, 50).

At what time of the day were crucifixions usually carried out on Mount Calvary? Were they done in the early morning hours? Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, was crucified at noon and died at 3 PM. “PM” is the abbreviation of the Latin phrase “Post Meridiem meaning “after midday.” It was towards the end of the day, right before his executioners clocked out for the day - all in a day’s work… Darkness.

Why in the PM? This is the verdict:

The light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. (John 3: 19-20).

They operate under the shroud of darkness.

Recently, I went to our nearby Land Transportation Office to renew my driver’s license, and noticed piles and piles of motorcycles, in different forms and dis-configurations, beside the building.

According to a person I talked with, those piles of motorcycles were all impounded due to various traffic violations ranging from its being unregistered, figuring in an accident, used for crimes and theft, or unprescribed modifications. I remember overhearing people in our villages saying that most motorbikes plying their area were unregistered and they, themselves, don’t possess any license. They merely operate within and around their neighborhood and stay at the periphery far from the downtown where traffic enforcers might immediately apprehend them. Or they stay in the woods.

There was also a closed van with the words boldly printed on its body: “Fish Dealer.” It usually “delivered” its goods at night, as it usually carried hot logs – illegally cut wood.

But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.” (John 3: 21).

Jesus Christ has already made the most extraordinary sacrifice to save us. And so, we are saved not by any other dramatic events, but by the execution of our ordinary day to day activities, like going to the market, to school, to the clinic, and volunteering. Activities done in the light of the day time.

As Romans chapter 13, verses 13 and 14, succinctly said it:

Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.”

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


THE BODY BY GOD

I am a public commuter. I love to ride on our public transportation, like the trimobiles, jeepneys and buses. I like to read the signs and markings I find around on them, like “The Body by (followed by the name of the motor shop which made the body of that particular vehicle).

The word temple, which is a building reserved for religious or spiritual rituals and activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, is a generic term. Commonly, it is referred to as a church, mosque or synagogue. Size wise, the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem was so big and wide that Jesus even referred to it as a “marketplace”:

Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” (John 2: 13-16).

Even the Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” (John 2: 20).

From all these, we learned that a temple is a center of faith and life for the people. A place for gatherings which, in our present circumstances of the Covid 19 pandemic, is being challenged, as we were told to maintain social distancing and big celebrations are not encouraged.

The simple, single syllable three letter word “big,” defined as of considerable size, extent or intensity, is in Jesus. We have a BIG person who is Jesus. Because “BIG” means a “Body Incorporating Generations.”

Incorporating is from the Latin word CORPUS meaning body. “Incorporates” means to take in or contain or include as part of a whole.

Generations refers to all of the people born and living at about the same time regarded collectively.

The Body of Jesus is not simply, nor just a single generation, as it includes all the past generations, as well the present generations and the future generations. Jesus is yesterday, and the present and the future also.

And so, this Church, this Body of Jesus, is not by any of the motor body shops around, but was built by God, Who gives us good order amidst death and destruction.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


ATOP THE MOUNTAIN

He took with him Peter, James and John, and began to be troubled and distressed. (Mark 14: 33).

In the same way that Peter, James and John were with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, these three were also with him atop Mount Tabor during his transfiguration - Jesus took Peter, James and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves… (Mark 9: 2).

Why the “perennial” three? Where were his other nine apostles? Was this favoritism? We don’t like favoritism in our families, in our schools, in our society, or in our church. It is divisive.

Jesus was with the three aforementioned apostles at a very crucial phase of his public ministry, as they played a very significant role in forming his church. He assured them he would never abandon them, teaching them, “...to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 20).

So what about these three disciples?

  1. Peter symbolized the church. “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18).

    His three suggested tents were like heaven: “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” (John 14: 2-3).

  2. James was the elder brother of John, who proclaimed the gospel after Jesus’ resurrection and was the first apostle to be martyred for his faith. The blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church. Martyrdom is dynamism. Without it, the church, as the body of Christ, is stagnant. It would just be another institution which was founded, grew, reached its peak and faded away. Martyrdom is a way of life in the church founded by Christ.

  3. John. For him, the church is Marian. It is a very distinctive characteristic of the church. At the foot of the cross… “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, 'Woman, here is your son;' and to the disciple, 'Here is your mother.' From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19: 26).

Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. (Mark 9: 5).

And, what about Elijah and Moses?

  1. Elijah, meaning “Yahweh is my God,” proved the existence of heaven. “As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.” 2 Kings 2: 11.

  2. Moses, the lawgiver, met God face to face on Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. The church, the body of Christ, which is both a secular and heavenly institution, is ruled by law. We live under the law and will be saved by both the law and love. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

The transfiguration on Mount Tabor was about taking all of us back with Jesus to heaven. That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17: 21).

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


DESERT FOODS

And he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. (Mark 1: 13).

If the Christmas season is a time of giving in to the physical pleasures that we can derive from food and fun, and in giving out gifts to others, then the season of Lent is a time of giving up such pleasures. It is a time to be a great gift to our own selves. It is a time to only focus on the self. To be selfish once in a while.

For one example, on Ash Wednesday, as the ash was imposed on us, we heard the words, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” The ash was ours alone. It was a very personal experience. We cannot share it with others. We cannot reimpose it on our family when we go back home.

To repent and to believe is in the internal forum – a private space. We might be able to verbally share it with others, but the decision to act upon it depends on each person. I cannot repent nor believe for you. You have to do it on your own and the others have to do it on their own. Each of us needs to decide whether to truly repent and believe in the gospel or not. It is like a very sumptuous food was prepared and laid out for us on the table. However, it is up to us whether we partake of it or not.

What kind of spiritual foods have been laid on our table? There are three:

1. The temptation of Satan. It is just a sweet invitation to act upon or not, and not yet a full-blown sin. It is a desire to do something wrong or unwise. The temptations can come in the form of:

A. Lust, which is a strong passion or longing especially for sexual desires.

B. Gluttony, which is an excessive and ongoing eating of food or drink.

C. Greed, which is an excessive pursuit of material goods.

D. Sloth, which is an excessive laziness or the failure to act and utilize one’s talents.

E. Wrath, which is a strong anger and hate towards another person.

F. Envy, which is the intense desire to have an item that someone else possesses.

G. Pride, which is an excessive view of one’s self without regard for others.

2. The wild beast diet. Animals operate on the instinctive level which is an innate, typically fixed pattern of behavior in response to certain stimuli. So, without even a second thought, the animal would, at an instinctive level, immediately feast on the “food of least resistance.” It would gobble up the foods of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride.

3. Angelic Foods – the food of the gods such as:

A. Chastity or self control, which cures lust by controlling passion and leveraging that energy for the good of others.

B. Temperance, which cures gluttony by implanting the desire to help others above storing up treasure for one’s self.

C. Diligence, or zeal which cures slothfulness by placing the interest of others above a life of ease and relaxation.

D. Patience, which cures wrath by putting first the needs and desires of others before acting or speaking.

E. Humility, which cures pride by removing one’s ego and boastfulness and therefore, allowing the attitude of service.

“…and the angels ministered to him.” Come on! Do yourself a favor! In this season of Lent, subsist on a diet of angelic food.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix



HEALING

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” (Mark 1: 40).

Be it something with regards to our health, finances, relationships, work, or education, most usually we would like to put our hands on the things in our lives. We are content and happy when we are in control of the various aspects of our lives. But what if suddenly everything becomes uncontrollable and like a runaway train? For one example among others, what about getting so terribly sick that we cannot do anymore what we routinely did? What if someone needs to be with us 24/7 to feed, to clean, to move us around? For sure, we would be in a terrible state of suffering!

As we are about to begin a new liturgical season (Lent), we should like the leper, approach, kneel down and beg our Lord, Jesus Christ. “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Let us once again together with our Lord, Jesus Christ, gain control of our lives!

Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. (Mark 1: 41-42).

The glory of God is in the human person fully alive. Just as we treasure the youth for their picture of vibrancy and health, so too we would like to be returned to our normal selves – independent, strong and able to take good care of ourselves.

He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed: that will be proof for them.” (Mark 1: 44).

Let us go to church, offer and pray. At this point, I remember our Chinese grandfather who had the ability to heal dog bites by performing some rituals he brought from their old country.

In our town, there were a lot of stray dogs. And so, there were a lot of dog bite cases. He was immediately the go-to person, as he offered his services charges free. However, after performing the ritual he would advise his patients to go buy two candles, which could usually be found in our father's convenience store, and light them at the nearby parish church. So, during the daytime when people would come to our convenience store to buy two candles, we would immediately know that they were dog bite patients just cured by now our uncle, to whom that healing ability had been passed on.

The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere. (Mark 1: 45).

With all those free of charge dog-bite healing rituals performed by our grandfather and uncle, their patients felt a certain debt of gratitude, and that resulted in their being consistent winners as municipal councillors. Through this free of charge public service, people in our hometown and elsewhere got to know them. They became word of mouth popular. And come elections, their names were always recognizable and they earned the top votes.

In our Filipino language, the word hiling, which sounds like the English word “healing,” means “to request,” and in our local dialect it means “to see.” And so, let us come to Jesus, kneel down and hiling (request) of him, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” And, sure enough, we will hiling (see) a genuine healing of our body, soul and of our whole lives. HiIing (requesting) healing, hiling (to see) the wonderful workings of God in our lives!

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


PURPOSE AND MISSION

Our gospel reflection for today is so timely, especially during this time of the pandemic when many are getting sick, are tired or have died. So I divide it into three parts:

1. As charity begins at home, so does the healing process. Jesus showed this to his disciples. On leaving the synagogue, Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. (Mark 1: 29-30).

Simon’s mother in law was in a horizontal position. A negative sign (-). A sign of being weak and fallen. So, Jesus transformed the horizontal position to the vertical – a position of strength. “He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.” (Mark 1: 31).

2. “When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.” (Mark 1: 32-33).

With their position of strength, he showed them that their purpose and mission was not domestically limited to be just within their families, but it must also go out to others.

3. Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you. He told them, 'Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.' So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.” (Mark 1: 35-39).

Our purpose and mission must be coupled to a strong prayer life. We have to plug in to the main source of life and strength so that we can continue pursuing our purpose and mission to others and far beyond.

Charity begins at home and must end towards the others outside. Or else, in electrical terms, there will be a ground. We will lose track and forget why we are doing what we are doing. We will electrocute and burn ourselves out in the process of fulfilling our purpose and mission.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES?

A day after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, on the first day of the Ordinary Time which was the 11th of January, 2021, we heard the following words: “This is the time of fulfilment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.” (Mark 1: 15).

Then on the Third Sunday, the 24th of January, it was once again reiterated. And in a little more than three weeks later, on the 17th of February, we will once again hear those words repeatedly, as ashes are being imposed on our foreheads. It is again the start of the Lenten season – 40 days of preparation towards the Holy Week.

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen… He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. (Mark 1: 16, 19).

A good preparation is half the work. We all know that a good preparation greatly defines the outcome of any of our activities and plans. And, of course, the first step is the gathering of the proper materials and appropriate personnel. And so, we saw Jesus calling his four disciples, who were fisher folks.*

Why them? There are three possible reasons.

First, it is obvious that the mission is to be done and fulfilled in the great outdoors, and fisher folks were exactly seasoned for such an activity. Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Matthew 8: 20).

Second, fisher folks are Marian. Ordinarily, common fisher folks do not use a compass, or other high technology based navigation equipment, to guide them while they are on the wide open sea. They look up at the stars. At the Maristelas – the stars of the sea. They look up to the Blessed Virgin Mary!

When Jesus saw his mother and his disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, here is your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” So from that hour, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19: 26-27).

Third, familiarity with water. The mission involves a lot of travelling, most especially by sea voyage. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28: 19).

The glory of God is man fully alive.

Are you fond of fish? Nowadays, with all the Foot and Mouth diseases, and African Swine Flu, heavily affecting both our poultry and pork industry respectively, there is nothing more safe to consume than the humble fish, which contains a lot of healthy nutrients to make us hardy and strong like the first disciples.

And when we are so, we will also be good material, ready to succeed as disciples of our Lord, Jesus Christ. It takes a lot of courage and strength to do what the first disciples did:

Then they abandoned their nets and followed him… Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him. (Mark 1: 18, 20).

Do you have what it takes to be Jesus’ disciple?

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


* The occupations of the other disciples were unknown.

LITTLE ONES


People were bringing children to Jesus that he might touch them… “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Mark 10: 13, 14).

In the news recently, there was a country reported where the death rate outpaced the birth rate. If that trend should continues, it was projected that after a certain period of time that nation would undergo a population decline.

In the past, and even today, I used to hear people say, “If one does not get married and have a family, no one will take care of you in your old age or when you get sick and eventually die.

Who wants to die alone? All alone with no one. For sure, no one would want to. But, what if one has no one really to call a child of one's own? Like me. Who will be with me at my death bed when the time comes? I, for one, don’t want to die all alone. However, I was just thinking, nowadays, when everything is getting commercialized, and everything is coming with a price tag on it, can there soon be a child for hire, too?

Children are gradually becoming an endangered species. Good or bad, it comes at a cost. By and by, no one wants to raise one, as it is becoming more and more pricey. For many, having children is the last of their priorities. Individuals have to keep up to meet a high standard of living. Our environment right now gives no provisions, or if there is, it makes it too difficult and hard to have children. So, many forego having any. Thus, we see a population decrease.

All of us, before we became what we are now in the present, have been children. Children are our extension from the past who push us into the future. Just as children nowadays did not see what their great grandparents, grandparents, and parents went through, like the war, the oil crisis, and so on, so these great grandparents, grandparents, and parents wont also be able to experience what their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren will do in their time. For example, I grew up in the time of typewriters. Where are typewriters now? In museums! Computers are still a thing to discover and learn about for me.

Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them. (Mark 10: 16).

Just as Jesus blessed the water at his baptism, so do our children – all of us at one time or another. We are all blessed children! As Matthew 18: 10 said it, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

Fr. Allan S. Fenix


LIQUID GOLD

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. (Mark 1:9).

There is a desert restaurant that advertised itself this way – all the water you can drink for just $XYZ. Come One! Come All! In that restaurant, they served nothing but water, water and only water. Do you think this business model will be viable? If it is located in the desert, maybe!

We need more water than any other natural resource around us, and it is becoming more and more prohibitively expensive by the day. Just look at your monthly water bill, or even just the market price of a single bottle of water.

I am so happy to be in a place where there is a lot of water. In the past, a lot of resources were invested just to extract it out of the earth. Like a water pump that consumes a substantial amount of electricity just to bring up water, with mud-like residues, from the deep ground for our washing purposes. Walking a short distance just to fetch potable water, or buying it from a store by the gallon, is a blessing. There were times in which we had to limit the water we drank and used.

Nowadays, with the La Nina phenomenon, which produces a lot of rainfall, we have more and more water around. As it is of great benefit to many of us – more and more opportunities to take a bath and wash ourselves. It is also a big liability to many, especially to farmers and planters. There are also cases of mudslides and flooding.

As there are people who curse not having a single drop of water, there are also people who curse having too much of it! Sometimes, too much of a good thing is also bad, isn’t it? But still, we have to remember that water is the most precious mineral resource around. With only water, can we still be healthy, wealthy and wise.

On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1: 10-11).

Plenty or not enough, do not curse the water! Among the myriad of our natural resources, it was most especially blessed by God, the Father.

We can save a lot of money and be rich. A lot of our ailments are caused by the lack of water in our body. Drink a lot of it. It is a natural medicine. It was blessed by God, the Father.

Let's get back to the basics. With a lot of water around, it is also an invitation for us to harness it as a natural energy source. If we have solar energy now, we can also have hydro energy like the people of yore.

Come on. Don’t be a “Lazy Susan.” Only babies are spoon-fed!

Let us be thankful for the plenty of water around us. And let us be thankful that we have God and we can freely worship Him!

Fr. Allan S. Fenix

QUIET!  COME OUT OF HIM!”

Today, I am going to do an outside of the box reflection, using the words coming directly from the devil’s mouth, as found in Mark 1: 24. Although it would seem unbecoming for me to do so, just read on, as even the devil has something to teach us.

1. What have you to DO with us, Jesus of Nazareth?

No one wants to be idle. Idleness is the playground of the devil. The moment our mind, heart, soul and life gets empty, the devil will come and takeover and destroy us. He will make our lives his favorite sandlot.

So, every evening right before we close our eyes to sleep, we plan out whatever we wish to do the next day and the moment we open our eyes we again call to mind our business plans for that day. All throughout that day, we keep on updating and revising our plans.

2. Have you COME to destroy us?

To come is to respond. In the gospel reading, we saw the three ways by which Jesus, the people, and even the devil, came and responded to the call of God.

Then they CAME to Capernaum, and on the sabbath Jesus ENTERED the synagogue and TAUGHT. (Mark 1: 21).

A. Let us ask ourselves these questions: Do we try to live as role models for others, especially the young ones? Do we teach others through our actions?

B. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. (Mark 1: 22).

Big and small, do we appreciate the things offered and given to us? Are we even grateful for them? To be happy is to have a grateful heart.

C. The unclean spirit CONVULSED him and with a loud cry CAME OUT of him! (Mark 1: 26).

Love is not love unless it is shared. Knowledge is not real unless taught to others. Wealth is immaterial unless philanthropically given away. What things move us to bravely share what we have with others?

3. I KNOW who you are – the Holy One of God!

Your best friend is your worst enemy. Take note that the devil was one of the fallen angels. They were once the best friends of God. They knew the ins and outs of heaven. They became negative (-), and fallen, but never did they forgot about the positive (+), the cross – Jesus Christ.

How much do we know Jesus Christ? According to St. Jerome, ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ. Do we even take the initiative to get to know him through the sacred scriptures, the sacraments and, most of all, the human persons who are his own creation, made in his own image and likeness?

Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” (Mark 1: 25).

The band Tears for Fears sung, “Shout! Shout! let it all out. These are the things I can do without. Come on. I’m talking to you, come on…”

Get it all out my dear brothers and sisters! Don’t keep all the plans for your lives in. Respond with gratefulness to achieve genuine happiness. And most of all, share. Share and share it with others. If we sincerely do it, just like in the gospel, we will hear and witness the following results:

All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee. (Mark 1: 27-28).

Fr. Allan S. Fenix