Thank you so much for your massive outpouring of compassion & generosity in creating so many boxes of relief materials and supplies for our destitute brothers and sisters in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). I have received reports of dozens of boxes being packed and shipped by individuals and groups, including 35 boxes prepared by Cursillistas and parishioners of St. Andrew Church in Daly City, CA. Special thanks to LBC for graciously shipping all of these boxes for free to the Philippine Red Cross for distribution to the needy victims (their free offer continues through November 30, 2013). May God bless you all abundantly with His grace, peace, and joy for your kindness to others in their greatest time of need.
Deacon Bobby Peregrino, the Spiritual Advisor for the Sacramento Filipino Cursillo community, has kindly shared his homily for last Sunday’s Mass on November 17, 2013. Its message is very timely and reassuring. You may read below.
-Deacon Ben Agustin
Homily for Cycle C - 33rd ORDINARY - NOVEMBER 17, 2013 - Luke 21:5-19
Most, if not all of you, know of and must have seen on TV the massive destruction of lives and properties in Central Philippines because of the strongest typhoon that ever made landfall in recorded history. It is just an overwhelming heart-breaking tragedy – to say the least. Just a few weeks ago, there was a major 7.2 earthquake also in the area…
People lost everything they had – including their loved ones.
We grieve the lives of those who died and we cannot fathom the misery of the survivors who suffered and continue to suffer hunger and thirst, injury, infections, psychological trauma, horrible and desperate living conditions.
Having said that - this tragedy, disaster - point up to one truth: the transient or passing nature of things in this world. Nothing lasts.
Jesus spoke of this in today's Gospel. The disciples were celebrating the beauty of the temple. And Jesus said: "These things which you see shall not be left one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." He was referring to the temple… although we can say – it also literally happened in Tacloban and other areas. The truth that He spoke applies to all worldly things . They may last a long time, but eventually, they will be gone.
This realization causes a certain amount of anxiety about the future and it is natural and understandable. The future is full of uncertainty and if we are not careful and if we become so preoccupied with questions about the future, we become vulnerable to those who prey on such anxiety.
Despite the claims of many, no one can really tell us with certainty what will happen tomorrow. Specific events of the future are not pre-determined, and our own free choices help shape the future.
The Good News is - Through the Incarnation of God – God becoming One of us in Jesus Christ, God has entered time and history. Christ sheds light on the future. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end… and this sets the future in its proper context. Meaning – we now have this great hope because – in Christ - All things move toward the fulfillment of the plans and purposes of God. The end belongs to God.
We cannot see very far into the future. Abraham Lincoln said “the best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” Twelve-Step programs prescribe “one day at a time” as the best way to managing the challenges of life. Similarly - Faith must be lived one day at a time.
Jesus’ instruction was that the disciples should live each day fully prepared for the coming of God’s kingdom. Each day is a gift from God, and we are to live each day to the fullest in service to the world in Christ’s name.
We are not guaranteed years or months or even days… Tomorrow may never come. What we have is one moment in time. It is a treasure because it will never come again. What we do with each moment of time is our gift to God.
When people asked Jesus for some reassurance from Him about their future, He gave them one simple response. Live faithfully now and you will be prepared for whatever the future brings!
Faithfulness means that we must persevere through the good and the bad, the easy and the difficult times. Living daily life in a faithful way means that we choose to embrace whatever comes our way. We live in each moment without backing away. It is that faithfulness that will prepare us for the coming events of our lives.
Faith is not a matter of speculating about the future but living faithfully in the present moment reality. We are to live wisely and responsibly, being faithful stewards of our days, our gifts, and our opportunities. We don’t know how much time any one of us has left.
The more important question is this - Have you done your best with the gifts you’ve been given? If not - Then here is good news - You are still alive and therefore – it is no time for idleness. It is time to do the work of God’s kingdom.
The purpose of life – of living - is to find faithful, redemptive, loving ways to give what we have been given back to God. And God will make us adequate for all that lies ahead - - - until the very end.
Jesus is clear and consistent about the future. He says that it will include the good and the bad. We will have suffering and gladness. At times, we will feel extremely full and blessed, and at times we will feel so empty and abandoned. Jesus is very clear that we will not be able to predict any more than that. Fear is useless. All we need is trust… faith in God.
Only if we live- in the NOW - will we be ready for whatever the future brings. We cannot put our trust in wealth, health, possessions, beautiful buildings, in power, in weapons, etc. Our perseverance in faith, to God and one another, is what will be our saving grace. As we heard in the Gospel, “by your perseverance, you will secure your lives.”
These are truly times of trials and struggles… but we are assured that they will come to pass. What is being tried is our willingness to be who we profess to be. So - can we be a sign of hope in these times? Can we hope, not in the signs of power or material possessions or wealth or health, but can we hope and can we be signs of faithfulness and love?
God is a loving Father. He has showered us with blessings beyond our perceptions and understanding.
As we get closer to the end of the liturgical year – Feast of Christ the King next Sunday - we are challenged and asked to examine our own lives. Do we really spend enough time thanking God with our words and actions. How much time each day do we spend in prayer, how much time do we spend helping others?
As we come to the table of the Lord – to enter into communion with Him and with one another, let us reflect and give real thought to what has happened in the Philippines. Let us learn from the tragedy.