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18th Sunday B

What is your favorite food? Often we have something that we simply cannot skip on our dining table.  Italians have their pasta.  Japanese like their food raw and Koreans hot.  Americans are known for their hamburger.  And Filipinos, even if they do have various regional favorite dishes, are united in their loyalty to rice – from breakfast to dinner, not to mention snacks!
Again, our Scripture readings bring our attention to food.  The grumbling of the Israelites in the desert prompted the Lord to bring them quails at night and a mysterious bread called “manna” in the morning (Exodus 16).  The responsorial psalm summarizes their experience as “the Lord gave them bread from heaven.”  In the gospel (John 6) we see the crowd in pursuit of Jesus because he has multiplied bread and fish.  But Jesus clarifies the meaning of the miracle. God wants people to notice not the earthly bread but the True Bread from heaven.  Jesus introduces himself as the Bread of Life.
For many people around the world the staple food is bread.  Filipinos are not as avid bread eaters as we are rice consumers.  However, we can still translate this into our own experience by understanding the bread mentioned in the readings as favorite food. God brings to men and women their favorite food, the food they cannot do without.  Truly he answers our needs.
Where do we get this favorite food today?  The answer is, from the Eucharist.  We return to the Eucharist every Sunday to be nourished at the table of the Word and the table of the Bread of Life. Many people are beginning to discover their need for their soul’s favorite food and are turning to God for this special gift of grace, to know Jesus Christ and make him the center of their hearts.
But when we speak of the Living Bread, we cannot escape the fact that so many Catholics have already abandoned the weekly feast.  Why is this so? I know a boy who grew up on chocolates and peanut butter and does not crave for rice. Just so, many people were not led early in life to appreciate the Eucharist. A friend discovered vegetarian meals and now avoids all meat.  In the same way, some people discover other passions late in life and forget what once was central to their lives. Or we may be here present but our hearts are pining for other things.
As Catholics though, we come to the Eucharist proclaiming its central role in our daily life.  Receiving Jesus has a different effect on our lives:  “whoever comes to me will never hunger.  Whoever believes in me will never thirst.”  This is our favorite food, the perfect food, because we bring before Jesus our hunger and thirst for the meaningful things in life, and he does not disappoint us in our quest.
As we worship this Sunday and receive from God the True Bread from heaven, Jesus Christ our Lord, let us renew our commitment to entrust to him all our longings and aspirations.  Let us also pray that others who have turned to other food may rediscover what they are missing and may we be instrumental to lead them back to the favorite food of our souls.


Choosing Life, Rejecting the RH Bill (CBCP: 30 January 2011)
On this matter of proposed RH bills, these are our firm convictions:
1. We are deeply concerned about the plight of the many poor, especially of suffering women, who are struggling for a better life and who must seek it outside of our country, or have recourse to a livelihood less than decent.

2. We are pro-life. We must defend human life from the moment of conception or fertilization up to its natural end.

3. We believe in the responsible and natural regulation of births through Natural Family Planning for which character building is necessary which involves sacrifice, discipline and respect for the dignity of the spouse.

4. We believe that we are only stewards of our own bodies. Responsibility over our own bodies must follow the will of God who speaks to us through conscience.

5. We hold that on the choices related to the RH bill, conscience must not only be informed but most of all rightly guided through the teachings of one’s faith.

6. We believe in the freedom of religion and the right of conscientious objection in matters that are contrary to one’s faith. The sanctions and penalties embodied in the proposed RH bill are one more reason for us to denounce it.
As religious leaders we have deeply and prayerfully reflected on this burning issue. We have unanimously made the moral judgment – to reject the RH agenda and to choose life.
1. We call for a fundamental transformation of our attitudes and behavior towards all human life especially the most defenseless, namely, human life being formed or being conceived. The cheapness with which many seem to consider human life is a great bane to our religious-oriented nation.

2. We call upon our legislators to consider the RH bill in the light of the God-given dignity and worth of human life and, therefore, to shelve it completely as contrary to our ideals and aspirations as a people. We thank our legislators who have filed bills to defend human life from the moment of conception and call upon all other legislators to join their ranks.

3. We thank the great multitude of lay people all over the country, and particularly the dedicated groups who made their presence felt in the halls of Congress, to defend and promote our position. We call upon other lay people and adherents of other religions to join the advocacy to defend and promote our commonly shared ideals and aspirations.

4. We call on our government to address effectively the real causes of poverty such as corruption, lack of social and economic services, lack of access to education and the benefits of development, social inequities.

5. We call for the establishment of more hospitals and clinics in the rural areas, the deployment of more health personnel to provide more access to health services, the building of more schools, the provision of more aid to the poor for education, and the building of more and better infrastructures necessary for development.

6. We echo the challenge we prophetically uttered 25 years ago at EDSA 1 and call upon all people of good will who share our conviction: “…let us pray together, reason together, decide together, act together, always to the end that the truth prevail” over the many threats to human life and to our shared human and cultural values. 

We commend our efforts against the RH bill (or the Responsible Parenthood bill – its new name) to the blessing of our almighty and loving God, from whom all life comes and for whom it is destined.
Ang Aming Mga Pinaninindigan 
Hinggil sa mga iminumungkahing RH Bill, ito ang aming mga matitibay na paninindigan:
1. Kami ay labis na nagmamalasakit sa katatayuan ng maraming mga mahihirap, lalo na ang mga nagdurusang kababaihan na nagsusumikap upang gumanda ang buhay at kailangang mangibang-bayan upang kamtin ito o kailangang pumasok sa isang hindi disenteng paghahanap-buhay

2. Kami ay para sa buhay. Dapat naming ipagsanggalang ang buhay ng tao mula sa sandali ng ito ay ipaglihi o mabuo hanggang sa natural na katapusan nito.

3. Naniniwala kami sa mapanagutan (responsable) at natural na pagsasayos ng bilang at panahon ng pagsisilang sa pamamagitan ng Natural Family Planning; dito kailangan ang pagbuo ng matatag na kalooban na nagtataglay ng sakripisyo, disiplina at paggalang sa dangal ng asawa.

4. Naniniwala kami na tayo ay mga tagapangasiwa lamang ng ating mga katawan. Ang pananagutan sa ating katawan ay dapat umalinsunod sa kalooban ng Diyos na nangungusap sa atin sa pamamagitan ng budhi.

5. Pinaninindigan namin na sa mga pagpili kaugnay sa RH Bill, ang budhi ay hindi lamang may sapat na kabatiran kundi higit sa lahat ay ginagabayan ng mga itinuturo ng kanyang pananampalataya.

6. Naniniwala kami sa kalayaan sa relihiyon at sa karapatan ng pagtutol ayon sa buhdi sa mga bagay na labag sa sariling pananampalataya. Ang mga nakapataw at parusa na napapaloob sa minumungkahing RH Bill ay dahilan para sa aming pagtutol dito.
Mga Panawagan Namin
Bilang mga namumuno sa larangan ng relihiyon, pinaglimi namin nang malaliman at sa panalangin ang mainit na usaping ito. Nagkakaisa naming narating ang pasyang moral na tutulan ang nilalayon ng RH Bill at piliin ang buhay.
1. Nananawagan kami para sa isang pundamental na pagpapanibago ng ating mga kaisipan at gawi kaugnay ng buhay ng tao, lalung-lalo na ang mga hindi makapagtatanggol sa sarili, ito ay ang buhay ng tao na nabubuo o ipinaglilihi. Ang hindi pagbibigay ng karampatang halaga sa buhay ng tao ay isang malaking kapintasan sa ating bansa na nakakiling sa relihiyon.

2. Nananawagan kami sa mga mambabatas na tingnan ang RH Bill sa liwanag ng buhay ng tao na nagtataglay ng dangal at halaga na galing sa Diyos. At dahil dito isasaingtabi na ito nang lubusan bilang labag sa ating mga pagpapahalaga at hangarin bilang isang bansa. Pinasasalamatan namin ang mga mambabatas na naghain ng mga panukalang batas na nagtatanggol sa buhay ng tao mula sa sandali na ito ay ipaglihi. Tinatawagan namin ang iba pang mga mambabatas na sumama sa kanilang hanay.

3. Pinasasalamatan namin ang napakaraming mga laiko sa buong bansa, lalung-lalo na ang mga grupong masisigasig na tumungo sa Kongreso upang ipagtanggol at itaguyod ang aming paninindigan. Nananawagan kami sa iba pang mga layko at tagasunod ng mga ibang relihiyon na sumama sa pagsusulong ng pagtatanggol at pagtataguyod ng ating mga sama-samang tinatanghal na mga pagpapahalaga at adhikain.

4. Nananawagan kami sa ating pamahalaan na mabisang tugunan ang mga tunay na dahilan ng kahirapan gaya ng katiwalaan, kakulangan ng mga serbisyong panlipunan at pangkabuhayan, kakulangan ng pagkakataon sa edukasyon at mga kapakinabangan ng kaunlaran, at di pagkakapantay-pantay sa lipunan.

5. Nananawagan kami para sa pagtatayo ng mga pagamutan at klinika sa mga kanayunan, sa pagkakaroon ng mga dagdag na tauhan sa larangan ng kalusugan upang higit na marami ang makinabang sa serbisyong pangkalusugan, sa pagtatayo ng higit pang maraming paaralan, sa paglalaan ng higit na tulong sa mga mahihirap para sa pag-aaral, at pagtatayo ng mas marami at mas mabubuting inprastruktura na kailangan sa kaunlaran.

6. Inuulit naming ang hamon na aming ibinigay 25 taon nang nakaraan sa EDSA I at nananawagan kami sa lahat ng mga taong may magandang kalooban na nakikiisa sa aming pinaninindigan: “sama-sama tayong manalangin, sama-sama tayong magmuni, sama-sama tayong magpasya, sama-sama tayong kumilos, lagi sa layuning ang katotohanan ay mamayani” sa harap ng maraming banta laban sa buhay ng tao at laban sa ating mga itinataguyod na mga halagang pantao at pang-kultura.
Pinagkakatiwala namin ang aming mga pagsisikap laban sa RH Bill (o Responsible Parenthood Bill, ang bagong tawag dito) sa pagpapala ng ating makapangyarihan at maibiging Diyos na pinagmumulan at patunguhan ng lahat ng buhay.
After a period of silent prayer:
Litany for Life
Lord, have mercy: Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy: Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy:  Lord, have mercy.
(for every petition our response is: “Lord, have mercy.”)
God of all creation. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, through whom all things were made. Lord, have mercy.
Spirit of life and truth, Lord, have mercy.
On each child just conceived: Lord, have mercy.
For their safety and health: Lord, have mercy.
For nine months of growth: Lord, have mercy.
That an angel may protect them: Lord, have mercy.
For peace and for hope:  Lord, have mercy.
On all new fathers:  Lord, have mercy.
On fathers who are alone:  Lord, have mercy.
On fathers unemployed: Lord, have mercy.
On fathers addicted: Lord, have mercy.
On fathers who are abusive: Lord, have mercy.
On young fathers who are afraid: Lord, have mercy.
On fathers who’ve run away:  Lord, have mercy.
On all new mothers:  Lord, have mercy.
On mothers who are alone: Lord, have mercy.
On mothers unemployed: Lord, have mercy.
On mothers addicted:  Lord, have mercy.
On mothers who are abusive:  Lord, have mercy.
On young mothers who are afraid:  Lord, have mercy.
On mothers who are in pain: Lord, have mercy.
On those who defend life:  Lord, have mercy.
On those who love the child in the womb:  Lord, have mercy.
On those who pray for the unborn child: Lord, have mercy.
On all who work to change unjust laws:  Lord, have mercy.
On all who live the Gospel of Life:  Lord, have mercy.
On Congressmen who work for life:  Lord, have mercy.
On our President:  Lord, have mercy.
On the members of the House of Representatives: Lord, have mercy.
On the members of the Senate:  Lord, have mercy.
On all too little to vote or persuade:  Lord, have mercy.
On all who work for life:  Lord, have mercy.
On doctors of life and of truth:  Lord, have mercy.
On residents who love the little child:  Lord, have mercy.
On doctors who gaze on life’s mysteries: Lord, have mercy.
On physicians who see into the womb:  Lord, have mercy.
On surgeons who heal the unborn child:  Lord, have mercy.
On all who defend the child in the womb:  Lord, have mercy.
On nurses who love little babies:  Lord, have mercy
On nursing students: Lord, have mercy.
On those who first hear the heartbeat:  Lord, have mercy.
On nurses who cradle the newborn:  Lord, have mercy.
On nurses who foster the unborn:  Lord, have mercy.
On all who protect defenseless life:  Lord, have mercy.
On judges who struggle with justice:  Lord, have mercy.
On lawyers who seek to speak truth:  Lord, have mercy.
On judges who love life:  Lord, have mercy.
On the judges of our Supreme Court: Lord, have mercy.
On the unborn child who rests in their hands: Lord, have mercy.
On all victims of abortion:  Lord, have mercy. 
On the woman whose memories cause her to cry: Lord, have mercy.
On those whose pain nags and holds on: Lord, have mercy.
On the unborn who rest with God: Lord, have mercy.
On all who seek mercy:  Lord, have mercy.
On all who seek peace: Lord, have mercy.
On all who seek healing,and mercy and perfect peace:  Lord, have mercy.
All: God our loving Father, grant wisdom to those who govern us,
compassion and courage to those who work to defend human life,
and safety and care to every human being.
For you alone who formed us in our mother’s wombs,
and who call us home to heaven,
are God, for ever and ever.
The Lord’s Prayer
The presiding minister then sings or says:
P: Now let us offer together the prayer our Lord Jesus Christ taught us:
All: Our Father…