Guest Reflection Writer: Bro. Albert Zabala (thank you!)

March 16 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”

Either we are for Jesus, or we are not. There is no middle ground. An unholy Christian is an oxymoron. Yet often that is what we are. We claim to be Christians, yet we do not do what we need to do to live up to that name. Today, we are called to recommit to our calling as baptized Christians – to live out our baptismal promises, like rejecting Satan, his empty promises and his works. Otherwise, we become unChristian.

March 17 “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”

You want to be close to God? Love God and love others. Although it is true that the Kingdom of God is in heaven, it does not mean that we cannot experience God’s Kingdom here on earth. If we love God above all else and love others just as God loves you and me, then this world will be heavenly. This is God’s will from the very beginning. When He created this world and us, He really meant this to be heaven. Love like God and you will experience heaven.

March 18 “Oh God, be merciful to me, a sinner”

Romans 3: 23-24 says that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Sin is one of the things that make each one of us the same. We are all sinners. We all need God’s mercy. No matter how advanced we think we are in the spiritual life, we are still sinners. Hence, we don’t have the right to look down on others. Humility then is a very important virtue in the spiritual life. We can only progress in it if we recognize that like everyone else, we need God because only God’s merciful grace alone can help us realize not just our sinfulness, but the enormity of God’s love for us.

March 20 “Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,…”

St. Joseph is the silent character in Scriptures but is “loud” in influence. Yet his silence is precisely a major characteristic of his righteousness. True righteousness is often silent. True righteousness is seen in one’s actions, not in words. And St. Joseph is a man of action. His silence meant that he listened more to God and what God wanted him to do. His obedience is what made St. Joseph a much revered saint. Do we spend enough time with God in silence so that we can be more attentive to what He wants us to do? Let St. Joseph’s example be an inspiration so that our actions are reflective of God’s will.

March 21 “Look, you are well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may happen to you.”

Have you ever considered that the cause of illness could be spiritual and not just biological? How is your relationship with God? If you are suffering from chronic biological illness, the cause might not just be physical;  it can also be point to your spiritual health. Consider examining your relationship with God now. Try to be closer to Him. He will help you get better.

March 22 “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.”

According to Dr. Arthur Brooks, work and faith are two habits that influence one’s happiness. If we cannot stop going to work, then why do we often forget and worse, neglect going to church, praying or building our faith in God. Our heavenly Father constantly seeks us so that we could be with Him, Who alone can make our life filled with happiness. Do you also seek God? Work on fortifying your faith just as much as you work.

March 23 “The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.”

“You will know a tree by its fruit.” Jesus’ testimony that He is indeed the Son of God because of the works that He did: He forgave sins, healed the sick and broken-hearted and spent time with those who most needed God’s love and forgiveness. If we are to be His true followers, then we should do the same. Do we forgive those who have offended us just as God has forgiven us? Do we minister to the sick in our family or community? Do we spend time with those whom others consider as “not worth their time?”

March 24 “But we know where he is from. When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.”

“Are you open-minded?” A question that is often asked when trying to recruit someone in the network marketing business. In the subject Logic, under the topic “Informal Fallacies”, this would fall under “Complex Question” because it is a trap question. It tries to force you to answer to lead you to accept something that is totally irrelevant to the true meaning of being open-minded. The Jews were not open-minded in the true sense of the meaning of the phrase because they thought they knew everything about the Christ. And Jesus did not fit under the categories of what they thought the Christ should be. When it comes to the spiritual life, open-mindedness means allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to you. It’s fixing your gaze on Jesus in order to reveal Himself to you more clearly. May we our minds and hearts be opened so that we can truly know Who Jesus is.

March 25 “I am the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your word.”

Yesterday was about being open-minded. In today’s Feast of the Annunciation, Mary’s fiat is really the best example of open-mindedness. Definitely she knows how one can get pregnant naturally. Yet she trusted the angel when he told her that she would be pregnant supernaturally. Indeed, when one is open-minded, and open-hearted for that matter, the supernatural will have a place in one’s life. God is supernatural. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. May we be like Mary today in her open-mindedness so that like her we could acknowledge the place of the supernatural in our lives.

March 26 “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?”

We often hear it said, “To see is to believe.” In the spiritual life, however, “to believe is to see.” God’s raising Lazarus from the dead may indeed be a spectacle which everyone saw and yet not all who saw this believed. Often, if not always, belief makes us see. Faith makes obvious the glory of God revealed in our everyday life. The sun does not have to rise and set everyday. Yet it does. Isn’t that a miracle? May our faith grow stronger so that God’s blessings in our lives may become more obvious. Ask God today to make your faith stronger so that you may see.

March 27 “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”

God indeed is a forgiving God. There is absolutely no sin that He can’t forgive, except of course when we absolutely reject Him. (This is the sin against the Holy Spirit) However, together with God’s forgiveness is God’s command to “not sin anymore.” No matter how many times we ask for God’s forgiveness, He will never tire. But have we also obeyed God not to sin again? Do we tend to abuse the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Even so, God will forgive us. But He asks us not to sin not because He doesn’t want us to offend Him. He asks us not to sin again because He created us for something more and something better. He doesn’t want our sins to define us. He wants us to live a life of virtue because He wants us to have a full and joyful life. And this kind of life can only be had through our practice of virtues. “Sin no more” means “Live a life of virtue.”

March 28 “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me.”

We judge people’s credibility based on their education, upbringing, place of origin, etc. Although Jesus is true God and His words and deeds should have been enough for people to see them and believe, He still said that all these, His words and deeds,” came from the Father and in the end of today’s Gospel, it says, “Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.” Even Jesus had a “boss” in God the Father, and He acknowledged Him. In the Nicene Creed, we say that Jesus is “consubstantial with the Father.” Yet Jesus acknowledges the Father as the source of His words and deeds. Isn’t that humility? Let us remember today people who helped us build and who contributed to our credibility.

March 29 “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Often, we hear only part of the quoted text above: “The truth will set you free.” But truth comes from following the Lord. Truth is not an idea. Truth is the God-Man Jesus. Jesus is the truth that will set us free. Apart from Jesus, whatever we think we know that is true, may actually be false, and instead of becoming free, we become slaves to it. You want to know the truth? Know Jesus first.

March 30  “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.”

Death is the effect of sin. Adam’s disobedience led to his death. When he ate of the forbidden fruit, he died immediately. His soul died because it was cut away from God. Eventually, he also died physically. When you read the Old Testament, the characters there seemed to have lived a long life. Adam is said to have died at 930 years old; Moses at 120. But when you consider eternal life, those years are short. When God created us, He meant us to live forever with Him. Jesus came to carry God’s original plan for us. And this can happen, if we keep Jesus words. You want to live forever? Read the Bible and let Jesus’ words lead you to eternal life.

March 31 “If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

Isn’t it that “actions speak louder than words.”? Isn’t that common sense? Jesus’ enemies were so intent on killing Him that they lost their common sense. This is what fanaticism looks like. This is also happening in our world today. No matter how much good you do and how much charitable works you initiated, if you say something that is not agreeable to many (or to some), you will be canceled. This is the cost of following Jesus. This is what taking up your cross means. Proclaim Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life, you will be canceled. But do not be afraid. That only thing that matters is that you will be in God’s book of life and no cancel culture can erase that.