Gospel Reflections

 

by Dr. Victoria Veloria

Sunday November 12, 2017         Matthew 25:1-13                 Parable of Ten Virgins 

In last Sunday’s Gospel about the ten virgins, five of whom were foolish and five were wise in waiting for the bridegroom with their “flasks of oil with their lamps” (Matthew 25:1-13), we are forewarned to “stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour” [of the second coming of the “bridegroom” Jesus Christ]. The second coming is sure to come, hence, we should be well-prepared to receive Jesus. Unlike the five foolish virgins who came with their lamps but there were no oil in them, we are expected to be ready with valid account of our strong faith in God in action, accomplishments based on Jesus’ teachings, and serving others through word, thoughts and deed—for what is faith if not manifested in what we do for ourselves and others? In the reading below about Pastor Jack Wellman’s “What Does the Bible Say Happens Immediately After Death,” we are further clarified what to expect when we die. We are reminded about the story of Lazarus and the rich man. Lazarus went to heaven while the rich man went to Hell where he was tormented by fire. Once we reach that same place, it will be too late already for us to ever change our fate of eternal death. May this reading open our eyes to the horror of dying unprepared to meet Jesus, but instead, let us keep our faith “alive, awake, and active in action” doing pleasant things for Christ! In Jesus’ Holy Name, I pray, Amen! 

October 31, 2017          “3 THINGS TO SAY TO AN ATHEIST” 

ON PASTOR JACK WELLMAN’S ARTICLE: “3 THINGS TO SAY TO AN ATHEIST by Dr. Vel

True or not true? Believe or not to believe? Be in the dark or be in the light? God has given us Freewill despite the fact that He has Supreme and Divine Will for all of us to share the joy of being in His kingdom for all eternity! With this Freewill, we are free to choose to obey or not to obey. We saw in Adam and Eve the first downfall of Mankind because of self-pride and desire to be equal with God! With this downfall, we earned “death” instead of eternal life. We should have been enjoying immortality like God as His children but the sin of disobedience was passed on to all of us because of this original sin of our first parents—Adam and Eve. It is the same pride and vanity that propels atheists to declare that there is no God, despite the fact that they CANNOT prove their belief on the absence of God! When we sin against God, we are conscious that we are doing the wrong thing but our sinfulness drives us to still do it anyway. Like any other man [or woman for that matter] who engage in extra marital relationship, they would rather call themselves AMORAL [the absence of and denial of morality] than IMMORAL [doing immoral acts and conscious of doing so even violating the society’s moral standards]. Being educated in a Catholic institution run by Jesuit priests such as the Ateneo de Davao University, I reminded my own biological father about going back to his first family and be reconciled with my mother. Instead of listening to me as a daughter, he proudly declared he was “amoral,” not immoral. He even told me that if I was never born and never educated using his own financial resources, I would not be in front of him to accuse him of what he was doing and living outside the grace of God. Being just a daughter to him, I could not do anything but keep praying for him that God would give him all the chances to repent and be sorry before his final rest. God must have heard my prayer because a few years after his retirement, my father went home because his health was deteriorating and he didn’t like to be a burden to his second family. I also had the chance to be at his deathbed praying with him. He sang to God and repented all the days of his remaining life, and said with all humility “SORRY” for all his transgressions and for his pride in denying the presence of conscience and morals. He passed away in God’s peace and grace and I was so thankful to see this happen in 1992. If he died earlier when I was still in Davao Province, I would not be able to witness for the Lord about His Divine grace. This controversial topic on the presence or absence of God called my attention this afternoon, and after reading all the comments of readers at the end of Pastor Jack Wellman’s article, I thought that I could write something about it. I already did the first part, my father’s own story. The second part was about my own experience of joining or seconding my husband’s word saying there is no God. To my horror, that same day after getting frustrated at not getting the working visa of my husband at US Embassy, a 6.5 earthquake shook Manila, particularly that area where we were at—the Quiapo Church. We saw buildings and electric posts swaying. I really thought it was the end of the world! I was conscious that we were heavily punished because we were not able to get a ride after walking more than two miles toward Araneta Collisium in Quezon City. Then I remembered what we said—that there is no God. Right then I asked God’s forgiveness for having denied His Being and His Presence as our Creator. And I asked His mercy because I was already exhausted and my legs and feet were aching. We were still another two miles away from Murphy at my sister-in-law’s apartment where we were staying while processing my husband’s papers to work in Guam at my Brother Pol’s company. Then a jeepney going to Murphy stopped in front of us. We took that ride and at last we arrived home safe and sound. The following day, we went back to the US Embassy and we got my husband’s US working visa. I looked at the date and time reflected at my husband’s passport. It was exactly the same date and time when I acknowledged God’s Divinity and asked His forgiveness and mercy while we were walking after the earthquake! Was this coincidence? For me, it was never a coincidence, in the same way that being sick with a cancerous tumor in my uterus like the same deadly disease that claimed the life of Lily dela Cerna who passed on me her permanent teaching position as her substitute. God does not play coincidences with us, His creatures, for when Adam and Eve sinned, He sent us His only Begotten Son and became Man through the Blessed Virgin Mary who “obeyed” the Will of God to become the mother of Jesus. Man’s weakness is always on OBEDIENCE. Eve was the first one to disobey, followed by Adam. Mary obeyed, so did Jesus in order to accomplish the Will of God for man’s Salvation through Jesus’ death on the Cross. What other proofs do atheists need in order to believe the presence of God? Isn’t the Holy Bible enough proof? the prophets? the apostles? Jesus Himself? How about the doubting Thomas who was rebuked by Jesus saying that he only believed that He was resurrected when he saw Jesus, felt Jesus’ wounds in His hands and feet and at His side. But blessed are those who believe even if they have not seen Jesus. Likewise, blessed are we who believe even if we don’t see God. Let us just look back at the history of humankind. Blessed was Noah who believed God and followed His instructions to prepare for the coming Deluge; blessed was Abraham who obeyed God to sacrifice Isaac, his only son, thus passing the test of God on obedience; blessed was Lot and his children who obeyed not looking back at Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction as against his wife who looked back and turned into pillar of salt. We can go on and on, but the fact is this: if atheists take pride in remaining as atheists, it is by choice that they can duplicate the sin of Adam and Eve; the sin of people who sinned against God and mocked Noah who was building the Ark; the pharaoh of Egypt who waited till his son’s death before releasing the Israelites (Exodus) and more other stories from the Old and New Testaments. Let’s think of the 3 things that we should say to an atheist as suggested by Pastor Wellman: 1) What do you do with your guilt? 2) Where did the universe come from? 3) Can you prove there is no God? I close with fervent prayers that we build our faith on solid foundation laid down before us by Jesus Christ Himself; and that with humility we open our heart, mind, and soul and let the light of Divine Wisdom enter our being before it is too late for us to repent and receive God’s grace. In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen!

            Wednesday August 23, 2017         Matthew 20:1-6                 Workers in the Vineyard

Many go out early to work to make their wages. God is the same in Heaven and on earth.  Unchanged and eternally constant, God is always giving freely to the little ones and to the least. God equally shares everything – His bounty. He creates the sun, the moon and the stars to shines and shower His blessings on all of His creation.

It is more heaven like to trust in our loving and merciful Father who provides and protects us all because He created us to bear His image.  Jesus says, I am the resurrection.  He is risen, indeed, and is alive in us.  In accordance with the living God, Our Father’s Divine Will lives and reigns with Our Lady, Queen of Heaven and Earth she is with the King of Kings, Prince of Peace her Blessed son, Jesus who was sent by the Father to be the way, the truth and the life to save us all.

Friday, March 31, 2017 Lenten Reflection
John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

Jesus moved about within Galilee; he did not wish to travel in Judea because the Jews were trying to kill him. But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near.
But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret. Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said, “Is he not the one they are trying to kill? And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him. Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ? But we know where he is from. When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.” So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said, “You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come.
Reflection:
Jerusalem, the Holy City of God, the center of Jewish religion and culture, was Jesus’ destiny. In Jerusalem, Jesus would come to his “hour”: that time in which he would have to face suffering and death so that he could rise in glory on the third day. We all must journey to our own Jerusalem; we will all experience our hour of death. The way in which we journey to that hour and accept our destiny defines who we are as Christians. The way of the Cross is the way of surrender to the limits God has placed on our lives.
What We Can Ask Ourselves:
Do I realize that my life has a limit, and that one day I will come to an end? Do I believe and trust that in Christ we have hope for a life beyond this present one? How can I follow Christ each day towards my destiny? What am I doing to prepare for my eternal future?Orlando, Florida, USA

Sunday, March 26, 2017 Lenten Reflection
John 9:1-41 Man Born Blind

“Blind Spots”

Are we doing consistent reflection and meditation this Lenten Season? As we approach the Holy Week, it will be good for us to beware of our blind spots. This refers not only in driving but also in our daily life. By blind spots, it may mean things we are not aware of to be bad for us and others. As a diabetic person, I always think that it is good for me to fast as I always desire to be spiritually attuned to the observance of Lenten Season. Unfortunately, the blind spot I am not aware of is to experience low blood sugar, which is also a danger zone for diabetics. I experienced dizziness when I was doing a general clean up in the front yard. That was the time I remember missing my breakfast! Good I didn’t collapse. So I hurried into the kitchen to get some food and have little bites, for another problem I might face is the upsurge of my blood sugar if I take the full lunch. I blame no one but myself for becoming diabetic. I made soft drinks as my daily water when I was still in the Philippines. I had no physical exercise as I was always in my office as the then principal of the high school I pioneered. All these were my blind spots that became obviously dangerous without my daily dose of Metformin! I used to be judgmental when it comes to the observance of religious practices as I compare one religion with another. But as I immerse myself with Jesus’ teachings during His time, I became aware of how He dealt with those who were “lost.” He didn’t leave them behind. In fact, He sought for them, lived with them, dined and drank with them! After all, only our faith in God could save us, not our own way of avoiding the “sinners” in our midst! This was my other blind spot. I didn’t like to entertain those who knock at my door to talk about Jesus because they belong to another denomination. Surprisingly, by the grace of God, I had a little chat with them last Sunday and yesterday! I believe it must be my confidence now that I can defend my faith and what I believe in based on my Gospel readings! For as long as the discussion is within the confines of the Holy Bible, then I have nothing to fear! In fact, I shared with them the progress I am making with my Gospel reflections online using the Scripture readings and researches of people from other religious groups who use the same Holy Bible I have in my possession. I praise and thank the Lord that He has finally checked on this blind spot I had caged myself in for so long! May this reading open our eyes to our individual blind spots with the help of the Holy Spirit’s guidance, enlightenment and power to correct us and make us truly the children of God who desire our “change of hearts.” In Jesus’ Holy Name, I pray, Amen! (March 29, 2017 Orlando, Florida, USA)

“Blessings From Difficulties” 

When faced with difficulties, our first reaction is to complain, not knowing that there are “3 BLESSINGS FROM DIFFICULTIES,” according to Pastor Jack Wellman. Hence, Peter Marshall is right in saying, “God will not permit any troubles to come upon us, unless He has a specific plan by which a great blessing can come out of the difficulty.” The following are the blessings we can expect from our difficulties: 1) Sharing Comfort+++(2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God”). I remember how my sisters-in-law dealt with their divorce problems. One left for Italy and worked there for the rest of her life till her death. She never remarried. Another was petitioned by her daughter and is presently living in Guam in peace and comfort till she survived my Brother Pol who passed away due to emphysema. Still another sister-in-law of mine remarried my Brother Ely, remained with him and took care of him until he passed away due to cancer. All my three sisters-in-law trusted the Lord and left everything in His hands. All these enabled me to accept also my fate as a divorcee as I continue living in faith that all will end well for me as I continue serving God. 2) Receiving Good Results from Evil+++Joseph’s story tells it all in Genesis 45 to 50 where he was sold by his brothers to slavery, but he was blessed by God and became the Pharaoh’s administrator in Egypt during the 7 years of abundance, and 7 years of famine thus saving all people including his own family who came to Egypt because he saved the surplus food during the 7 years of abundance that covered up the years of famine! God Himself gave us His only Son to die on the Cross and redeem us from sin and death thus giving us our salvation. (John 3:16). 3) Giving Us Dependency on God+++(Psalm 57:2 “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” Psalm 55:16 “But I call to God, and the Lord saves me”). Indeed, we are truly dependent on God but the prayer taught to us by Jesus tells us to pray everyday for our provisions in “Give us this day our daily bread.” He also gives us Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want.” All we need is to keep praying and trusting God’s Word that He will be our comforter, our deliverer, our provider and protector. May this reading build up our trust in God, that we should never be shaken by trials, and that we keep our faith strongly with prayers and supplication. In Jesus’ Holy Name, I pray, Amen

 

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