Latest Posts

EVEN A DOLLAR WILL GO FAR

As you know, on Christmas Day, December 25, while you and I were celebrating the birth of our Savior, my hometown Virac in the island province of Catanduanes, Philippines, was hit by a powerful typhoon (hurricane), described by many as the strongest in decades. The devastation was massive. Thousands of residents were left homeless, their sources of livelihood are now gone and churches have been damaged, flooded and deprived of water and electricity.

My parish is raising funds to help those most affected. All donations will be channeled through the parish. I would deeply  appreciate whatever help you can extend. No gift is too small or too big.  Even a $1 donation will make a huge difference in the lives of the many people who have lost most or all of their possessions. Please make checks payable to St. Christopher Church with the designation Calamity Fund as a year-end, tax-deductible, charitable gift. If you prefer to use either debit or credit card via online (electronic) giving, please click hereThis site is safe and secure and has the same level of protection as Amazon and Google.

Thank you in advance for your generosity. As always, God bless and rest assured you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Fr. Jojo Tabo. Pastor

 here

31ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Earlier this year, St. Christopher kicked off the With All Your Heart Discipleship program to help grow deeper as a community of disciples grounding our faith in the four pillars of parish life: prayer, service, share and witness. The Heart to Share invites us to seriously consider and commit to share our financial resources to the community.

This Sunday’s Gospel is the familiar story of Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector, known as the bad guy, disliked by many because of the nature of his job but apparently, he is just as spiritually curious and needy as many of us are. In fact, in a desperate attempt, he climbed a sycamore tree to take a chance, to get a glimpse of Jesus, reportedly passing down Jericho. That’s quite an effort in an obviously hostile environment. When Jesus took sight of him, he asked him to come down and said “for today, I must stay at your house.” Because of this encounter, his life dramatically changed and in return, he said, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have exhorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.”

We may not have the same exact bizarre response as Zach promising to slash half of his assets, however, we are asked to respond with generosity to the ever-growing needs of our community to serve the poor, to form a strong and solid faith foundation to our children, the young, and adults too who need both depth and a 2nd grade refresher, to maintain the physical plant and make it welcoming as best we can, among others. A while back, an embarrassing story happened to me. I hesitate to say this but since as a preacher, I cause trouble to people’s lives and put myself in hot water, let me say it anyway. Probably an excuse but there was an occasion when I inadvertently forgot to leave a tip in a restaurant. I was already pulling away from the parking lot when the waiter pursued me, “Sir, 15% tip is mandatory here.” This gave me a huge lesson in church giving. If I can afford to get a latte, a 6- pack, giving at least 1%, 1.5%, 2%, 3%, 4%, to no more than 5% of my weekly income should be manageable.

The parish Sunday collection has gone into a steady decline. Understandably, various factors have been in play but part of the reason (and I take responsibility for it) is that the pastor hasn’t emphasized much the value of sacrificial giving: giving that hurts. Shopping season is around the corner. You know how it feels when you’re dying to get stuff and settle for less for the benefit of the wider community. I don’t intend to interfere in your social lives/financial affairs nor make you feel guilty about spending habits but only invite you to see if you can give just a little more. Here’s the caveat: if you are in deep financial trouble, please disregard this.

I am convinced that a Christian community is built under the flagship of self-less love, humility and generosity. The happiest people I know are the generous people and I’m referring to you! Thank you so much for your support to St. Christopher Parish!

 

FOR ALL THE SAINTS…

Although today, we celebrate both the official, whose biographies are well-documented, famous lines quoted, and statues/images decorated on a pedestal and the unofficial (not even by loud acclamation) saints,  what strikes me most is the effervescent, passionate desire of the countless, anonymous, ordinary Christians to die for their faith as if their lives didn’t matter, persecuted down the centuries to this day whose names never made it to the books.

If we dream of being counted in the communion of saints in the heavenly glory, simply give witness, just volunteer, just preach, just reach out, show much love and don’t get preoccupied with legacy, popularity, recognition, titles and the likes since these are  the exact things they avoid.

PRAY FOR US!

28th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Autumn is a season of thanksgiving, a time of harvest after months of wait. If you’re in the greater Tucson/Marana area, you’d certainly love the weather as it starts to cool down from a nearly hellish temperature. Head to Sabino Canyon on your day off or perhaps, simply step outside in your backyard and appreciate Tucson’s beauty in an extravagant display of nature, lovely hues of falling leaves signaling a change of season. On the west side of Tangerine Road, cotton fields are up for harvest.

The first reading tells us the miraculous healing story of Naaman, a pagan army general of the Syrian king and the cured leper, who after being healed of his leprosy, grabbed a piece of earth as a tipping point in his life, went back to Elisha, gave thanks and worshipped God. Similarly, in the Gospel story exclusive only to Luke, although it was kind of heart- breaking that only one out of ten lepers went back to thank Jesus, at least, one remembered and returned, “glorifying God…and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” Both of them were foreigners (cultural and religious outsider) -a group of people normally shunned/excluded by the mainstream culture either because they look and dress differently, act suspicious as strangers, or speak the language with heavy accents mostly hard to understand, but apparently, they were the first to say thanks.

Saying “Thank You” is the most powerful gesture ever! If someone does you a favor, regardless, be it small or great, your response must be an immediate “thank you” and don’t delay especially, if you want something back again. It cannot wait. It has to be done, in all sincerity, within a 24-hour timeframe. All it takes is a quick phone call or whatever thank you card you have in the stack (aesthetics matters less), send it asap. Otherwise, you’ll end doing an apology which is possibly the most embarrassing thing you’ll have to do. Saying thank you openly without restraint makes the giver feel appreciated-the #1 desire of any human being and shows one’s character on the part of the recipient.

When I was putting the discipleship prayer together as part of the parish stewardship program, I focused on the four aspects of prayer with a huge emphasis on gratitude (spiritual and temporal) breaking it down to the basics: life in general, food provision, clothing, shelter, health, family, parents, fellow parishioners, jobs and of course, the many other things often taken for granted. Did I mention God? Several times, I’ve come across photos in facebook/instragam featuring the manner of eating in which rich and poor differ (you can easily tell) and it pains me whenever I see folks posting gorgeous platters without first saying grace before meals (maybe, I’m jealous because I seldom get invited but that’s beside the point), how do I know? Just a wild guess. There is something in prosperity that somehow takes us out of sync with the original giver, God.

As thanksgiving draws near, take this as a humble invitation (myself included), if we identify and count ourselves with the ungrateful nine, we might as well toe the line, start to recollect our broken pieces, prepare for the inevitable harvest, number both our blessings and curses, if need be, that we may see the inner workings of God in the ordinary. If you have any trouble counting your blessings, you need help to see the bright side of life. I deal with people all the time, many of them troubled and wounded and what I found out is that they feel unappreciated. Perhaps a takeaway, from time, talent and treasure, what are you reaping this harvest season? What are you keeping and/or throwing? Any person or group that you need to be thankful for? Maybe, it’s time. Do yourself a favor. All they need is a simple thank you and that explains everything. Amen.

Violence is irrational, extra-judicial killings are unjustifiable…church must speak…

Make no mistake…don’t get me wrong…I applaud DU30’s all-out war on drugs, crime and corruption. No candidate would have embarked on this much-needed sweeping reform except him. His performance and the over- all outcome of his oplan- drug- thing plan (less than 90 days, who’s counting!) exceeded my expectations. In a program such as this, if you reach the 80% mark, it’s mission accomplished, job well done and I give you, two thumbs up even more! I’m amazed at the soaring numbers of those who stepped forward to start anew, turned themselves in-civilians and politicians-willing to undergo rehab). I don’t think there’s anyone in the laundry list that can be considered as the reincarnation of satan. I don’t know them but I stand by the inherent goodness of humanity. I maintain my claim. They are good people. They just lost direction, got hooked up, and now, badly needed help.

Any reform is dangerous if it’s not handled well. Violence is irrational…Anyone in the position of authority can’t simply make decisions out of emotions…In any form of war, there are casualties…stakes are high…but in this scenario, it could have been avoided…the increasing # of deaths could have reduced had we been extra careful…

With Pres Digong’s brash style almost always threatening to expose the scandals of the institution (morals or otherwise), he silenced the church. Well, not totally. Some are unstoppable and that’s commendable. My main concern is that, if the church described both as holy, imperfect and sinful understands its role as the conscience, the voice and the moral compass of society, fails to live up to its role inspite of the scandals and the problems faced, then it ceases to exist. If, we leaders, are shut down, we must be ashamed of Jesus Christ, of St. Paul…of name it…If DU30, indeed, does, so be it. It’s purification time again.

22ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

As seen and heard in social media and real-life stories, humility is the mark of a great person. Sirach says, “My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.”

During my month-long vacation, I stayed tuned at the Rio Olympics like a couch potato. Admittedly, what I enjoyed the most, as expected, was the spectacular show of talents of the best athletes in the world competing at the highest level. I looked forward to the interviews of those who brought gold, broke records, made history, gave pride to the country and upon return, given a hero’s welcome. What they have to say intrigues me. I hesitate to mention names but I have great respect and admiration to those who remain humble by giving credit not just to the sacrifices made but to their faith. In spite of their world-class talents, accolades, accomplishments, and decorated careers, the spotlight could have easily been used for bragging rights. Rather, they pointed to God or otherwise but mostly to something beyond them duly recognizing the program and the tireless support of the many individuals behind their successes.

A humble person is a rare breed. In a world where many prefer the limelight (not bad at all, in fact, it’s but human to seek value, recognition and honor), there is a short supply of them and the moment I chance upon (virtual and/or real) I bet you, in subtle ways, they inspire and change me. Forever? Possibly. I can’t tell exactly where to hunt and spot them like a pokemon but evidently, not in political campaigns where inflated egos come in different shapes and sizes. To be humble is to have a mastery of thy self. A humble person is deeply spiritual, profoundly practical and yet, inexplicable. He listens attentively, puts the goodness of others ahead, a feedback junkie, knows his limits and is aware that some things are beyond his control, discards any hint of arrogance, accepts mistakes and takes the blame. And if ever you wonder where the source of this penulminate energy flows from, well, it is within, in his inner soul divinely wired. Only a saint can do this!

Next Sunday, September 4, the Universal Church will witness the canonization of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, a nobel prize winner, by His Holiness Pope Francis. Her life is an epitome of humility. She wasn’t afraid nor scared. She took the lowest seat. She showed us what it meant to have a missionary spirit by going out in the streets to take care of the needy, the lame, the blind and the crippled-the ultimate expression of the verse “for all who exalt themselves will be made humble, while all who humble themselves will be made great.”

Faith and Life is a constant invitation to a public banquet where the poor and disabled-the very people we tend to dissociate ourselves from must have the priority over our loved ones and acquaintances. Crazy as can be, we’re asked in our little ways to show an act of kindness and humility to those who can’t repay us back.

Since today, August 28 is the Memorial of a great doctor of the church, St. Augustine, let me end with his famous line which gives me goosebumps every time I engage in a spiritual calisthenics: “You have made us for thyself, O Lord, our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” His confessions made him a spiritual giant by inscribing what many of us can’t even express in words. With a deep sense of humility and candor, he shared his religious struggles including the mistakes he made. St. Augustine Pray For Us!

WE SALUTE THE VETERANS

In honor of Veteran’s Day, a memorable tribute was given to the parish veterans last weekend. It was profoundly moving as the prayers for the living and deceased vets (heads bowed) were recited, pins handed out, taps played, among others. Thanks to the  coordinators and everyone who helped out: Carol, Cc, Veronica, CDA and JCDA. Veterans, the embodiment of courage and bravery, make America safe and secure and advance the ideals of liberty, justice and equality for all. Back when I was a younger priest, an 18-year-old kid came to see me before heading to Iraq for combat and asked for a rosary that he could keep in the battlefield.

I’m not sure if it’s mere coincidence but today is the Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, patron saint of soldiers.

As always, God bless…