Author: Jojo

2ND SUNDAY: COME AND SEE

If you’re searching for an excellent text as a tool for parish evangelization – a plan of action, so to speak, in all ages across cultures, look no further. The initial encounter of the two would-be disciples (Andrew and the other unidentified person, let’s say it’s you) with Jesus begins with the renowned and highly acclaimed prophet pointing them to the lamb of God prompting them to leave him behind. Imaginably, it must have been a poignant scenario as it’s not easy to let go of an inspiring preacher in a heartbeat. At any rate, there’s always someone or something that will bring you to God: a mentor, a shady past, a personal issue or name it. What are you looking for in 2018? Have you come up with something? or given up before making a move? And the answer is, Teacher! Andrew along with the anonymous fellow says it out loud (italics mine). They are on-the-hunt for someone to teach them about the depths of life, obviously found only in God and the precursor …

WELCOME HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

Catholics, practicing and not, will come (depending on timezone – the already and not yet) in droves. Many of them disengaged with the parish grind and anything in between. They’re tied up with family, work, worldly pleasures (not bad at all) and perhaps, find little meaning in church life. Parish Christmas Ads have been in circulation in the greater Marana area and beyond weeks in advance but generated little attention: clicks, likes, reactions and reach… Unlike other churches, there’s no clearly laid out plan here @ St Christopher for a possible catching up with faith. A simple invitation to take a deep breath would be enough for a small crowd of no more than 300 people. The game plan (if there’s any) is to make them feel welcome with a warm smile and a divine loving embrace, provide a sanctuary, offer a safe space in the privacy of their hearts, enjoy the peace and serenity and the quiet stillness of the moment with little to no pressure of coming back, next week or next year …

4TH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Today is a double- header. The normal Sunday Mass Times are still in effect while the Christmas Vigil Mass doesn’t start until 5pm. A text message from Google prompted me esta manana @4. Mea culpa. Es confuso y yo tambien. It’s still Advent and won’t go anywhere without Blessed Mother. In fact, Mary has been trending for the most part of December. The weekday readings predominantly recount the infancy narratives along with the astonishing story of the Annunciation proclaimed today -the shocking announcement of the divine plan of salvation heralded by the ecstatic angel Gabriel, the initial (hesitant) response which could have gone otherwise, the friendly assurance of the messenger letting her know not to worry about anything for God is in complete control of the situation and the final response- the humble reception of the message relying entirely on a power outside her. Mary’s humble acceptance of God’s timeless invitation and the keeping of things close in her heart has become the hallmark of discipleship. She represents the hidden, the invisible, the often-ignored and taken …

3RD SUNDAY ADVENT

The gradual shift from a penitential tone to a festive atmosphere overwhelmingly on display in the church environment signals the joy and warmth of the upcoming feast as it draws near. Noticeably, the sanctuary is inundated with red poinsettias with a handful of whitesh-yellowish hue. A slightly elevated empty wooden crib laid at the foot of the altar has finally found a place and right next to it is a garbage bound casita found by accident in the stack. The richly decorated fresh Christmas tree along with the enormously adorned images and statues of the Blessed Mother (La Inmaculada Concepcion y Maria Santisima Virgen de Guadalupe) with an Old Pueblo motif, and wreathes decked on walls are meant to heighten the awareness of the birth of Christ as it comes closer. It’s not that we suddenly got rid of John the Baptist’s draconian persona. His relentless style is much revered, not to mention, the countless lives transformed in ways beyond words. While we learned a great deal about him particularly, repentance and simplicity last week, …

2ND SUNDAY ADVENT

John the Baptizer is trending on Advent. This saintly figure which represents the stern side of religious belief strikingly dominates the season. The fact that there was no confusion about his role desiring nothing but making God’s presence felt, he deserves much respect. Arguably, his lifestyle was beyond repute. He was a no non-sense guy. Sunday obligation was non-negotiable. For him, there’s no ifs and buts. Excuses are unacceptable. It’s either all or nothing. The message is urgent and disturbing evidently echoing Isaiah 40 “…a voice crying out in the wilderness…prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths…” Love him or hate him, you cannot ignore him. As a preacher, he had an enormous following and to this day, you bet, versions of him are still in existence across the globe. He was profoundly influential. He drew significant number of people (busy or not) from all over the place. Religiously devout parents who diligently with grit and determination raise their kids in the church have my respect and support than those who do nothing …

THIS IS A HOLY LAND

Pilgrimage has come to an end. It was short but deeply moving. I had a fresh understanding of faith both as a series of creeds (belongingness) and a personal divine encounter (friendship). As the Amsterdam bound aircraft leaves the ground, fades and disappears in the air, I pray for peace in decades of unresolved conflict…for reconciliation between Muslims and Jews however that works, whether it means learning to co-exist…for as long it doesn’t go to the next life. It is tempting to stay longer as the holy ground prides itself as the closest place to heaven and the Dead Sea being the lowest place on earth. Much as I wish to spend more time, I have to go. Everything is expensive from food, clothing, oil/gas, let alone faith. What matters most is what anyone intends to do following the humbling experience with an elusive reality. As for me, that remains to be seen. As a souvenir, I bought a Jerusalem Cross. It is silver (budget friendly), not gold or diamond and relatively small as a …