Three Concerns in Christian Discipleship

nov 11 2019[Homily:  Assumption Chapel.  11.11.19.  Based on:  Luke 17: 1-6]

In our Gospel reading for today according to Luke Jesus is on his great journey to Jerusalem – where he will enter in glory, take possession of His Father’s temple,  then experience rejection, condemnation, his passion, death, and resurrection.  On this journey, he has much to say about what it means to be his follower.  Luke’s Gospel is addressed to early Christians who were not necessarily Jews.  It is also addressed to us.

There are three concerns in today’s Gospel:

First:  Do not cause another person to sin. 

How does one cause another person to sin?  This may be an invitation for you to ask yourselves whether in your lives you cause other persons to sin.

We are ending the liturgical year with the celebration of the Christ the King.  How have you in your life caused people to sin because you have effectively led them away from the Kingdom of God, from that life where it is clearly God who is King and not money, God who is King and not the desire for fame and glory, God who is King and not the thirst for power.  You do that when in your lives you give no witness to the reality of the Kingdom of God.  Your life is filled with noise, and you have no sensitivity to the presence of God, no care for what he wills.  You have no prayer life, no need for worship.  Life is basically getting by, surviving the mundane challenges of every day, doing what the job requires, and failing to do what God requires.  If this is your life, you have already been led away from God, are probably in sin, and you easily lead others away from God.  Yet the Gospel is saying not to cause others to sin.

You cause others to sin when you involve them in your hatred for others, when you involve them in your lust and deceive them through your persuasion and rationalization.  You cause others to sin when you teach them to be greedy for money as you are greedy, or you teach them to plot and scheme to achieve power as you plot and scheme for power, when you convince them that money and power trump all that is ethical, just and true.  Causing others to sin is not rare.  That is why our Gospel warns against it.

The punishment for this is dire.  “It was better for him if a millstone were to be put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin,” Jesus warns.

The second concern:  Help your brother in sin to turn away from sin. 

Help your brother in sin to return to the Lord.  You cannot just ignore him, “Bahala na siya!”  You must, “Rebuke him!”  This does not necessarily mean you must scold him, take a holier-than-thou tone.  But it does mean that if your friend is being unjust to his workers, or if your friend is cheating in class, or if your colleague teacher is not teaching his students as he should, that you should find a way to talk to him and correct him.  And if he has wronged you, you should correct him, and forgive him.  St. Luke stresses the importance of Christians’ forgiveness of one another.  Here he is saying if he wrongs you seven times, you must forgive him seven times – as often as necessary to lead him back to the Lord.

Finally, the disciples’ request: “Increase our faith.”

The Lord replies that even faith the size of a mustard seed is strong enough for you to command a large mulberry tree to uproot itself and be planted in the sea.  Even the smallest measure of faith is powerful enough to do the unlikely.  Jesus is talking about the strength of faith, even though faith is not a muscle, not a magical potion for the miraculous.  Faith is a relationship, the openness of a person to the presence of God, the readiness of a person to do his will.  When we as Ateneans talk about being strong in the faith, fortes in fide, we are talking about being habitually sensitive to his presence and being habitually ready to do his will.  This openness to the presence of God in the gentleness of the breeze, in the power of the quaking earth, in the cry of the poor for justice, in the call of the environment to stop its shameless abuse, in the interiorly perceived desire for conversion, is faith.  It starts very small, but even in its smallness is very strong.  Faith is not about the weakness of man, but about the power of God, and the surprise of man’s relating to him.  Faith is the beginning of conversion, but it is also the goal of conversion.  It is the motive of love and the warrant for hope.  Faith is strong enough to move a Martin of Tours to share his cloak with a beggar, or strong enough to demand that the open-pit mines of Mindanao be uprooted and cast into the sea.  If it is strong enough to move mountains, it is also strong enough to quiet you that you may live in the presence of God.  It is strong enough through your prayer to prevent you from causing others to sin.  It is strong enough in your silence to move another person away from the depression of sin into the joy of God’s fellowship at the table of the Lord.

In sum:
Do not cause another to sin.
Help your sister or brother return to God.
Pray the Lord to increase your faith.

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Thank you for your generosity and for More Together


Thank you for accepting our invitation to dinner last Saturday evening to consider how you might help our beloved Ateneo de Davao University!   Accepting this invitation, you already helped contribute significantly to its A-1 Scholarship Fund for gifted students.

It was an evening were we dined together, enjoyed the singing of the ADDU Chorale, the instrumentals of the ADDU Repertory Company, and the award-winning dancing of the ADDU Sidlak Performing Arts Collective.

It was also an evening during which we looked back over the last eight years with gratitude.  We are grateful for what has been achieved through our many construction projects.  But we are more grateful for the unity we now enjoy in our shared resolve to implement the ADDU Vision and Mission.  We are a Jesuit, Catholic and Filipino University serving Mindanao.  We participate in the Father’s work of reconciling humanity with himself, human beings with each other, and humanity with creation.  We strengthen the faith; we promote humane humanity.  We engage in inter-cultural and interreligious dialogue in Mindanao.  We respond to the needs of the Bangsamoro and Lumad communities.  We create wealth;  we distribute it equitably.  We are dedicated to lifelong learning.  We treasure our relationship with our alumni and alumnae.  Our mission is part of the educational mission of the Society of Jesus and of the Catholic Church.  Ultimately, it is God’s mission. _MG_4224

We have achieved much without fundraising.  The times, however, demand that we now raise funds:  to guarantee access to our quality education through scholarships, to attract, sustain and develop competent faculty, to improve our facilities, to implement our Ignatian spirituality activities, to enable our outreach activities.

Through my assistant for fundraising, Ms. Gracielle Tubera, we gave you an idea of how ADDU can be helped today.  The presentation was bold and unabashed, a map of giving opportunities to fit the generosity the Lord inspires in every donor.   “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7); at the same time, after Jesus saw a certain widow putting in two mites, he said, “Truly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all the rest; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had” (Luke 21:2-4).  St. Ignatius suggests we ask the Lord to teach us how to be generous.

It is in this spirit that we appeal for your generosity.  God measures generosity not in pesos and centavos, but in the manner in which your generosity reflects his own.  It is not true that you must give until it hurts; it is true you are invited to give until it brings you deep consolation and joy.

Among our many giving opportunities, I recommend that you consider first making a commitment to the A-1 Scholarship Fund – one peso a day – or more – for the rest of your life.  Then think about helping scholars.  Or think about establishing professorial chairs.  Yes, it is possible to make a donation for an endowment over time.  And yes, it is possible to give out of the box – as the Spirit blows. 

Finally, I thank all who made last night’s launch of our Fundraising Campaign, More Together, a success.  I thank Ms. Sansan Fernandez and the ADDU Blue Knights’ Association for co-hosting the event.  I thank Mr. Benjie Lizada, chair of the ADDU Board of Trustees and the attending members of the Board, Fr. Tony Basilio, Rector of the Jesuit Community, the members of the ADDU President’s Council, the iCOMMP profis and volunteers, the volunteer ushers, collaborators, performers, Su Doromal for overseeing the dinner, our emcee, Atty. Meong Cabarde, and my Assistant for Fundraising, Ms. Gracielle Tubera.

For ADDU, let us do More Together!

Gratefully in Our Lord,

Fr. Joel



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Looking Forward to the Heavenly Banquet


[Homily:  Assumption Chapel, 4 Nov. 2019]

There are some people who love to eat,  and loving to eat, they love to talk about food.  What is your favorite food?  How is it best prepared? Father Manny Perez is an expert on food.  And Lunar Fayloga is an expert on restaurants.  Having conversations with them often makes your mouth water.

Our gospel today is certainly about food.   But not only about food.  It is about meals.  And I am sure that you will find that in conversing with Father Manny or in talking with Lunar Fayloga you can also learn much about meals.

Culturally we Filipinos love our meals.  For us meals are good, not only when they bring us around a table with delicious food – grilled panga, sizzling bangus belly, roasted lechon, adobong manok, chicken apritada, lengua, callos, lasagna, spaghetti ala pomodoro and the like, of course, with the appropriate beverages – but when the table brings relatives, friends, loved-one, friends and possible new relatives and new friend together in congenial conversation and love.

Many of these meals are all the more important and anticipated because of what they celebrate.  The celebration of life – on a birthday; the celebration of love, on a wedding day; the celebration of achievement, on a graduation day; the celebration of fidelity, on an anniversary.  Meals also celebrate religious beliefs and convictions.  The Passover Meal celebrates God’s liberation of the Jews from slavery.  We, of course, celebrate the conviction of our salvation through the Christmas Meal and the all-important Eucharistic Meal.

For Jesus, meals were very important, and disclosed much about who he was, or they were occasions of disclosing much about himself.  Much of his ministry took place at the table.  He shared joyous meals with his disciples.  But also with tax collectors and sinners.  He was chided for eating with these ritually “unclean” people, be he ate with them demonstrably, if not provocatively, to bring out the values in the Kingdom of his Father.  He went to meals in the homes of religious leaders of the people, like the meal he went to on the invitation of Simon the Pharisee, when suddenly a woman gatecrashed to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears, wipe them with her hair, and anoint them with fragrant oil (cf. Lk 7: 36ff).  When he preached and the people were hungry, he himself provided the meal, fish and bread – for more than 5000 men, after which there were many leftovers.  Then, on the night before he suffered and died, he gathered his apostles gathered around the Passover table, an occasion which according to Luke included the sinner, Judas;  at this meal,  took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, Take this.  Eat it.  This is my Body broken for you.  Then he took wine, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying.  Take this.  Drink of it.  This is my blood shed for you.

What he said to his disciples, he says to all of us, sinners who would be redeemed and nourished by his wasted body, sinners who would be saved and washed in the blood of the lamb. In this forgiveness and redemption, all would have access to the great eschatological banquet prepared for us by the Father:  “You have a prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes;  my head you have anointed with oil.  My cup overflows” (Ps. 23:5).   “…The Lord of Hosts will make for his people a feast of choice pieces, a feast of matured wines, of fat things full of marrow, of well-refined wines”  (Is. 25:6-8).

It is in this context of the great eschatological meal, that Jesus says in our Gospel reading for today:

“Whenever you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters, or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors
In case they invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled the lame, the blind
Blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous“

(Luke 14:12-14)

Jesus is not saying do not invite your friends and relatives to lunch or dinner.

He is saying do not invite them just because you wish to be paid back – just because you wish to be included in their banquets.  Do not cheapen your table fellowship by your selfish ulterior motives.

He is saying, if you are a Christian, when you prepare a banquet, invite those who are normally excluded by society – the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind – those whom Jewish society normally excluded from polite table fellowship.  Invite them in the conviction that at the table of Jesus and in the eschatological banquet prepared by His Father these are included… these, the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, including yourself, are included… where inclusion is not a matter of your deserving because of your status, your achievements, your relatives and friends, nor because of your ritual cleanliness, but only because, at his Eucharistic meal, Jesus takes bread and says, “Take and eat, for this is my Body” and you eat, and Jesus takes wine, and says, “Take and drink, for this is my blood poured out for you,” and you drink.

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Shared Vulnerability, Relief and Responsibility


[Based on the Message of Fr. Joel to the ADDU Community in Assumption Chapel on Nov. 2nd after the Earthquakes of Oct. 29th and 30th]

With the earthquakes in the past days, we all shared a common experience of vulnerability.  The normally fixed and stable earth was shaking, terrifyingly, over and over.  Here, bookshelves, statues, water dispensers, vases, wine glasses toppled over;  Fr. Dan McNamarra was injured when a falling bookshelf grazed his left arm;  Fr. Rene Ocampo, while moving from our kitchen to our dining hall, was thrown off balance by the swaying door, fell to the floor and hit his head.  In Matina the grand Field Demo was interrupted; parents who witnessed the floor of the Martinez Hall move like waves panicked as our well-drilled learners moved in admirable order to safety.  However different the details of our experiences may have been, we came to a chilling realization anew of how vulnerable we are as human beings and how little control we have over basic conditions that keep us alive.

The experience of vulnerability came with an experience of shared human community.  We were suddenly all talking to people sharing the same terror, fear, anxiety, prayer, and relief.  Shaking, we all checked the same cellphones for information and guidance;  we all began to tell our stories of what happened to us and how we coped with our long minute of vulnerability and survived.  And when it happened again, survived anew.

As we can be grateful today that despite the damage in our lives we are alive, we know that our experience of shared human community extends far beyond the sacred walls of this chapel where, mysteriously, people were not as fortunate as we.

In this context, Ateneo de Davao University has already begun through its University Community Engagement and Advocacy Council (UCEAC) to mobilize help for communities adversely affected by the quakes.  Official reports state that among these in Region XII, were 29,349 families or 146, 745 persons; in our Region XI, were 4,127 families or 20,635 persons.


We are focusing our help on Tulunan in North Cotabato, whose Vice-Mayor is Maureene “Mau” Villamor, one of our psychology graduates and former President of the Samahan ng mga Mag-aaral of the college.  She heard our challenge of being a woman for others through ADDU sui generis leadership, so she is now serving her people in Tulunan – which was where the epicenter of the Oct. 29 quake was.  Today, she pleads for assistance for her people, asking esp. for:

Ready-to-eat food



Bottled water

Toys for Children

Food Packs




and assistance for trauma debriefing for children.

In this context, I beg you to help.  We taught Mau about sui generis leadership;  now let us help her.  Mr. Mark “Macoy” Samante, the chair of the UCEAC is here coordinating the University response with the Samahan ng mga Mag-aaral headed by Mr. Christian Dom Ang.

The drop-off point for donations is our Arrupe Hall (ground floor of the Martin Sports Complex).

We are accepting donations at the following accounts:

Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)
Account Name: Ateneo de Davao University
Acct. Number: 2881-0028-87
Swift Code: BOPIPHMM

Banco de Oro (BDO)
Account Name: Ateneo de Davao University
Acct. NUmber: 27000-904-26
Swift Code: BNORPHMM

(Please fax deposit slips to +63(82) 221-4737/+63(82) 221-4116/ +63(82) 221-2411 local 8262 or email them at,cc: for proper monitoring and accounting of cash donations)

In advance, I thank you, even as we thank the Lord that we are all alive.  May He bring the earthquakes to a halt, and may your generosity help people in need, especially the people of Tulunan.

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Celebrating The Vision of Huaming’s Founders Gratefully



[Homily:  Mass on the Occasion of the Inauguration of the Luis T. Ong Sports Pavillion and the Groundbreaking of the New St. John’s Institute North Point Academic Building, Talisay City, 20 October 2019.]

We come together this morning at this Northpoint Campus of Huaming or St. John’s Institute (SJI) on the 29th Sunday in Ordinary time in thanksgiving for the inauguration of the Luis T. Ong Sports Pavilion and the groundbreaking of the new SJI North Point Academic Building.  And what better way is there of giving thanks than through a festive gathering of Huaming’s academic community, its alumni, benefactors, and friends at this Eucharistic celebration led by our Fr. Arnold Deletina, the parish priest of Our Lady, Queen of Peace?

We give thanks for the generosity of Mr. Luis Ong whose quiet, humble life of trading in fishing equipment allowed him to send his three daughters to Huaming and then to contribute substantially to this sports center dedicated to the proposition of mens sana in corpore sano  – in a healthy body is a healthy mind.  In the prospect of developing healthy bodies through sports and athletics, there is prospect of developing healthy human beings who work hard to develop themselves in physical, personal and spiritual excellence, and in life to run the race for the greater glory of God.

Today, we thank God in this Eucharistic celebration not only for Mr. Ong, but for the very many other benefactors who have contributed of their time, talent and treasure – and continue to do so – to build up Huaming both in this North Point campus but also in its home campus in Bacolod.  It is that generosity that allows us this morning to break ground for Huaming’s new academic building.  Breaking ground is a celebration of the hope we share in supporting the education of Huaming’s learners in academic excellence according to the vision of Huaming’s founders.

In our second reading for today, St. Paul says to Timothy, “Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known the Sacred Scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ” (2 Tim 3:14).  Remain faithful to the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Use the Word of God “for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training for righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work. … Be persistent, whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2).  Is not what Paul is saying to Timothy at the heart of the original vision of Huaming’s founders?

What was this original vision of Huaming’s Founders?  It is good that on an occasion like this we recall it, since what brings us together today is not just gratitude for a new building and hope for yet another academic building.  What brings us together is a vision “that we have known from infancy” imparted to us by Msgrs. Liu and Su, a vision, as recently summarized by Mr. Fred Barcelona, Chairman of the Board, that was to  “unite the Filipino-Chinese communities in Bacolod, bring them to the knowledge and love of Christ and the fullness of Christian life and integrate them into the broader society while preserving was is true and noble in their cultural heritage.”  That vision already expressed itself in 1955 in the Chinese Catholic Center, but later also in 1959 in the establishment Huaming or St. John’s Institute of Bacolod.  Today, in grateful celebration as well of the 60th anniversary of the founding of St John’s Institute, we wish to renew ourselves in and draw inspiration from this vision of Huaming’s founders.  There are five points in that vision:

  • To unite the Filipino-Chinese communities in Bacolod: to bring the Filipino and Chinese communities, differentiated by religions, national histories, lived human histories, languages, values, ways of regarding family, work, learning, and life, in their disparity together, and somehow to unite them.  This was a goal that inspired the erstwhile Chinese Catholic Center and the establishment of Huamingthe school.
  • To bring them to the knowledge of love of Jesus Christ: this was a sacred goal of evangelization, to bring the Chinese to the Good News of Jesus Christ, to introduce them personally to Jesus Christ dwelling in their hearts through faith, that they being rooted and grounded in love that “may have the power together with all the saints to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of His love” and to “know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge” that they might be “filled with the fullness of God” (cf. Eph. 3:18). To bring Filipinos to a deeper knowledge of Christ and a more faithful following of him.
  • To bring them to the fullness of Christian life. Jesus said, “I have come to bring life, life to the full” (John 10:10). The Filipino and Chinese communities united in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ were to be led by the light of the Spirit (Huaming) to the fullness of life.  This was not a life truncated by poverty nor the mindless pursuit of power and money, diminished by arrogance and meanness, or sullied by corruption and deceit;  this was life-made-full in love and service of the other and in the pursuit of that common good where without exception all thrive in shared humanity.
  • To integrate them into the broader society. The united Filipino and Chinese communities are to be integrated into “broader society”:  the broader society of national life, or of life today in the midst of our Asian neighbors, where we must integrate ourselves with our neighboring countries, including China, but in so doing, bring with us the Light of Huaming, the light of our faith, the light which allows us insight into the fullness of life.
  • All this “preserving what is true and noble in their cultural heritage.” Amidst the Filipino cultural heritage, the richness of Chinese culture is to be preserved.  This includes the cultivation of the Chinese language, and the preservation of such values as harmony, the proper balance, and coordination between things, benevolence, courtesy, wisdom, honesty, and loyalty.

It is a wonderful vision, and today, 60 years after the founding of Huaming, all the more relevant as the vision that binds us together and lights our way into the future.  For today, the Chinese and Filipino communities still need to come together in shared community.  The Chinese and Filipino communities still need to be evangelized or re-evangelized into the love and power of Jesus Christ.  The Chinese and Filipino communities, from the strength of their shared genius, need to contribute to the establishing the fullness of life which Jesus brings where no one is hungry, no one is ignorant, no one is unproductive, no one is disrespected, no one is uncared for.  The Chinese and Filipino communities in Bacolod need now to help navigate our way as a nation into a future with our Asian neighbors, but especially with China, that is today  not just a Middle Kingdom, but a global power, challenging the civilizations of the West.  From Huaming we pray we be able today to do our part knowing Jesus Christ, who in teaching us of the fullness of life, also counseled us to be “wise as serpents and gentle as doves” (Mt 10:16).  In dealing with even the giants we must do so in self-possession, with harmony, without losing the balance between things, with benevolence, courtesy, wisdom, honesty, and loyalty.

Today in thanksgiving we draw strength for the future from the vision of our founders, and from the imperative of Huaming, the Light: “Be persistent,” Paul said, “whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching” (2 Tim 4:2).  Above all, he said, “Put on love, which is the bond of perfect unity.  Let the peace of Christ rule your hearts, for to this you were called as members of one Body.” (Eph. 14)







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The Rosary as Dialogue between Ourselves and the Father


[Homily:  Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.  Assumption Chapel. 7 October 2019]

October is the month of the Holy Rosary.  And today is the feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.  I am happy that in this university through various activities, from rosaries being prayed in our offices to living rosaries being celebrated in our various units, we are encouraged to renew ourselves in this powerful devotion.  There was a time when every Atenean was trained to carry a rosary in his or her pocket or purse.  Every Atenean was formed to pray the Rosary daily, and to grow in devotion to our Blessed Mother, who brings us to intimacy with her Son.

That devotion we may wish to renew today as we decide as a community to work towards the implementation of our new Vision and Mission and strategic plan.  With every Hail Mary, the Annunciation is recalled.  “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.”   The greeting to Mary recalls the whole conversation between the Angel Gabriel and Mary which ended in her, Fiat, her “Yes, let it be done unto me according to your word.”  With every Pray for us sinners, our admission that what is done in our lives is often not according to God’s will, and so our plea to Mary to pray for us, now and at the hour of our death.

But recalling the Annunciation, recalls – as St. Ignatius contemplates it – the entire mystery of the Incarnation, the momentous mystery where what is recalled is not only Mary’s yes to the Angel, but God’s yes to humanity, the Father’s refusal to say no by damning humanity that had estranged itself from him.  This began his cosmic labor of reconciling humanity with himself, of reconciling human beings with one another, and of reconciling humanity with creation, through the Incarnation of his Word, his Word of compassion and love, his yes.  Through every Hail Mary, we are invited to participate in the Father’s work of reconciliation by joining our yes to our Blessed Mother saying yes to the yes of the Father.

In praying regularly the joyful, luminous, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries we recall gratefully key mysteries of the Father’s reconciling activity in salvation history through the Son in the Spirit:  the Joyful Mysteries:  the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Birth of our Lord, the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple, the Finding of our Lord in the Temple;  the Luminous Mysteries: the baptism of our Lord, the Marriage Feast of Cana, the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God, the Transfiguration, the Last Supper; the Sorrowful Mysteries:  the Agony of Our Lord in the Garden, the Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowning with Thorns, the Carrying of the Cross, the Crucifixion and Death of our Lord; the Glorious Mysteries, the Resurrection, the Ascension of our Lord into Heaven, the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, the Crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth.

In praying the rosary regularly, we each enter into the intimate dialogue that the Father initiates with us through the Incarnation of His Son and his suffering, death, and resurrection working out our reconciliation. With each mystery of the Rosary, the Father speaks a special word of love to us, a special word of understanding, a special word of challenge;  with each mystery of the Rosary we are invited in dialogue to respond to the Father speaking to us in our lives, intervening to make things right in our lives, to put things in order, to raise us to a more profound union him or others through his reconciling activity.  With each mystery, we are confronted with the profound but chilling mystery:  We can say yes.  Be it done to me according to your word.  Thy will be done.  Or we can say no.  Be it done to me according to my word.  Be it done to me as I will.  My will be done.

An example can be the Gospel passage that is proclaimed in today’s Gospel.  The disciples ask, as we often do, what must be done to attain eternal life.  We can recall this Gospel when we come to the third of the luminous mysteries, Jesus proclaiming the Kingdom of God.  In the Kingdom of God, the reign of God is accepted.  Any distance we may have from God because of our pride, our activism, our conceit, our bloated self-image, our selfishness is overcome.  And if it is not, the Father in dialogue with us may be inviting us to recall his goodness and providence, and in his Spirit to see through our self-posturing and self-deceit.  In this mystery, the Father may also be inviting us to recall who our neighbor is, and how easy it is in self-righteousness or personal smugness to fail to recognize and respond to the neighbor – who may be a Samaritan on the road, but also a fellow worker who is hurting, a friend who is in crisis, a stranger who is wounded and hungry.  In this dialogue, we are invited to respond.

So I invite you to pray the rosary to help all of us participate more deeply in the Father’s work of reconciliation.  In every mystery of the Rosary the Father is talking to us, and, as in every dialogue, we are being invited to respond to him.  At the beginning of every decade, we pray, “Thy Kingdom come.  Thy will be done.  On earth… here and now.   At the end of every decade, we pray, “Glory be to this Father who reconciles us to himself in his Son through the Spirit.”  We even say, in the spirit of St. Ignatius, ad majorem Dei Gloriam!  Unto the greater glory of this God who loves us so much, he sends us his Son to seek us out and bring us back to him, to help us recognize the gift we have in each other, and to form us into a community of faith, hope, and love in our shared common home.






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Towards Mindanao Well-Being and Development

american corner 2019

[Welcome Address: American Corner Talks. Davao. Sept. 30, 2019.]

It is my privilege to welcome you to the US Embassy’s American Corner Talks with the theme: Contributions to Peace and Security: Toward Mindanao Well-Being and Resilience

I welcome the resource persons:

Mr. John Harvey Gamas, an Alumnus of the Study of the US Institutes and Chair of the International Studies Department of the ADDU who will speak on: the Contribution of International Relations and Multilateral Diplomacy to Peace and Security

Dr. Rec Eguia, a Humphrey Fellow and Dean of Advanced Studies, of the University of Southeast Philippines who will spake on the Contribution of Education and Research to Peace and Security to Peace and Security

And Datu Mussolini S. Lidasan a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority and Director of the Al Qalam Institute on Muslim Identities and Dialogue in SE Asia who will speak on the Contribution of Community Development and Dialogue to Peace and Security.

So we are interested in greater insight into peace and security from the vantage points of International Relations and Diplomacy, Education and Reseach, and Community Develop and Dialogue.  But we are interested in Peace and Security as these are relevant to Mindanao’s Well Being and Resilience.

Certainly, past Midterm of the first President of the Philippines from Mindanao, the status of Mindanao’s well being and resilience is certainly worth addressing, as the President pursues the nation’s liberation from drug abuse and corruption, the development of the nation’s infrastructure, but continues to be stymied by the traffic problem in EDSA.  Has the President from Mindanao been able to increase the Mindanaoans’ well being and resilience?  Or have things deteriorated?

Has the Pivot to China in the West Philippine Sea, the pivot away from trust in the Mutual Defence Treaty with the United States, the pivot towards more reliance even in matters of security on ASEAN, made us feel more secure?  Have we been able to find greater or less security in the relationships we have with the United States or the European Union when the  unabashed taglines today are America First or Brexit or, more recently, on both sides of the Atlantic, impeachment? Is there a global order that we are all working towards that would secure the global common good, when globalization is attacked by a resurgent nationalism, and the one country that remains constant in its global vision through its Belt and Road Initiative is China, the same China that the Hong Kong youth seem so determined to break away from.

Are our instruction and research that comes from our universities or our institutes for peace sufficient to give us the wisdom we need to chart a course for independence yet relatedness relative to the countries that impact on us?

In Mindanao, the Bangsamoro organic law has been passed and the BARMM has been initiated.  But has this increased or decreased Mindanao’s well being and resilience.  Where guns have been de-commissioned, and violent soldiers metamorphosed into productive citizens, is there enough political will to overcome insecurities to make productive decisions for the common good?  What is the trajectory of community development – the restoration of traditional ethnic power blocks or the new emergence of inter-ethnic groups cooperating with one another to achieve the common good through social justice?

It seems to me a fundamental matter needs to be resolved as to whether peace and well being will be established through the language of coercion and enforcement, or through the language of dialogue,  understanding, and free collaboration.  Is peace enforced through the barrel of a gun or achieved through the compulsion of insight and wisdom based on historical experience? Do we legislate more peace and security through such as ROTC or improving our insight into history, international relations, diplomacy, and dialogue?  For peace is not just the absence of violence, but the imperative of insight into conditions that can bring about human flourishing and that diverse peoples agree upon to realize.

But the experts are here.  Let us listen to the experts.  May we all have a fruitful afternoon together.



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