Thursday, April 26, 2012

Are you buddies with the Shepherd?

(This Bible Reflection was done in Ospital ng Maynila - Department of Family Medicine)
Opening Prayer
Our most loving God
You are the good shepherd
Who leads us to the green pasture of life
Guide us today in our study that we may be nourished in our spiritual life

Gospel: John 10:11-18


The Gospel text tells of Jesus describing him. Jesus uses the story of a shepherd and the sheep. Who is the shepherd and who are the sheep?

It is understandable that sheep are common animals in Jesus time but there should be a reason for Jesus to use them as an image. Now there are different characteristics of sheep, what are some that you know? Of the many traits of the sheep, Jesus points to one particular characteristic of the sheep that defines the relationship of shepherd and sheep, the recognition of the sheep of their shepherd. Jesus said, “I know my sheep and they know me.

Now, here is the assumption: we are all Christians here. If Jesus is the good shepherd, with us being called Christians, we are the sheep. The question for us now, how well do we know our shepherd? Are we really like the sheep that Jesus said “know me (Jesus)?”

To know Jesus means to be close to Jesus. Imagine your best buddy in high school; you can say that you know that person inside out because you are close to him/her. How did you get close to him/her? You probably spent most of the day with your friend. You constantly talk to your friend about any stuff. You may even be conversing or talking in the phone until dawn. You probably did stuff together, especially the crazy stuff of your teenage life. But how about now, are you still as close to your friend? If your best friend already has a family of his/her own or is now living abroad, you probably felt you are not as close as before. Although once you get together during reunions, it’s like the old times again. To know someone is to be close to that person. But how close are we to Jesus?

John Wesley, an Anglican priest and founder of Methodism, used a spirit meter to gauge one’s closeness to Jesus. He uses this meter everyday to reflect how he fared in his journey towards Christ-likeness. From the spirit meter, he can better assess his efforts in responding to God’s grace. Let us try to use the same meter and see how close are we to Jesus today? One is farthest and ten is closest to Jesus.
Now, in the midst of our work and in the middle of the week, most of us will answer that we are 5 or 6 in our spirit meter. Obviously, we want to say our score is 10. That is our goal, to be super close to Jesus. How can we be closer to Jesus to say that we know him?

To be close to someone means to know how one speaks, thinks and act. To know someone well, we have to be constantly exposed to him, communicates with him, acts like him and be with him. This is also true with Jesus. We need to dilute ourselves of Jesus like joining in Christian fellowship and attending mass, we need to talk to him – by praying always and reading the Bible, and we need to act like Jesus like doing random acts of kindness. Let us always be in the presence of Jesus to know our good Shepherd. We need to be buddies with the shepherd to say we know him. We need to spend a great time with Jesus to be close to him and to know him even more. That is our challenge – exert more effort to spend more time with Jesus.

Closing Prayer
Our most loving and gracious God
You are the Good Shepherd
Who have called us to the good pasture to feed us with your living Word
Nourish us with your love and wisdom with what we have learned from our Bible study today
That we may be able to know you better. Amen.

Friday, April 20, 2012

He is alive!!!

(This Bible Reflection was done in Ospital ng Maynila – Family Medicine Department)

A Reflection on Luke 24:36-48.

Opening Prayer:

Jesus our Lord and Savior,

You are the eternal and Living God,

Who rose up from the dead on the third day

Make us recognize your living presence in our midst

That we may become your witnesses from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Amen.

How would you react if you see somebody you knew was already dead? Imagine the patient you just pronounced dead a few days ago is now alive and up on his feet?

This is what the disciples experienced. Jesus died three days ago and now Jesus appeared before his disciples. The Gospel of Luke says the disciples were surprised, why? Would you be surprised too?

And then to prove to his disciples Jesus is really alive and it is really him, he shows his nail marks and wounds. And then after doing these, Jesus asks for food, can you tell me why?

The Gospel tells us that Jesus is alive. That is the good news. We have a risen Christ, he is not dead!

But, what does it mean to have a Living Lord? What does it mean to you?

As Christians in the workplace, we are like the disciples of Jesus. We are scared because we think our Lord is dead. And so our faith is also dead. It shows how we manifest our faith in our workplace. Can you tell me how do you show your Christian faith in your workplace?

Is your faith dead like you worship a dead God, or is your faith alive appropriate for a living God? As Christians in the workplace, our task is to be witnesses to our workplace – our own Jerusalem, that Christ is alive. My favourite analogy about Christian living is that our Christian life here on earth is like a training of what our life is in heaven. We start learning here on earth what we will be doing in heaven forever. If we have a living faith, we should act, speak and think everyday like Jesus would, then we get to experience a little of heaven.

Showing our faith is like prescribing medicine. We prescribe a certain Brand A of Co-Amoxiclav because we trust this medicine to be effective. Our trust in the medicine could be due to many reason. On the other hand, we do not prescribe the other Brand B because we know it will not be effective. Similarly, we show our Christian faith because we truly trust and believe that Christ is risen. If we have some doubts about Christ being the Son of God or of Christ being risen from the dead then we do not proclaim it just like we do not prescribe untrustworthy drugs. Therefore, we are witnesses thate Jesus is alive because we believe it to be so.

We can be witnesses of a living Christ through showing of a living faith. One Christian discipline demonstrating a living faith is prayer. But, how often do you pray? A living faith prays every time, everywhere. And so my brothers and sisters; be witnesses that Jesus is alive by showing in your workplace that you have a living faith. Practice being a Christian to show a living faith. Pray always.

Now, who wants to be a witness that their faith is alive? Who wants to lead us in closing prayer?

Closing Prayer:

Eternal and Living God

Who is the giver of all life

Breath unto us your Holy Spirit that our faith may once again be alive and dynamic

Awaken our sleeping souls and send us to become witnesses of the risen Christ starting in the Jerusalem of our workplace throughout the ends of the earth. Amen.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Prayer for Hire

I went to see a patient today who was dying of Gastric cancer, stage 4. Her daughter asked me to pray for the patient because she is now delirious and incoherent with her BP going down. The attending physician said the patient's prognosis is not too good. Part of the pastoral care was to intercede in prayer for the patient and her family. So, I asked the daughter and the sister of the patient what was their prayer request? The patient's daughter simply said, "just do your thing and pray."

At the back of my head, I was reflecting on what those words meant? What did she mean by that? She called mo to intercede, to pray WITH them in their difficult time but it turned out prayer was just "MY" thing. Yes, not "THEIR" not even "OUR" but "MY" thing. Was it because people do not know how to pray anymore or people do not want to pray? No, I think it was because people no longer see praying as part of their task as Christians. Praying now has become the thing only for those providing "spiritual care." People see praying as a task reserved only for the "religious workers." It seems prayers today are for hire.

Of course, prayer can be a complex thing. Just grab a book that talks about the theology of prayer and you wonder how can a simple conversation with God can become so complicated. But it is never difficult to pray. A heart that genuinely talks to God is in prayer. No matter what talk.

I called the daughter to come close. I asked her again, "do you want to pray to God and ask that God will comfort your mother especially in her pain?" She said, "Yes." I asked the daughter to come closer and hold her mother's hand. I said, "God heard your prayer and is comforting your Mom through your hands."