THIS is my joy that I am able to serve you and I am praying for us as we are going to enter into a very special series. God knows what you need. He knows what you need to hear. So, I’m praying that you are going to hear it right now in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Our one big message today is this: Love is on the way. And I am praying that Love is on the way toward your direction right now.
Where does this come from?
Okay. Let me breathe. Because this is going to be difficult.
Love is on the way. This one big message is in my reflection on the passing on of a dear, beloved friend, Fr. Michael La Guardia.
We honored him last week. I just want to tell you one story about him. Sigh…Yes, my heart is grieving…
Can you imagine… He was only 56 years old—so young… His passing so sudden… Like, we were just exchanging messages online a few days ago… And all of a sudden…
So, yes, sometimes, when I think of Fr. Michael…
I’m sad, I am very sad. But there is this beautiful moment when I smile. And the reason is this: I remember how much he loved us and how he loved me. Because he is so personal in his love.
Mike Viñas, one of our preachers, posted this about Fr. Michael: “You know, akala ko lang ang special sa iyo…I thought I was the only one special to him. You know, Fr. Michael…he made you feel like he loves you, like you are special to him. And akala ko ako lang ang close sa inyo. ‘Yun pala, lahat ng tao—which is amazing.”
Anyway, I was sick with the Coronavirus Disease (COVID). When I was recuperating, you know what Fr. Michael would do? He would visit me, give me Holy Communion.
And I’m telling you, I would tell him, my wife Marowe would tell him, “Fr. Michael, you know, nakakahiya… You’re very busy…”
And then, he would say, these are his words: “It’s okay. You’re on the way.”
And that struck me, as in, “Wait a minute…Waaait a minute…”
May I share with you what he did?
He said he was supposed to visit his mom. Now, I want you to think with me… Geographically: Fr. Michael is here… he is in Bicutan (a barangay in Taguig City). We are on Sucat Road, Parañaque. And Fr. Michael’s mom is in Mandaluyong. Okay?
So, when he said, “It’s on the way, you’re on the way,” I am like, “Fr. Michael, you’re brilliant. Man, you’re a great theologian. You’re an amazing Bible teacher. But right now, your logic is failing you because I’m not on your way. You’re there in Bicutan, in the middle (in between Sucat and Mandaluyong) and all you have to do, from Bicutan, is turn right to get to Mandaluyong. You know what, he turned left toward Sucat to get to me.”
And that’s my reflection for you: If you love a person, you’re always on the way toward him. Because Love is always on the way.
When I think about Fr. Michael, and the way he loved—56 is a short, short, short life—the more I reflect on his life, the more I realize:
Friends, at the end of your life, you will not be remembered by your wealth, by how nice your clothes were, by the great trophies you had on your shelves. You’re not going to be remembered by your eloquence, not your so many achievements, not by your skills…
You will be remembered by how much love you gave.
And so, this is our reading for today…I pray that God’s Word blesses you… It’s in Mark and it starts with verse 21…
I want you to know, in the Gospels, we read that generally, rulers in the synagogue are very much against the Jewish leaders. But you know, when you have this little daughter of yours, all of a sudden you have humility. And I really believe that– not sometimes, many times—God allows us to have this desperation, this need in our life because it forces us to be humble, and it forces us to open our eyes, and just say, “Oh, I need to go to God.”
The woman, she was a symbol of Israel, and in Israel—in Jerusalem, specifically— in the temple, there was this ongoing flow of blood from the animal sacrifices. And it says here that she has suffered for 12 years—that is like a wink from the author, that she represents the 12 tribes of Israel.
Just like Jairus, she was also desperate. I love, love, love this story because Jesus did not call her out, “Hey, you, need healing? Come…”
No. It was this woman going to Jesus– telling us that if you have a need of Him, His heart is open. His love is open. His house is open. His arms are open. You approach Him and you receive what you need.
Again, I love this story because it’s the availability of grace that’s in front of us. That all we have to do is approach Him and receive that grace.
Jesus’ disciples said, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask who touched you?”
This gives me another reflection…Everyone was touching Jesus. So many were touching Him. But only one woman received grace and healing. Because she believed. She trusted. And she touched Him as an expression of that trust.
Do you trust in God? Do you believe that God is there in your life right now, wanting to bless you?
And when Jesus was still speaking to the woman, messengers arrive from the camp of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue.
They told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling with the Teacher now.”
But Jesus overheard them and He said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”
Again, the number 12.
His Throne Is Very Different
I want you to think about the new Israel. Yes, Jesus being resurrected and then giving them something to eat… Because Jesus is the Bread of Life.
So, I bring you this truth: It’s like a sandwich story. Jairus asking Jesus for help but in between them, you’ve got this woman who was an “interruption”.
You had a plan. You’re supposed to go to the house of Jairus but in between, someone comes along…
Love is on the way.
It’s not logical. There are times in your life where God calls you to love someone, and it’s not logical. You are like, “What would be the benefit for me? What’s in it for me?”
People say that’s what drives and motivates all our actions:
“What’s in it for me? If there’s something for me, I will do it…”
But Love goes out of its way. You do something illogical.
It’s coming to you. Jesus loves you. But He is also inviting you to come to Him.
Can you let His Love make you go out of your way to love the people He sends you to?
August 15, 2021
LET us now discuss the elements of Love. All real love must be pastoral. And pastoral love means to notice.
Jesus always noticed those who nobody else did. Especially the woman suffering from hemorrhage. Nobody would go near her. She was called unclean by everyone. Certainly, no one would marry her. But she needed love. She needed compassion. And she needed cleansing.
Jesus immediately sensed that about her. And He responded in a powerful way. She was healed.
Lovable. Forgivable. Redeemable.
You and I are called to disciple others. We often hear that phrase: Disciple others.
What that does mean?
That means you make the first move. Look for someone in your barangay nobody bothers about, nobody invites. Invite him for a cup of coffee.
You’re not evangelizing right away. You’re making your talk your walk. You’re making a commitment; you stick with it.
Finally, by the grace of God and the Holy Spirit, that friendship grows when you introduce your friend to Jesus. Perhaps, by way of The Feast.
The way I’d seen that done was at a parish in Quezon City, in the Immaculate Concepcion Church, through Fr. Tony Olaguer. Fr. Olaguer was pastor there for two years.
During Holy Week, on Holy Thursday, we reenact Jesus’ Washing of the Feet of the Apostles. We choose 12 men to act as the apostles. Normally, what pastors do is chose ministers or the ushers or those who are involved in parish activities. And, of course, they would show up with their feet thoroughly washed already.
Fr. Tony did something radical I knew never done anywhere. He said to his pastoral assistant, Caloy, “I want you to go into the barangay and find 12 men. They must be alcoholics, addicts, gamblers…You tell them that Fr. Tony wants them to be the apostles on Holy Thursday, to have their feet washed.
And so Caloy found 12 men, and they made a commitment to attend the meeting at the parish church (to know what they would do). When they showed up, they saw it wasn’t just coffee and doughnuts. Fr. Tony put up a beautiful Filipino spread—all catered. The men were stunned. They sat down and they had a wonderful time with Fr. Tony who talked with each one of them.
Then, after the meal, Fr. Tony told them to turn their chairs toward him. As they did, Caloy came bringing a big basin filled with soapy water.
He said, “Take off your sandals.”
The men were shocked as they took off their sandals. Their feet were grimy, oily, dirty. And Fr. Tony went to each of the men and washed their feet thoroughly.
And then Fr. Tony got up and said, “That’s what we’re going to do next Thursday. What I’d just done, I want you to know, I’m your pastor and I want you in this church.”
Sure enough, the men were amazed. And the following Thursday, they called themselves The Brotherhood of St. Joseph. And among the members of this group, amazingly enough, I was told, some of them became entrepreneurs and became wealthy—all of them off smoking, off drugs, off alcohol. That group now has some 100 members.
And soon all those around were warmed up by its glowing and that’s how it is with God’s Love.
So, you are invited to disciple others. How do you do that? By calling them home, by being with them, by surprising them.
You know, St. James tells us that if we do that, if we bring even only a person home, that covers a multitude of sins, of our sins.
So, I say to you, disciple each other, and others with pastoral love. Make a friend. Be a friend. And introduce that friend to The Feast and your Friend, Jesus.
August 15, 2021
THE second element of Love is: Love is personal.
Our Bible story has two main characters with Jesus: Jairus and the bleeding woman.
One person is named, one is unnamed. Both Jesus recognized. Big person, small person.
Jesus knows us personally. He knows everything that we need.
When we say love is personal and open up our life— the doors of our life to those who love, no-holding back– we make them come in like a visitor in our house. And they can feel at home. They can dine, they can watch TV, they can lounge around, and enjoy the comforts of home, somehow, they can stay overnight.
We welcome them in and they can become part of our home. And we share our dreams, hopes, pains, love to them. No holding back. We make them part of our life forever.
Fr. Michael La Guardia, spiritual formator and Mass presider of The Feast, and president of the Don Bosco School of Theology, and a professor there. Big and heavy credentials.
For us who know him personally, we know that he didn’t wear those badges when he was people.
I get to hear stories now from so many, so many testimonies about Fr. Michael expressed his love even in the small things: Fr. Michael remembered names. He replied to the messages people send him no matter how busy he was. He called people up in their time of need. In his own way, he made many persons feel special. Great acts of love are easily recognized. But really, it’s the small things that matter.
I remember in The Feast Mall of Asia, Fr. Michael would go to many Ministries, big and small groups, not as a VIP but really just being one with us, giving so many valuable directions. But also, there were times that he would just spend moments with us, even with no agenda.
I remember Joanna, one of his Feast sisters. She said that there was this just two-minute call from Fr. Michael that changed the course of her life… Fr. Michael was about to celebrate the Mass in less than five minutes. But Fr. Michael took time to call her up because he knew that Joanna’s dad was dying in the hospital at that time. And Fr. Michael called to comfort her, to give spiritual support— and Joanna said that was enough to keep her faith in the Lord. It was like Jesus talking to her even for just two minutes.
You have two minutes my friends? That can alter, change the life of others.
And even our personal life. Because Love is personal. It got so personal as with my family. One time, in the middle of the night, my wife Mayi had a fight and I went to his place (for advice).
Fr. Michael said, “Fight for each other. Do not fight each other.”
I remember he would give gifts to our daughter Hailey and son Hosea.One time, he gave them Mickey Mouse toys which were part of Fr. Michael’s own Mickey Mouse collection. That’s how personal Fr. Michael could get.
We give the people we love the constant permission to bother us, to burden us, to invade our world. And come to think of it, it is such times that we prove our love for each other. When the going gets tough, our personal love toughens us up.
We’re better together.
Fr. Michael would say, “Sus, ano ba ‘bother’ o ‘burden’? Wala sa vocabulary ko ‘yan for the people I consider as family.”
We are his family too. Fr. Michael was so personal with The Feast.
He embraced his role as a shepherd caring for his flock.
“Feed my sheep,” he always said.
He knew each sheep close to him.
“Ano yung life story mo?”
He started the conversation with that question with someone coming to him for spiritual direction. He was genuinely interested in each one of us. He listened to our struggles, wishes, prayers, sins. Even in his last days, he thought of us.
(When COVID hit him) I told him, “Fr. Michael, personalan na ito. I need to bring you to the hospital—if you don’t want anyone else to know…”
He said, “Yes.”
Finally. I told him to get ready, prepare his personal belongings for possible hospitalization. And when I got to his place, I saw he was breathless. I noticed he brought only a small backpack and what I got to see inside the bag was his laptop and charger. He still planned to do modules for his formation program classes.
He was thinking of others. That’s how personal he was to his commitments.
I myself had a personal relationship with Fr. Michael. He was my confessor and my confidante. Mayi trusted him more than anyone else—I hope except me. He baptized our son Hosea and he was Hosea’s ninong, godparent, at the same time.
He said, “Decision ito ng buhay ko. Panghabangbuhay na ito. This is my life decision. This is already for my lifetime.”
And he lived up to his words.
He had many roles in The Feast but he was personal with his sheep.
I am happy to share with you that Fr. Michael opened up with us. He shared his life stories, his wants, his wishes with us, things that irritated him, his innermost desires.
He always thought of his mom and sister. He told stories about his family and his dad—how he wrestled with God because of his dad’s illness.
And he trusted God and continued serving as God’s priest. He had a goal. He wanted to be vaccinated in Europe because he said there’s a passion play which happens to be mounted there only every 10 years. He was looking forward to catch the play.
He said, “If I pass this up, I’ll be a senior already in the next 10 years.”
His favorite food was Crispy Pata. He loved it. He liked Spaghetti with the sauce and the cheese separated from the noodles. He loved chocolate cake.
When he gave gifts, he personally wrote his greetings with his beautiful handwriting. You know he loved you because you can really see how he packaged his gift for you. He took a lot of time to write his message – so meaningful, the message was the gift itself.
Fr. Michael didn’t like The Feast so much before because he thought
The Feast was leading people away from the parishes where they should be.
But one time, when he was to preside over the Mass at The Feast at the Philippine International Convention Center, he took time to talk to the participants lining up at the back of the building to get to our venue.
Fr. Michael talked with the people about their needs and he asked them where was their parish church.
And all the persons he asked replied, “Wala po.”
(They didn’t belong or did not know they belong to a parish church.)
And that was when Fr. Michael realized that The Feast was a safe place where people without shepherd can be led to Jesus.
From then on, Fr. Michael became personal to us. He decided to commit to us– not just to the ministerial organization, but to each person he got to do Ministry with.
I am grateful, we are grateful that there was a time in our life that we had a chance
to journey with Fr. Michael La Guardia.
Now I know what it means when we say Love is personal.
Fr. Michael, kung di ba naman pagmamahal ang tawag mo diyan… if that is not what you call Love…
We miss you. We love you. We were changed by how you loved us personally.
Be happy in Heaven.
It is now our turn to love personally.
August 15, 2021
LOVE is pastoral and personal. Beautiful messages. Thank you Bro. Bo, Fr. Michael, and Bro. Didoy.
Let me now give you the final element of Love: Love is intentional.
I want us now to focus on the story of this woman who was bleeding for 12 long years. I want us to picture her for a few moments…When this woman was bleeding for 12 long years, there was this miracle for her by the name of Jesus. He was passing through her town. I imagine that she probably left everything— iniwan niya yung sinaing niya, yung pinaplantsa niya, yung tindahan niya— she left the rice she was cooking, the clothes she was ironing, her store. She rushed to the street to find Jesus.
Now, Jesus was surrounded by a big entourage at that time. But you know what, Scripture says she managed to push through that massive crowd and somehow, she found herself close enough to Jesus.
Mark 5: 27 says:
Aren’t you glad that Jesus was not insensitive like, to you and me? You know, He’s not like that crush that you have who ignores you every time you message him/her, as though you never existed. I don’t know about you but I’m grateful that Jesus sees me and that He feels me.
But let me explain this, all right?
The disciples could not understand why Jesus even had to ask who touched Him. But that’s because they did not know the difference between pressing and touching.
So many were pressing on Jesus. That’s a fact. That’s what the Bible says. The people might had been, you know, rubbing elbows with Him, grazing His garment. And they didn’t probably feel His Presence.
But it wasn’t until this woman touched Him that Jesus felt the power go out from Him.
A famous theologian by the name of Augustine said:
I want us to know that there’s a huge difference between accidentally coming into contact with Jesus and intentionally reaching out to Him. What’s the difference?
It’s called Faith.
See, someone who witnessed the miraculous healing of that woman could probably say, “But you know, I also touched Him. How come I wasn’t healed?”
Somebody watching this talk live stream could say, “You know, I’ve been praying to God. I did the Novena. I did the readings. I prayed the Scriptures. But how come I haven’t received that miracle?”
Listen to me. You can bump into Jesus week after week but it won’t release His Power until you intentionally reach out to Him in faith.
The woman didn’t even have to touch the skin of Jesus. She knew that she only needed to touch the robe.
Yes, that might have been considered superstitious but Jesus still honored her. All because of the intention of her faith. Her intentional faith was what
If you can be intentional with your faith and then stretch your hand out
to Jesus, you don’t have to see Him.
But if you can believe in your heart that He’s listening to you, looking at you, I believe that that’s the kind of faith that will produce miracles.
Jesus said this in verse 34:
I love that Jesus was so intentional about loving this unclean woman. She must had been so embarrassed, right? Because that’s how unclean people were at the time. They were embarrassed to be seen in public because they believed that they were cursed and forsaken by God. So, they didn’t want to be seen by others. But Jesus somehow intentionally called out to this woman from the crowd much to her horror.
Imagine this: She was trying her best not to make a commotion. She was trying to make her way to Jesus, not wanting the attention.
Jesus, for some reason, called her out of the big crowd and so this unclean woman was now out in the open for the world to see.
Now, why did Jesus do that? Why did He need to call her out like that? I mean, He could have just secretly healed her. But He chose not to. Instead,
He posted it all over Twitter!
Let me repeat it: Because Love is intentional.
Jesus wanted to intentionally teach the crowd and also teach the woman something.
Now, let me give you the lessons:
First: Jesus wanted to tell everyone that even the most unclean person deserves to be loved. Even the most unlovable persons in the world – guess what—they are special in the eyes of God.
Yes, even that tsimosa, that gossip neighbor of yours. Even that philandering politician you hate. Even that spouse of yours you don’t like thinking about. Guess what—they are special in the eyes of Lord. God wants to save everyone – even if it means saving you from yourself.
So, if you have been feeling insecure lately,
God wants you to know:
Come on, declare: “I am loved.”
Declare it if you believe that.
Second, I believe Jesus wants you to know:
Jesus called out the woman from the crowd, even as she secretly touched Him to be healed.
Now, why is that? Because Jesus didn’t want the woman to think that she stole a blessing from Him.
Think about that… If Jesus didn’t stop and call her attention, you know, that woman might think that that’s how God blesses us. That we can somehow manipulate God into blessing us.
But that’s not the case, right?
Because God’s Love is intentional. Jesus intentionally called that woman “Daughter” — as a matter of fact.
And, you know, He doesn’t use that term very often. It was a special term of endearment, a gesture of tenderness from Jesus.
And He did it intentionally because He wanted us to know that when
He calls us out from the crowd, it is not because He wants to harm us, not because to embarrass us. But because He has something special for us.
Because with God, He blesses you. He loves you. You are intentionally loved and you are intentionally blessed.
Now, note that the woman distracted Jesus. Let’s not forget that Jairus, the synagogue leader, was waiting for Jesus to go to his house to heal his daughter. It must had been torture for him to see Jesus healing this woman while his daughter suffered at home.
And I say this because to those who at the moment God is healing, God is quick. But to those who are waiting for something from God, God is slow.
God seems quick when you’re receiving the blessing but God seems slow when you’re waiting for a blessing.
But I say God is always right on time. God is always on the way. Praise God for that. When you’re waiting for a blessing, it feels like forever, doesn’t it?
In our waiting for His blessing, He teaches us something. In our waiting, He is actually working. Remember in our waiting Jesus is also personal. He knows us from the inside out. And He knows what we are struggling with and He has the compassion to suffer and wait with us. But best of all, remember that He is intentional. Nothing that He does is accidental because He is moved by purpose and mission.
He intentionally wanted to go to Jairus’s house and He intentionally entertained the delay caused by this woman.
As Bro. Bo earlier said, Fr. Michael La Guardia really intended to visit him that’s why he said he was on the way to Bro. Bo’s house– even it was really to the opposite direction. (Fr. Michael was in Bicutan. He was going to visit his mother in Mandaluyong. Bro. Bo’s house is on Sucat, Parañaque. It was not on the way to the house of Fr. Michael’s mother in Mandaluyong.
Bro. Bo’s place was actually out of Fr. Michael’s way.)
But because Fr. Michael’s love was intentional, he was on the way.
Let me preach this as clear as I can…Loving the unlovable is not the easiest route. Carrying your cross is not the most convenient mission to pursue. Forgiving someone who hurts you again and again is not the most ideal path to take. Sharing Heaven for a slice of suffering on Earth is probably the worst choice you could ever make.
But guess what… Jesus chose all those. Why? Because you and I are on the way.
I mean, too many times, when someone asks us to do something that is not convenient for us–like that one time when your parent asked you to do that important errand, and you know you were in the middle of good movie. Or that one time when your spouse asked you to fetch her, but you wanted to relax. Or that time when your friend needed a friend and you wanted to put top priority to some matters of great consequence and you were like, “Hassle naman, e.”
But you know what, here’s the truth: When you love someone, you know you would be willing to go the farthest distance. When you love someone, you would be willing to cross even the most inconvenient paths. You would be willing to go out of your way to serve that person you love.
Because that’s what Love does. Love is intentional. Love is sacrificial.
Love goes out of the way.
Jesus went out of His way to heal the daughter of Jairus. He went out of His way to heal the bleeding woman.
And think about this: God went out of His way to be with you and me. And Jesus calls us to do the same, my dear friends, to intentionally go out of our way
to look for the lost, to heal the broken.
So, let’s get out of our ego. Let’s get out of our past hurts. Let’s get jealousy out of the way. Let’s get our selfish agenda out of the way. And let’s get Love on the way.
Tell people that you are on the way. Love is on the way. You are on the way even though you are far. You are on the way. You are always on the way.