Talks

ALVIN BARCELONA: I’m going to read to you the Gospel verses that followed after the verses read in the Mass. From John 20:11-18:

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

10But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you.

14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.—John 20:11-18 ESV

Big Question: Do You Want To See Jesus?

Of course. But let’s learn from Mary Magdalene as we had already learned from Bishop Ted a while ago.

Three important secrets:

First Secret of why Mary Magdalene saw Jesus: She was present. You want to see Jesus?

No. 1:

Mary Magdalene was the first to go to the tomb of Jesus to anoint the Body of the Lord—after the Sabbath. He died on Friday. (The following day was Saturday, the Sabbath, and according to Jewish custom, the anointment ritual should not be done on the Sabbath because it was rest day, away from the cares of the world, a time of silence with God). Mary saw the tomb was empty. So, she ran to the apostles, specifically to Peter, and to the disciples whom Jesus loved.

And then, they ran. The Gospel said that the disciple whom Jesus loved ran first.

But it was Peter who went inside the tomb and saw the linen cloth. And then the disciple followed.


But still, they did not see the Body.

When they saw nothing, they already left.

Tinge of Hope

Mary Magdalene was left.

Mary stayed. She was not just present, she stayed on.

I know some who were present— just showed up, so their names would be checked on the attendance list, then went home already.

But Mary stayed. Why? Maybe out of confusion, or despair. Remember this was the same Mary Magdalene who saw Jesus being nailed to the Cross, and hanging, and dying on the Cross. Presumably, we know she was there until the burial. She saw Jesus die, buried—and the tomb was even covered with a big rock. Then she would see there was no one in the tomb? There must be so much confusion.

But couldn’t it be that she stayed behind because there was a tinge of hope. That she must be thinking, “Even as I couldn’t fathom what happened, Mayroon Pa Ring Magandang Mangyayari—something beautiful would happen.”

This Pandemic stole many things from us— and left so much damage.

But it also gave us many gifts. One gift was all of us were made present to the persons important to us. We were made present in our home. Like for those loving their family members, this lockdown was heaven. Actually, they are sad it’s over. But those who don’t like each other were like, “When will this ever end?”

Even in our faith community, our spiritual family, the Light of Jesus, when we had to put on hold our live gathering, we were very sad. But we discovered something different: Presence. Even virtual (as we had instead our online Feast-at- Home), suddenly, we saw each other on screen…

In truth, we are excited to see you all again. But we had a little concern: Because when we were separated, there emerged smaller groups, the Light Groups, Feast Lights. Bro. Bo even coined a phrase for it: ATM Discipleship. Not the kind you withdraw disciples from your Automatic Teller Machine.

What we have been having is At the Moment Discipleship. The one-on-one online chats: “Kumusta ka? How are you?”

It’s like a beautiful happening. We became present for each other.

Nevertheless, we had a little apprehension that if we have a big, live gathering again, we’d say, “It’s fun, but I might not know anyone on the third row, and those in the balcony I could hardly see…”

By the way, in the next Sunday gatherings, we will no longer require you to register online, ahead of the day of our meeting. Why? Because there were those who registered but did not show up. They are not present here.

So, here’s the second secret why Mary Magdalene saw Jesus. You want to see Jesus?

No. 2:

  

Let’s go back to our Reading:

15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

How did Jesus first address Mary Magdalene? He said, Woman.

Bishop Ted earlier told us that that was a most respectful way of addressing a lady. But it’s a generic term. I can call anyone here Woman.

So, Mary Magdalene, thinking that He was the gardener, she answered,

“Sir…” – very respectful. But generic. I can call you Sir, with all respect.

So, Mary Magdalene did not recognize Jesus.

14 Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

Then, suddenly, Jesus said to her: 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

MaryFirst name.

Then…She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!”

Her response, Rabboni, is an endearing word: Teacher.

 I am a teacher, so I know there’s a difference between Sir and Teacher.

The latter indicates there is already a relationship (student-teacher).

So, that was the time she recognized Jesus.

So, I told you when I give talks online, before I start my talk, I greet my audience one by one—when there were just 30 persons. But not anymore when there were already 200 persons…

Remember Jesus called her by her name? Turn to the persons beside you and ask their names. And calling a person by name may already start something. Like you may start to have a Light Group or a Feast Light.

Here’s the third secret how to see Jesus.

No. 3:

 

Jesus could have appeared first to Peter—he’s the leader among the apostles.

Or, Jesus could have appeared first to His Mother.

By the way, our Easter morning ritual where we reenact the meeting of Jesus and Mary, has a basis—from the teachings of St. Ignatius, St. Vincent, up to St. Pope John Paul II.

Anyway, the Bible says Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene. Let’s read in Mark 16:9:

Now after he had risen early on the first day, of the week, he first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.

And Bishop Ted said the number 7 means perfect. So, she was perfectly demonic. So, why did the Lord appear first to Mary Magdalene? And the verse added 7 demons…

As Bishop Ted said, 7 means demonic. So, Mary was perfectly demonic. So, why did He appear first to Mary? The answer, as we said, to give you,

you, me, hope. That even how dark my past had been, even as all sorts of demons entered my life, the Lord Jesus is able to appear to me.

I guess, if Jesus showed Himself to a holy person—well, Mama Mary was the exception—our preaching today would be like this:

“You have to be holy and perfect so Jesus will go near you.” The standard is so high, many would back out.

But when Jesus appeared to a woman who had a very dark past, we are able to breathe with relief and each one of us can say, “I still have hope to see Jesus in my life.”

So, no matter how dark your past had been— or even your present— if you are in the darkness of fear, of confusion, of sin, of helplessness and hopelessness, you have hope.

Look up to Jesus. He will take your hands, He will pull you up—even you are muddy, even if you are deep in mud, look at Jesus, so He can pull you up.

I have a bonus for you, how you will find the true meaning of seeing Jesus.

When you see Jesus…

No. 4: Be Prepared to Show Jesus to Others.

 If you were overjoyed when you saw Jesus, you just can’t keep Him to yourself. You’ve got tell the world of your encounter with Him.

Bishop Ted is correct. Jesus appeared first appeared to Mary Magdalene. You know she was the patron of women, right? She’s the patron of gossips—if you tell something to a woman, she will reveal it right away, she will talk about it.

But as Bishop Ted said, in the case of Mary Magdalene, it was just right to spread it because it’s not fake— this is the greatest news the world has ever heard, and that the world continues to need to hear.

So, I repeat: You want to see Jesus? You will see Him, and be prepared to talk about Him throughout the world —like what Mary Magdalene did:

Reflection

DIDOY LUBATON: It’s a family event… Say, “Welcome home to the family!”

For the past three days, those who joined the Holy Week Retreat took part in several guided reflections. We prayed, we meditated intimately in the Presence of God. Today, we will be doing that again to complete the process. Use these few minutes to quiet your mind. Let’s begin…

Close your eyes. Quiet down your mind.

Be in the Presence of God. Take a slow, deep breath. Let it fill you. And again, another breath, slowly, and deeply. A breath which makes you lighter, and lighter, and lighter. Continue deep breathing when you feel weightless, exhale the air slowly, silently, letting the air propel you back in time, far away in the distance, to the time of Jesus Christ.

It is Easter Sunday morning. And you are there at the tomb. Before daybreak. And you are allowed to experience the Resurrection. You are lying down on the same tomb, but the Father and the Spirit come to raise you from the dead.

They are experiencing great loss. Jesus is dead. And they miss Him. The angel rolls away the stone, and they enter the tomb.

The Father proclaims, “Death, you are defeated. Death, you are broken.”

The Spirit breathes life into your body. The Trinity unwraps the grave clothes from your body. You open your eyes, you sit up, you feel new life in your veins. Death leaves your body. You are filled with joy. The Trinity embraces you with joy. Together again. Separated no more. All the pain and suffering and injury are healed in you. Leaving only scars. And you are filled with love. Love for your people. Love everywhere. You have conquered death. You have won the victory.

Now, you see Jesus in all His Resurrected Glory approach you.

He says, “You have accompanied Me in my passion and death. You died with me. Now, receive new life with me.”

You run to Him and you embrace.

He says, “It is so good to see you again. It is so good to be alive and to be with you again.”

Suddenly, you are filled and overwhelmed with joy. His joy fills and overflows you. Everything is good. You stand there for a long time. Just being together with Jesus. Your heart is filled with peace, reunited with Jesus. Take some time now to talk with Jesus. Say what’s in your heart and mind. …

Now, open your eyes. Breathe. Inhale. Exhale.

Love Offerin

Dr. RYAN CAPITULO: Happy Easter, my dear Feast Family!

It’s truly great to be here—to see each other face-to-face.

Let me tell you why and how we should worship God. We worship Jesus because He gave His best for us. When He suffered and died on the Cross, He gave everything—His life for us. And by giving His best, Jesus ensured that we will receive the best blessings, the best graces, the best healing.

And that is the reason we should give out the best when we worship the Lord. When we worship Jesus in the Mass, we give the best attention, participation, meditation, and prayer. When we praise God in our communal Worship, we give our best singing, even we’re out of tune. We give our best dancing. Even if our body is stiff, our moves have no rhythm.

When we worship God, we give our best effort—to be a follower of Jesus and be His disciple.

My dear brothers and sisters, I know, and you know that our tithes, our love offering, they are also forms of Worship to the Lord.

In Philippians 4:18, St. Paul said that our offerings, they are a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice pleasing to God. And so, I challenge all of you to give your best love offering to God. And I assure you: the offering that you hold in your hand is a fragrant aroma, that will rise to Heaven. I challenge you, give your best to God. And I assure you that offering you are holding is an acceptable sacrifice pleasing to God.

Lift your offering with me and say this with me: With my word, my thoughts, with my actions, with my life, and with my love offering this is my best for now. Bless me more, so I can give more. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 

Grand Easter Feast Message

Embrace the Pain

BO SANCHEZ: Father, we thank you that today is the day that you brought us through the deadend of our life. Deadends are doorways to Your Presence.

So, here we are. We thank you that you have shown the way.

In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

I’d like to give you one last message and it’s a message that I want you to, first of all, say it with me: Embrace the Pain.

This short talk will have two parts.

The first part, two stories. And then after that, I’ll unpack the Word.

You might be thinking, “Bro. Bo, parang hindi naman bagay yung message mo—It seems your message, Embrace the Pain, does not fit the occasion: Easter!”

But I’m telling you, it totally fits. First story:

A young woman comes to me, bawling her eyes out, a waterfall of tears cascading down her cheeks.

Her first statement to me was, “Bro. Bo, I’m angry at God!”

And then she just shared and shared and cried and cried in front of me.

She was talking about two business failures.

Then, she said this: “Bro. Bo, bakit ganyan si Lord—Why is God like that? He gave me a dream. And then He gives me obstacles– so that the dream does not come true.”

You know, when people do that in front of me— start sharing their story, and cry and cry— I just I let them speak. And usually, what happens—I don’t know if this is an experience that you have—at the end, they feel better. Yes or no? They actually feel better.

And there are those hilarious moments when the person tells me, after crying and sharing the story, “Bro. Bo, thank you so much. I feel so good. Thank you for your wisdom.”

Wala naman akong sinabi. I actually didn’t say anything.

But in this one moment, after this person shared her story, I said— and I really felt that she was ready to listen—“May I share my story?”

She nodded, and I told her my story.

Only Two Choices

When I was 12 years old, I gave my life to God. And then what happened was at 13, I began to serve Him. I really gave all out. You know— tried celibacy, lived in a bodega – warehouse—with other missionaries, and we slept on the floor.

All out, 100 percent, dedicated to God.

And after 13 years, I was 30 years old, I decided I was going to get married.

And I decided I needed a business to support my family. And that’s what I did— set up a business.

I told her, “Just like you, I failed. Second business, it failed.”

Then I looked at her, and I said, “Last count, I failed in 18 businesses. If there is one person that can demand, ‘Lord, bless my business,’ that’s me. “Lord, I gave my whole life to you—100 percent. Please, bless me!”

But no. 18 businesses. I tried everything: concerts with foreign artists, products from China, imported to sell. I tried investing in clinics, restaurants —they all failed. And every failure was painful.

But today, I have two profitable businesses, 200 employees. God is good.

She said, “Bro. Bo, you’re telling me never to give up—until I succeed.”

I told her, “No. I’m telling you to redefine success.”

I told her this, and I’m telling you now: “I want you to get rid of this fantasy in your mind—that just because you’re praying, just because you’re following the Lord, you will be exempted from problems and from pain.”

Get rid of that hallucination. The earlier you can get rid of that, the better for you. I told her there is no such thing as a painless life.

You have only Two Choices in this World:

No. 1. A life of pain with God.

No. 2. A life of pain without God.

There are only two choices. You know what success is? Success is embracing your pain—with God beside you. That is success.

And I told her, “Today I have two profitable businesses. Do you think I don’ have problems? Any entrepreneur will tell you the bigger the business, the more the problems.”

Am I talking to somebody here? That I would eat problems— breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

No, there is no such thing as a life without pain, and a life without problems. But that’s my point: Success is embracing your pain, right now—

with God right there beside you. That is success.

The Day My Life Changed

My second story:

I remember, my first child, when he was still a small baby— like all other babies. That baby is already playing the keyboard here somewhere.

He’s an adult now.

When he was a baby, I was trying to put up my business. I didn’t know how to sell. And any entrepreneur should know how to sell.

I signed up to a networking company—to get free training on selling.

And I told myself, I can do this. I am speaker—and selling is talking.

Oh, my gosh. How wrong I was! Selling was brutal. Nine out of 10 tries, I would get rejected. One bought because he just pitied me. It was so painful because, you know, when you’re a new sales person, every rejection is not a rejection of your product. They’re rejecting you. And you take it personally.

I remember one night, I had to do a sales presentation – three hours away, even through traffic jams. No one bought. Not a single sale. And I went home so dejected. It was midnight. I was so tired. No one bought. And in my mind, I had only one thought: “I’ll give up this craziness.”

But a few minutes later, I was lying on bed, I looked at my baby, at my wife, and I knew I had no choice.

And then a thought: an idea entered my mind. I said, “What if I just accept that this is normal? This pain, this rejection, it’s just a part of life. Accept it.”

I was staring at the ceiling and at the corner of my eye I was looking at my little baby, his chest heaving up and down.

And I said,”Tanggapin ko na lang. I’ll just accept it. Masakit talaga ang buhay. Life is really painful. There is rejection.”

That day was the day that changed my life. Because after that, I’m telling you, when you become comfortable with pain, you become unstoppable.

In the next 12 months, I sold a million-peso worth of products. After that, I put up my own business, went through so much more pain– until today, I’m earning 100 times more.

Both Sides Now

This is not about sales. This message is not about business. This is about life.

This is about all of life. You want to have a great marriage? Be ready for massive pain. You want to raise up great kids,? Be ready for massive amounts of pain.

Is anybody listening to me here? You want to grow spiritually? And follow Jesus? Oh, man, you got to get ready for massive amounts of pain. Be comfortable with pain. And you will achieve what God wants you to achieve.

You know, there is this beautiful song by Joni Mitchell. She was 17, 18 years old, she got pregnant out of wedlock, and she realized she could not afford to raise her child. And she gave it up for adoption. That was so painful. And, one time, as a young woman, she was riding a plane, looked through the window, and she saw clouds. And how beautiful the clouds were. And she wrote the first stanza of the song

Both Sides Now…

Rows and flows of angel’s hair, and ice cream castles in the air, and feathered canyons everywhere, I looked at clouds that way…

But there are days when clouds are not pretty— they’re ugly.

But now they only block the sun, they rain and snow on everyone… So many things I would have done, but clouds got in the way…

And isn’t life just like clouds? Sometimes, it’s pretty, and sometimes it’s ugly…

But what you need to do is to look at both and embrace both —the pain and the prize…

I look at clouds from both sides now, from win and lose, but still somehow, it’s life’s illusions I recall. I really don’t know life, at all…

New Humans

In John 20—we’ve been reading it from the Mass, and then Alvin talked about it…

21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” —John 20:21-22 ESV

In verse 22, Jesus, He did this to His apostles: He breathed on them, the Holy Spirit, that’s what it says, John 20. We do not see the verse in plain English because in Hebrew, there’s only one word for breath, and air, and wind, and spirit. It’s ruach.

Where does it come from? And I want you to understand that Jesus, He knew He was referencing Genesis 2:7 ESV:

7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. Genesis 2:7 ESV

That’s how He created the world. That’s how He created us. He got soil and He breathed upon it. And Adam and Eve came forth.

Friends, on Resurrection Day, when Jesus breathed upon His disciples, what was He doing? He was recreating new humans. He was recreating new humans.

What kind of humans?

In Matthew 28, the last appearance of the Risen Jesus, before He ascended to Heaven, verse 16 says:

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.— Matthew 28:16 ESV

Going to the mountain, the 11 disciples left for Galilee. The mountain was in Galilee. So, from Jerusalem, to Galilee. Mountain, Galilee. Does that ring a bell?

My dear Feasters, for two years, we unpacked Matthew. Two years during the Pandemic— verse, by verse, by verse. And if there’s something that I want you to remember, there was a mountain in Galilee. In Chapter 5, where Jesus inaugurated His Kingdom, the greatest sermon was preached on a mountain— in Galilee.

And so, Matthew had that to tell you —that this is what’s going to happen:

The first thing Jesus talked about His Kingdom on a mountain in Galilee was the Beatitudes: Happy are the poor in spirit…Happy are those who mourn…

People To Love

We were saying that The Beatitudes — and a lot of people think this way, in fact, books written about

The Beatitudes refer to it—

The Beatitudes as attitudes. And it’s nice because the words rhyme.

But that’s not the primary meaning of The Beatitudes. They are not just attitudes to have— but people to love.

The Beatitudes —we kept on saying it over and over again for the past two years while we studied Matthew— they are the VIP list of the Kingdom.

And when you think about… Okay, Bro. Bo, I still don’t get it.

I’ll give you an example. In verse 6, Chapter 5, the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said one of the Beatitudes— one of the 8— this: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

My dear friends, ever since I was a kid, I would understand this verse as yung mga tao na gustong magpakabait— people who want to be good: Blessed are the people who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

That was wrong.

Do you know what this verse means? Blessed are those who are going through injustice, and who are suffering— and they are hungry and thirsty that God would right the wrong that is happening. They are hungry and thirsty for the God of Justice— to give them Justice. Because they are suffering from injustice.

The entire Beatitudes are people who are suffering, who are poor, who are grieving, and mourning. The people in the periphery of society.

Jesus is saying, “This is the kind of Kingdom that I want. They are my VIPS. And if you want to follow Me, and if you want to be part of my Kingdom…

Do you want to be part of the Kingdom? Do you want to report to King Jesus?

“…You’ve got to make them your VIP as well. The suffering, the poor, those going through injustice, the oppressed, the people giving going through brokenness and pain.”

I began my talk by saying Embrace the Pain.

But if you want to follow Jesus, you don’t only embrace your pain.

You embrace the pain of the people around you. But actually, your pain— you don’t want to embrace. So, how can you ever embrace the pain of others?

God’s VIP

A lot of people, they are looking for a fairy tale. They are looking for a painless life. But what God is telling you today, embrace your pain, and then you go out, ask people around you, what is the pain that they are going through?

“Arvin, kumusta? How are you?

And what is your pain?

“My family, may pneumonia ang anak ko— my child has pneumonia.”

“You have four children. Nag-i-stock market ka, di ba?”

“Opo.”

“Ilang taon ka na sa Feast?” “15 years na po.”

If I want to follow the Kingdom of Jesus, if I want to report to King Jesus, people like Arvin and his pain, they become my pain. Not just my pain. I must embrace his pain.

Already 15 years working with us. And every single day, I need to make this decision: I’m not going to live for myself. I’m going to make him a VIP of my heart.

Thank you, Arvin. Let us pray:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Oh, Lord, we got it all wrong. Here we are, trying to look for that painless life. How wrong we are! When what you want is that we embrace our pain and the of the pain of those around us… Make their suffering my suffering. Make their brokenness my brokenness. Lord, ang layo ko sa gusto Mo— I’m so far from what You want. I want my life to be comfortable. I want my life to be convenient. If there’s something wrong, something doesn’t go my way, reklamo ako— I complain.

Oh, God, I am so far away… I need Breath that comes from You. I need that Spirit. Make me a new human being— please! Change my life. I want to report to King Jesus.

My dear friends, if you’re ready to report to King Jesus, to embrace your pain, and the pain of the people around you, may I invite you to plant one knee or two knees on the ground and report to King Jesus. And say this after me:

Jesus, help me. Breathe into me Your Spirit. Recreate a new human being in me. In Jesus Name. Amen.

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