YES, by God’s Merciful Grace, our Light of Jesus Feast Mercy Ministry started Year 2022 afresh with Jesus.
Light of Jesus personnel, Feast Mercy Ministry servants, supporters, and volunteers gathered via Zoom for a Recollection on January 18, 2022.
We started amid the murky floods and devastation left by Typhoon Odette, catastrophic tropical cyclone, the strongest storm of 2021 hitting the Philippines in mid-December. Odette came on the heels of the discovery of Omicron in November, another variant of the Coronavirus – highly transmissible, bringing anew the horrors of surging COVID cases.
Undaunted, during our Mercy Ministry Recollection, we recalled blessings in the year that was, Year 2021, and lifted Year 2022 to the Loving arms of the Lord.
We are still in the middle of the storm right now, and yet, we know that Jesus is with us in the midst of the storm. Alam niya ang ating pinagdadaanan.
The call is for us to fix our eyes on Jesus, so that we don’t sink in the waters of despair, fear, disappointment, and anxiety. Take our steps going to Jesus one at a time, and yes, let’s not look at the strong current and big waves surrounding us.
Instead, focus on who Jesus is. He is Lord of all. Jesus is all along with us in this journey and He will surely bring us to the other side of the shore– the harbor of peace, the harbor of Joy, the harbor of hope.
And so, as we have done year after year, we start The Feast Mercy Ministry by looking up to the Lord of Mercy and lifting for His blessing our Year 2022 and the people He called us to serve.
My prayer for all of you is to see Jesus in the midst of the storms.
HERMIE MORELOS, chairman,
Light of Jesus Feast Mercy Ministry
Executive Director, Shepherd’s Voice Radio and Television Foundation, producer of Mercy Ministry Retreat
It’s really a joy to welcome you today. It’s good for us to pause for a while at the start of the year to receive and try to listen to what God is saying.
Even Jesus went out of the way. At certain times in His public ministry, He would go to an out-of-the-way place so that He could commune with God and listen and try to hear what God is telling Him. And this is evidence of a relationship that is deep enough for us— to be able to stop and listen.
Matthew 11:15 reads: Whoever has ears, let them hear.
And I am inviting all of you to lean unto God’s Word, lean unto this special moment that we have. We have a very, very good and capable, wisdom-filled speaker today. What we need to do is to listen in for a few hours, let us forget about the work because many times we focus too much on the work for the Lord, we forget the Lord of the Work.
Now is a good time to remember who Jesus is to us, what He is doing into our life. Let’s listen to Him and I’m sure that whatever the speaker will share with us today will have a practical application in your life. I’m asking you not just to hear. Having ears is one thing. Having ears to hear is another thing.
So, on behalf of Bro. Hermie Morelos, and the leadership of the organizations of The Feast Mercy Ministry, I welcome all of you and I exhort you to try to listen to what Jesus is telling you right now.
Our speaker will address 140 participants but God will speak to you and to you alone— personally, God will speak to your heart what He needs you to do, what He wants you to do, and where He wants you to go.
So, again, welcome, everyone. Good morning, and let him who has ears hear.
Thank you, God bless all of us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Head, Feast International Region
Good morning, Brothers and Sisters! We welcome you in this year’s Mercy Ministry Recollection.
I’d like to thank all of you for freeing your schedule to be able to attend this spiritual activity. You know, we all need to take a break from our routine for this kind of recollection.
After all, the word recollect comes from, of course, recollection, which is derived from the Latin recollectus, the past participle of recolligere (to collect again)— re (again)+ colligere (to gather).
And that is exactly what we are doing whenever we go through recollections such as this. We gather our thoughts, our memories. We reconnect our mission and vision on the Ministry. We rediscover our purpose, especially during these times of the Pandemic, when things seem to be uncertain and we see people around us getting sick and dying.
You know, there are two words that have become widely used during this time of the Pandemic. These are the words asymptomatic and symptomatic when someone catches the virus.
For the asymptomatic, as we all know, the symptoms of the disease do not manifest– coughs, colds, fever, sore throat, loss of smell and taste. Of course, we do not want to be afflicted with the disease– even if the signs or symptoms are not manifest. We avoid people who are afflicted. They are supposed to be quarantined and avoid exposing themselves to contaminate others.
But in our Christian life, we need to be afflicted by the virus of love, of kindness, of joy, gentleness, generosity, and all the other fruits of the Holy Spirit. And we must be symptomatic so that we can express, and demonstrate, and be able to infect others with these virtues.
I believe that you are already demonstrating these symptoms as you serve in the different ministries.
My prayer is that many will be infected by your godly virus.
God bless you all. Have fun, have a Spirit-filled recollection– but stay away from COVID.
BO SANCHEZ, founder, Light of Jesus Family Konting tiis na lang darating na ang liwanag. That’s not a promise. That is a prayer. I got that from Fr. Nick Austriaco of the Order of Friars Preachers (OFP), one time, when I interviewed him.
Hello, everybody– Lighthouse Family, all the Mercy Ministries gathered together. You are God’s servants and I am happy that I can greet you today.
I’m talking about what’s happening and what we are hoping to happen. You see, two years ago, when the Pandemic hit, a lot of people were praying, “Lord God, end this crisis, end this crisis.”
But we were preaching at that time a different message. We were telling everybody, instead of praying, “Lord, end this crisis,” pray, “Lord, prosper me in this crisis.”
And then we quoted from the book of Jeremiah. During his time, the people of Israel were in exile and there were some false prophets who were saying, “Sandali lang ‘yan, sandali lang ‘yan. You’ll gonna go back to Israel!”
It was Jeremiah who said, “No, it’s going be a long time. Plant gardens, build homes, prosper in the city where you are in. Don’t wait and be paralyzed— you know, don’t wait for you to get back to Israel and then do your work there. No. Do your work now, in the midst of the crisis.”
We preached that message early on in the Pandemic. We were saying,
“Guys, hindi ito sandali. Hindi ito two weeks, or two months lang. Matagal ito.
Prosper in the crisis. Meaning to say, adjust, be flexible, do something.”
Today, 2022, we’re changing our message. I really want to pray that this is really the tail end of this crisis. Again, I’m not an expert. I’m not a man of science. I’m a man of faith. I just want to pray that this will be the end. Konting tiis na lang, darating na ang liwanag. I want to pray for that. I’m not, again, prophesying. I’m just saying, I’m praying for it.
The painting (right) by Noli Vicedo, chief artist of our inspirational magazine, Kerygma, now we call The Feast, is very special to me because it’s about Harvest. Alam mo, ang harvest hindi araw-araw– you know– you wait for it, you plant, you work, but one day it will come.
And I’m believing that with all that we’d done in the past two years, and now, going into 2022, it will be a big harvest for you and for our organizations. That’s my prayer. God bless you. I’m praying for you. I will see you in the Vineyard of the Lord.
Fr. Angelo Paolo O. Asprer, SSP, is a memberof the Society of St. Paul Philippines, Macao province. He was ordained as priest in 2014 by Archbishop Socrates Villegas.
Fr. Paolo earned his Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Theological Studies at the Loyola School of Theology at the Ateneo de Manila University.
He currently serves in the Provincial Council at the Creative Publishing sector of his congregation. He teaches at St. Paul’s Seminary Foundation. In his introduction to his talk in the Light of Jesus Feast Mercy Ministry Recollection on January 18, 2022, he expressed appreciation for our Community and the people behind in it:
“Naramdaman ko talaga ang ating Panginoong Hesus sa inyo… Instead of me bringing Jesus to you, actually kayo po ang nagdadala kay Hesus sa akin at nakita ko ang iba’t-ibang mukha ni Hesus sa Feast Family– ‘yung masayang Hesus, ‘yung happy and at the same time hurting Jesus, at ‘yung busog na busog na Hesus, ‘yung gutom o ‘yung uhaw na uhaw sa pagmamahal ni Hesus. The blessed and the broken Jesus, the loving and the beloved Jesus.
Kaya naman ang aking encounter sa Feast Family, it’s truly an epiphany, it’s a divine and at the same time a deeply human encounter.
At ako’y nagpapasalamat for this invitation na magbahagi. This is a very humbling encounter. Truth be told, ang aking ibabahagi ay hindi na ho bago. Nothing new and nothing original. Ito ay narinig ninyo na sa mga magagaling nating Feast Builders at preachers. Ito po ay nanggaling sa kanila. At kung meron mang original, ito po ay galing sa Espiritu Santo.
Panalangin ko na bigyan kayo ng Diyos ng new eyes, kasi ang ibabahagi ko sa inyo ay hindi na bago. Pero panalangin ko na bigyan kayo ng bagong mata, new heart, new ears, panibagong pananaw, pag-unawa sa sitwasyon, at mga insights sa ating encounter ngayon.
By FR. ANGELO PAOLO O. ASPRER, SSP
IT’S a fundamental decision that we begin always with Jesus. Mahirap magsimula kapag wala si Hesus. Mahirap magpatuloy kung wala si Hesus, mahirap na wakasan ang mga dapat wakasan sa ating buhay kung wala si Hesus, at mahirap magsimulang muli.
You know the grace of new beginnings: Kung wala si Hesus, yung ating buhay, it is an endless cycle of beginnings, ends, and new beginnings. Ganun talaga ang buhay. Sabi nga sa Ecclesiastes 3:1:
“There is an appointed time for everything. There is a time to live, there’s a time to die. There is a time to reap and there is a time to harvest.
We look forward to that image of aanihin natin ang ating itinanim na kabutihan. Sa panahon ng Pandemya, instead of asking the Lord, “Hanggang kalian, Lord, itong Pandemic crisis? We pray, “Help me to prosper, Lord, sa panahon ng krisis.”
Makikilala natin ang ating sarili. There is a time to tear down and a time to build up, a time to cry and a time to laugh– there is an appointed time for everything.
Ano nga ba yung season sa ating buhay?
For everything there is a season, for every season there is a reason, and for every reason there is a lesson.
Christmas season brings us to the crib of life to start over again. Every stage of life comes and goes until Christmas comes again and we are called na magsimulang muli. ‘Yan naman talaga ang biyaya ng Pasko. Babalik at babalik tayo sa ating pinagmulan. Ito nga daw yung misteryo ng Pasko– ‘yung napakalaking Diyos na naging isang sanggol.
Christmas shatters our expectations. For a long time, ang hinihintay ng sangkatauhan ay isang makapangyarihan, a superman with a super power, a super star, pero noong isinilang ang Diyos, isang sanggol ang ibinigay sa atin, a helpless, vulnerable baby. Nagmamakaawa pa, “Maaari mo ba akong yakapin?” ‘Yan po ang Diyos– nagpapayakap sa atin.
C.S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business in Heaven.”
Anong klaseng kasiyahan itong sinasabi natin? Ang isa po sa ninanais natin ay magkaroon ng joyful heart… a childlike laughter of children. When we see children laugh, it’s the image of Heaven. Ang sinasabi nating kaligayahan, it is larger than us. We always have this tendency– that we want to pursue joy. We will chase people for us to be happy. Joy, we don’t pursue it. It finds us. We can only experience joy. We can’t grasp or hold on to it– because joy is a greater reality. It’s beyond us.
We are all God’s project in progress. Kailangan nating tanggapin na lahat ng taong banal, struggle. We all have our inner demons. We have to face our demons– the demon of unforgiveness, the demon of lust, the demon of pride, and so on… The greater the denial, the deeper the harm. We are all a mixture of light and darkness, sins and sinners, wheat and weed, sincerity and hypocrisy. That’s why Pope Francis said, “I am a sinner like you.”
We are all complex and we have to respect that complexity. We are called to embrace that complexity. It’s all in the Lord– by His grace and mercy that can make us whole and simple.
Kailangan po natin pangatawanan ang ating mga kasalanan. Hindi po tayo naninisi. Katulad na lamang ni Adan at ni Eba– sinisi nila ‘yung ahas, o ‘yung mansanas…
Maaari po, marami tayong sisihin. Sisihin natin ang Pandemya, sisihin natin ang ating mga lider sa ating bansa, o sa ating komunidad. But again, personal accountability, personal responsibility. Sometimes we find an escape, but of course, we all have a responsibility to each other. What we’re trying to say here, when we commit sin, have a personal accountability. Na hindi na tayo nagtatago ng mga kasalanan sa Diyos. When we face God, we are all naked. Wala tayong maitatago sa Diyos.
Ano pa ‘yung gusto mong gawin sa buhay? Gustong-gusto ko ‘yung sinabi ng isang theologian, si Karl Rahner. He said, “In the torment of the insufficiency of everything attainable, we come to understand that here, in this life, all symphonies remain unfinished.”
Ang role natin dito sa mundong ibabaw is to begin, to continue– sapagkat ang task ng completion, perfection, ay sa Diyos. We are all servants here, stewards, sharers na pinagkatiwalaan ng Diyos.
Ang pananampalataya, binibigyan tayo ng pananaw. Faith actually does not give us solutions. Well, if we are given solutions, thank God. But the role of faith is to give us not solutions, but perspective. That there’s always a way out from our struggles when we are with God.
Love is the eye. ‘Yung mga tunay na nagmamahal, sila ‘yung nakakakita. Pero tama nga ba? Love is blind… ‘yung mga taong nagmamahal ay nagbubulag-bulagan? O sila ‘yung tunay na nakakakita. Sabi nga sa librong The Little Prince, “What is essential is invisible to the human eyes.” What is important is felt by the human heart.
Yung mata na umiibig sa Diyos at sa kapwa, malinaw ang paningin.
How we see is what we see. Do we see people with judgement?
True religion isn’t following rules and regulations. True religion is all about relationship– with God, with people, with our deepest core.
How do we see God’s providence in this Pandemic? Parusa ba sa atin ito ng Panginoon? Why do bad things happen to good people?
I, also, as a priest, have so many questions about faith, about everything that is happening. Siguro tingnan mo na lang ‘yung Krus and have an honest and deep conversation with God. Umiyak ka, magalit ka sa Diyos, perhaps that conversation will give you hope…
Ang kasagutan lang ng Diyos sa atin ay… ang Diyos din ay umiiyak. Maaaring kayo ay nawalan ng trabaho, ng lakas, ng pag-asa ngayong COVID-19 Pandemic– pero ang Diyos, marami ring nawala sa kanya. Marami siyang anak na namatay, marami din siyang planong natigil because of this Pandemic. So, hindi ito galing sa Diyos– it is who we are, ‘yung ating pag-aabuso sa ating kalayaan, sa ating kalikasan. With the fragility of life, mas napagtanto natin na marupok ang buhay. Mas napagtanto nating ang mga tunay at higit na mahalaga sa ating buhay.
God wants to save us. Pero ang tanong, gusto ba natin? Handa ba tayo makipag-cooperate sa Kanyang plano? Sa Kanyang kabutihan at pag-asa? Hope doesn’t depend on the Pandemic or the news in social media.
The very basis of hope is God himself. Ang bawat iyak, luha, pagdadalamhati at kalungkutan, each one brings us closer to God. Merong mabuting balita pagkatapos nating umiyak. We entrust our tears, our sorrows before the Lord.
‘Diba pagkatapos nating umiyak, may bagong pananaw?
We are called to be grateful. Grateful people are happy people… Grateful people are holy people. Ang mga taong may pasasalamat ay mga taong tunay na nakakakita.
CLOSING: THE CHALLENGE OF 2022
BRO. RANDY BORROMEO
Brothers and Sisters, we learned a lot in this Recollection. We were reminded about what we need to do, and Fr. Paolo Asprer shared with us very practical tips on how to start living the way God wants us to live.
I guess as part of the organizations under the Light of Jesus Family, we should be the best witnesses to the Mercy of God, the Generosity of God.
And I go back to my opening message where I quoted from Matthew 11:15: Let him who has ears, hear.
Brothers and Sisters, as I said, when you hear you can receive the message audibly. But when you listen, you try to find out, you try to chew on whatever Fr. Paolo shared with us. You chew it and you take what you can get from it, you take whatever nutrition you can get. It’s like chewing your food and then making sure that the nutrients will be absorbed by your body.
So, that’s our challenge for everyone today.
Number1: At the start of the year, to re-commit your life to Jesus. If you’ve given your life to Jesus, it’s time to re-commit. It’s time to say, “Lord, I’m here again. Lord, as a worker, as a volunteer for You, I’m here at Your Vineyard and I am ready to serve.”
If you haven’t done that, I am going to lead you also into prayer. Again, many times, we’re very busy with the work for the Lord, we forget the Lord of the Work. And so, it’s time to recollect —very inspiring words from Bro. Vic. To recollect, and think, and see, and evaluate where we’re at in our relationship with the Lord.
So, I’m going to lead you in prayer and after this, we’re going into Worship. Let us remember we are in the Presence of the Lord. Put your hand on your chest and join me in this prayer…
Father, we praise and we Thank You because we know this is your appointed time for us. This is the time that You have allowed us to spend here because You want us to convey Your message.
Father, we love as You first loved us. But today, Lord, we just want to be loved. We want to receive Your Grace, Your Mercy, Your Favor in everything that we do— not just in Ministry work, but in our personal life, in our professional life, in our business life.
Father, Thank You for sending your Son Jesus Christ to us as we just celebrated Christmas. Thank You for the words of Jesus Christ that touched
and changed us today.
Thank You for Fr. Paolo and all the messages he conveyed. Thank You for using him as your mouthpiece.
Thank You, Lord God, because You have called us by name. We could have been working somewhere else. But we’re here in this organization, helping people, helping the marginalized, the poor, those who cannot defend themselves,
those who do not have resources to even survive.
Father, Thank You for this privilege. Thank You for calling us into Your Vineyard.
Jesus, we invite You again into our life, into our heart– that as we serve You as we do to the least of our brethren, Lord, make us understand and make us see how we’re also doing this to You— social justice, serving the poor, serving
the underprivileged, running after the least, the last, and the lost.
Thank You, Lord. We all re-commit today to serve You in the best way possible. We know, Lord, it’s not going to be a walk in the park. It’s going to be hard. But it’s going to be good, because You promised that You will never forsake us. You will never leave us.
And we lift to You, Lord God, all our concerns. Some of us here are not feeling well. Some of us are infected by the virus. Lord, Father, we pray that You just touch us and make us whole. Make us whole and make us believe, Lord God, that You are Lord over the Coronavirus. You are Lord over coughing, over colds, over pneumonia, over cancer. You are Lord over every disease.
You are Lord over all.
As we recommit to You, our God, just declare today that 2022 will be our best year ever– maybe not because things have changed, but because our faith and our belief have changed.
Lord, we declare the best is yet to come. We declare that tomorrow will be better than today. Lord God, we may not have started the year the way we wanted to but we declare, Lord God, that we will end the Year 2022 the way You want us to. All these we pray and ask in Jesus’ Mighty Name. Amen.
Let’s worship the Lord…