Friends, this is the Word of God.

It’s alive and it’s active. And if you allow the Lord to speak, He is going to speak to you over whatever situation that you have. And I know you’ve got a situation that needs wisdom, that needs guidance.

And so, we pray: Lord, that You will speak today through this message.

 Let’s all sing together: Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet and a Light unto my path. 

Let me just lay down the foundation of our Talk. We are in Talk 4 of our series called Table Talks. We are talking about the beauty of our Spiritual Community, The Feast, to which you belong. Whether you like it or not, you’re part of this spiritual family. We’ve been telling you about the uniqueness of our Community.

Today, the title of our Talk is Damascus Road.

There is this 500-year-old chismis– gossip– about a debate that is still talked about to this day. You’ve probably heard this at least once in your life.

And it’s about a very strange topic– about this question: How is a person saved?

You might say, “Bro. Audee, so deep question, so early in the morning.” Well, this is not your regular Sunday lunch topic, you know, with your fellow gossips.

This Topic Is Very Deep

The reason I need to bring this out is I think the problem with a lot of us Christians– I included– is that we’re so at home in this world. Do you agree with me? We’re so at home in this world that we forget that this is not our permanent home.

Our permanent home is with God and so, we need to talk about topics like this: How do you save your soul?

There are many, a few schools of thought, that would answer this question.

But I’ll give you the two most common ones.

People say that you can be saved by faith. That’s one thought.

Other people would say that you can be saved by good works. By good deeds.

But because we’re Catholics, I’ll share with you our Catholic belief– our stand on this issue: How we are saved.

St. Paul teaches us this: That we are saved by grace.

From Ephesians 2:8-9:

Paul was saying you cannot earn salvation by your good deeds alone.

It’s only by the grace of God that you are saved. And that is true.

But it’s not the complete picture. It’s true that God saves you by His grace. You cannot earn it.

But here’s the thought: Does it mean that if I give my life to Jesus, if I say that He is my Lord and my Savior, starting right now, I’m saved?

Yes. That’s true.

So, does it mean that I can go home and kill my very annoying neighbor– but still be saved? It doesn’t make sense…

What Grace Does

That’s true: Grace saves you. But that’s not the only thing that grace does.

Grace also transforms you.

It makes you into a better person. That’s what grace does.

So, Grace is not just this gift that comes from God just so He can rescue you. But it doesn’t stop there.

When you think about the life of Jesus, that’s what He embodied.

Jesus did not do good things just so He could go viral on Instagram.

He didn’t do good things just so He could gain sponsors or gain followers. No.

Jesus did good things. Why? Because He was a good person. It was in His DNA.

And let me remind you right now– just in case you’ve forgotten: That goodness is also in your operating system.

When God created you, He created you in His image and likeness.

But the problem is, what happened?

Over time, the world installed all these malware and viruses in your operating system and now you’re corrupted in some areas in your life.

What is my prayer? My prayer is that God will restart you and reboot you in 2024– so you can get rid of all these things that do not belong to God.

Because you are created in goodness.

I want you to remember that– that God’s grace saves you. But it also changes you to make you into the good person that He designed you to begin with.

God’s Gift

So, here’s my big message for today.

Here’s what I want you to take home:

Everything is Grace. All that you are right now– that’s Grace. Your family beside you? That’s Grace.

Is there anybody here named Grace? I’m not talking about you, haJ.

I’m talking about the Grace of God. Everything is Grace.

Your life is a gift from God. That’s the Grace of God flowing in your life.

Your job. You might work for that company but that’s a gift from the Lord.

Your health. You might be the one going to the gym regularly. But that’s a gift from the Lord. God gives you the energy. Because everything is Grace.

Let us pray right now:

Father, You are at work right now. We don’t really need anything to earn Your love. We already have it. We don’t need to earn salvation. You’ve already given it through Your Son Jesus Christ. And all we need to do is simply open our arms to receive it wholeheartedly and absolutely. And we believe that when we do that, our life will change. We will be saved. But more so, we will become more like Your Son Jesus– to be like Him, to love like Him, to serve like Him. And that’s what we want today, Lord.

I pray that You transform every life in this corner of the room, in that virtual space, to those listening on the other side of the screen, that You would bless them as well. And that today, You would make us feel how much You love us. Thank You for Your Grace that abounds in our life. We do not deserve this.

But still, You give it to us. And for that, we are eternally grateful.

Bless us today. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

My Friends, one more time, lift your hands and give honor to the Lord:

Let’s give the Lord a big hand, Everybody!

Let’s worship Him and glorify Him today! Hallelujah!

A Simple Story

May I start my message today with a simple story?

Who among you loves to play basketball?

Many, many years ago, I was playing basketball with my regular group of friends. Usually, from time to time, there would be somebody invited to play a game with us.

Now, one time, there was this random guy who came into the court, and none of us knew who he was. So, we were thinking, “Who is he?”

He came in strong. With a great aura, and you notice him right away. Why? Number 1, he was wearing the new Nike Kobe 6 shoes.

Now for those of you who do not know basketball, this pair of shoes (named after iconic American basketball player Kobe Bryant) was the Holy Grail of basketball shoes at that time because it was so expensive. It’s the kind you’d just put in a glass case– because it’s expensive.

But this guy, he was wearing it!

To top it all, he was also wearing the Kobe uniform– number 24 (Kobe’s number).

And he had that swagger. He walked in like he knew the game.

So, all of us were excited because this guy had the looks– he looked the part.

And the moment the rubber hit the floor, something crazy happened.

All of a sudden, this guy started fumbling the ball. He tried to shoot but made no shot. He kept on turning over the ball. It was a terrible game for that guy.

So, when we got together, afterward, we were laughing.

Two Ways How We Think We’re Winning

What’s the point of my story? My point is this: Sometimes, there are people like that in the world– puro porma lang.

They dress up just for appearances. Here’s the funny thing: He admitted it — that he’s a newbie.

We said, “Wow, we thought you knew how to play basketball– you’re wearing Kobe 6 shoes,

Number 24– we were thinking you were going to score 61 in this game!”

And he said, “No, no. I dress up like this because I still don’t know how to play basketball.

Because I still don’t know how, I resort to dressing up for appearances. So, even if I don’t win the game, at least in the way I look, I’m already a winner.”

You know, sometimes, I feel like we do the same thing in our spiritual life.

Like we have the wrong scorecard when we think of our relationship with the Lord. Just like that guy. His scorecard was his passion.

So, to him, he won.

But for us, sometimes, I think when it comes to our spiritual journey, we have two different kinds of scorecards– how we think we are winning in this game. You know, running the race towards the Lord. I’ll give you the two types of scorecards.

Your relationship with God is based on Law. So, you have mastered the Ten Commandments. And your relationship with the Lord is based on how well you follow His commandments. How well you obey the Lord.

I’m talking about people whose relationship with the Lord is based on law.

They are not bad people.

The problem is, when your relationship with the Lord is based only on following the Commandments, sometimes, you care only about the Law, more than you care about the intention of the Law.

So, God gave all these Commandments, you’ve memorized them, you know them in your head, but you don’t really know them in your heart.

And there’s one person who was like this. It’s St. Paul.

Offender of the Faith

Paul was one of the greatest defenders of the Faith. He wrote 13 books in the New Testament alone. Paul was the one who wrote the Epistles. He wrote the Letters. He was the one who built churches around Europe and Asia.

But hear this out: Before Paul was the greatest defender of the Church, he was named Saul– who was the greatest offender of the Faith. He was the one who was persecuting Jewish Christians left and right. Why?

Because he believed with all of his heart that what he was doing– to persecute these Christians– was a mandate coming from Above.

It says in Acts 9:1-13:

So, you see, Paul was a student of the Law. He knew the Law. But here’s

the problem with Saul at that time. He was so zealous about the Law that to him, people who were actually following Jesus were offenders of the Faith.

This is the problem when you’re zealous. You think that everything written there, according to your interpretation, is a message from the Lord, the Will of the Lord– and you’re going to push that agenda to other people.

You know who are like this? The terrorists. They’ll kill people. They’ll murder people, and then they’ll say, “God told me to do it. This is the Will of the Lord.”

You see that disordered reality? In your head, you think you’re doing good but in reality, you’re not really following the Lord.

Saul, we read, was persecuting Jewish Christians. Why? Because they were not like him.

You know, when we become so rigid with our faith that we’re only naming all the laws and we’re only naming all the regulations — you know what’s going to happen? We’re going to be a community of condemnation– no longer a community of love. Why?

Because for you to enter our community, you should have memorized our Novena to God’s Love. You should know the Glory Be to the Father. You should have memorized all these prayers. We would have become such a rigid community where policies would be more important than people.

And that’s not what we’re about.

We’re a Community of Love

We accept anybody who doesn’t fit into any group. And we’ll welcome you here. Because that’s what we experienced. That even though we were broken, The Feast, this Community, accepted us. Because that’s what God does.

He accepts the broken people

Talking about Paul, he even boasted. Before he got converted, he was so proud of what he was doing. Listen to this:

This is what happens when you have spiritual pride. Spiritual pride is when you think that you are more righteous and the person beside you is so sinful.

The moment you get into The Feast, you judge everyone around you.

You’re like:

“Look at her, always singing even if she’s out of tune.”

“That guy, always looking at the teleprompter– whoa, he has not memorized the lyrics?”

“Here’s one, not closing his eyes during Worship…”

Well, neither are you. Your eyes are wide open because you’re observing everyone.

Sometimes, we’re so judgmental towards people– just because they don’t fit our kind of faith. And we look down on them.

Be careful. That’s what the Pharisees did. They thought they were protecting their faith– but they did not know that they were killing the Messenger of God Himself.

One of our ugliest habits, sometimes, when we have spiritual pride, we like pointing fingers at people who are broken — but we’re so blind to our own brokenness.

Then he was introduced to us. And we got to talk. And to our shock…You know what we found out? It was only his second time to play basketball.

The Second Way of Winning

There was a woman who went to her doctor and she said, “Doc, there are so many pains in my body. Whenever I touch my head, it hurts. When I touch my neck it hurts. When I touch my cheek it hurts. When I touch my arm it hurts.

When I touch my knee it hurts.”

So, they did a series of tests on this woman. And eventually, the lab results came.

And the doctor looked at the woman and said, “Sis, we found the reason everything in your body hurts.

With fear, the woman asked, “What’s it, Doc?”

The doctor said, “Your finger is broken.”

Sometimes, we look for the brokenness of other people– but we don’t really see that we’re the ones actually broken.

That’s the kind of relationship that’s based on Law. You always try to follow the Law. But we’re imperfect people. I mean, we fail. We can’t always make sure that we follow every Commandment that God gives us. That’s why this relationship will always be flawed.

But thank God, this is not the only kind of relationship that’s available. Because there is that other relationship. The better relationship that’s not based on Law.

But it’s based on Grace.

This is the kind of relationship where you believe that even before you do something good, God already loves you, God already forgives you, and God already accepts you.

Everything is Grace.

Do we have people who believe that?

Everything is Grace. This is a great relationship because this is the kind of relationship that will change you. That will eventually transform you.

And this was what happened to Saul.

How To Really Win

When Saul found out that the disciples of Jesus– Peter, James, and John–  were in Damascus, he set a trip to the place.


Because he wanted to capture them. And he wanted to persecute them. But something happened along the way…

Acts 9:3-5 says:

You see, my Friends, this is a relationship where you realize that even in the dirtiest, messiest, ugliest moment in your life, God still loves you.

And God will still try to fix you.

That’s Grace.

Even if you feel you’re not deserving sitting there, because you have many sins, believe that just by being in the Presence of the Lord, He can forgive you of your sins. Because you believe that Grace is what you need in your life.

Let me share with you one more story… This is fiction but I believe that it’s a good theology.

A man died and then he went to Heaven. When he arrived there, he saw

St. Peter — you know, that vision, St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. So, St. Peter was waiting at the Gate, and the man showed up.

And Peter said, “Okay, this is how it works. Before you can get inside, you need 100 points that will be accumulated based on the good deeds that you did on Earth.”

Only By God’s Grace

So, the guy said, “All right, all right, let’s do it… “First thing I need you to know, Peter, is that I was married for 50 years with the same spouse– never cheated on her, never lied to her, never hurt her.”

So, Peter clapped his hands and said, “For that, you get 3 points.”

The man said, “All right… Hey, Peter, I think it would be good for you to know that when I was alive, I attended The Feast regularly. I was listening to all the Talk series. I also went to church regularly.”

Peter said, “For that, you get 2 points.”

The man thought for more deeds, and he said, “Oh, Peter, did you know that I also gave to our church? I also served in Ministry. Every Sunday I would come very early. I did that all my life.”

Peter said, “For that, you get an extra 2 points.”

By this time, it was getting hard for the man to come up with more deeds.

Then, he remembered one, and he said, “Peter, did you know that when I was alive, I created all these outreach programs– for the indigents, for the unfortunate, for the unprivileged.”

Peter said, “For that, you get 1 point.”

By this time, the man was already irritated. He was like, “What’s happening?”

He could count how many points he had on his fingers and so, he said to Peter, “Peter, by the way that we are moving with this point system, the only way that I’m going to get inside that place is just by the Grace of God..”

Then Peter smiled and he said, “Come on in.”

Everything is God’s Grace. And Grace should change you.

Because I don’t want you sitting there and just thinking, “Well, it’s God’s gift for me to receive.”

But you’ve got responsibility. Because Jesus preached this throughout the Gospels: That our works also have consequences. So, you can’t go around proclaiming that Jesus is your Lord and Savior– and then you’re hurting people left and right. You can’t proclaim that God is your King — and then you’re stealing funds from people.

Because if you’re truly saved by Jesus, by His Grace, then that Grace should make you into a good person.

One more time, tell the person beside you, “Everything is Grace.”

Who Will Pay?

I want to end with one last story.

I shared this many years ago here at The Feast. It’s a story that happened early 2000s. You probably will be able to relate to this.

I was going from Magallanes to Bicutan.

To get to Bicutan, I had to pass through the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX). To enter the expressway, you had to pay a toll, at that time, P25.00, at the toll booth. This was the time before RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device for making electronic toll collection). You actually had to pay in cash.

So, I drove to the line for the toll booth and started looking for my wallet.

I looked at my bag, the glove compartment, under the seat– I could not find it.

Usually, when that happens, you try to look for loose change. And it happened at that time, there was nothing in my car. The only thing that was in my car was my lunch for that day– a packed lunch– rice and two pieces of saba— Cardava banana– the most delicious fruit but also the ugliest.

There was no ATM (Automated Teller Machine) along SLEX where I could withdraw some cash. I did not know what to do. So, finally, I was right at the side of the cashier’s counter. I rolled down my car window. There was an old lady at the counter asking for my pay– P25.00.

I explained to her, “Ma’am, I’m sorry. I left my wallet at home. I have no money to pay you. “

She stared at me– blankly.

And I wondered what she would do to me. All I could think of at that moment was to offer her my two pieces of saba. And my worst fear was that she’d go out of her toll booth, go to my window, and smear my face with that saba. But thankfully, it did not happen.

You know, she said, “Son, you’re not the first to do that. Many forget their money at home. But you know, I’ll take care of your payment.”

And she did. She reached into her pocket and she paid P25.00 so that I could go through.

When I was on my way back home, I made sure to go back to her. And I paid what was due her. She didn’t want to accept the money.

I insisted and finally, she accepted my payment, and she said, “Thank you.”

The Debt Has Been Paid

Here’s my point: When it comes to salvation, we’re trying to earn God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s favor, and God’s Grace through our good deeds.

But I want you to know,

My Friend, that you cannot do it. You cannot, face-to-face, equally trade, and pay what God has willingly given you already.

You cannot afford to do so.

Because that’s what Jesus showed us. He came down to the world, and He allowed that He be nailed on the Cross, willingly. He wanted all of us to know that the debt had been paid. You’re paid. You don’t have to pay. He paid your debt with His Blood. It was His currency. And all we need to do is simply open our arms. This is the only response to the goodness of the Lord. This is it.

Just open your arms and say,

“Lord, I receive You.”

And I imagine the Lord saying to all of you right now, “Children, I took care of it. I paid the bill. It’s been long overdue but I paid for it with my life. It entailed a lot of cost– but you’re worth it.”

The bill had been paid. And God’s Grace flows freely in this world for everybody who needs it, for everybody who longs for it, for everybody who asks for it.

And so if you’re that person right now, open your arms– but more than that, open your soul to receive the Grace, the Gift, and the Life of Jesus.

Let’s pray:

Heavenly Father, at this moment, we receive Your Son Jesus Christ. He is our Lord and Savior. Nobody else. We had crowned other gods in the past. But that was long gone. Today, we crown You with our praise. Today, we accept You as our Lord and our King forever and ever. And today, we freely receive Your Gift,

Your Grace of Salvation. In Jesus’ Name. Amen and Amen.

Your Road to Damascus

Let me tell you about the mystery of God’s love– how this amazing love will change you.

You know, some people might think that before they can face the Lord– before they can come to Jesus– everything in their life needs to be fixed already.

Everything needs to be lined up. You know, everything is in order. No. That’s not how Jesus expects you to come. Jesus expects you to come bringing your sin, bringing your baggage, and then surrendering it to Him at the foot of the Cross.

So, you can be in your messiest, dirtiest, and ugliest appearance and still will not affect how Jesus loves you.

Hebrews says that Jesus has given us the power to approach

the Throne of Grace. To receive the mercy of God. And I believe that right now, we are here at the Throne of Grace.

For some of you, this is your Road to Damascus where you have been persecuting Jesus by sinning against Him. But all that will change because

I believe at this moment, the Light of Jesus will shine upon you — just like it shone on Saul. And it will blind you, it will mold you and it will make you see His Way.

And I’m praying that you become like Paul now — transformed from Saul into Paul, from the old to the new, from the broken to the whole.

That’s who you will be after this day is done. Simply because Jesus is here.

Jesus is here. And this is your Damascus Road, my Friend. Open your arms right now and receive Jesus as your Lord and King. Say this with me:

Dear Jesus, You are my King. You are my Savior. And from this day on, I serve no other. I will worship You. I will serve You and I will love You until the end of my days. Thank You, Jesus, for dying for me. But more so Thank You, Jesus,

for raising me to life. Amen.

This story was first published in the Feast Family Online News Magazine

Published by THE FEAST (February 11, 2024)


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