Talk 3:

HAPPY NEW YEAR, Feast Bay Area Family! Welcome to the very first Feast of 2023! You are history-making because you are in our very Feast! How many of you had a wonderful Christmas season? How many of you gained wait like me?

Perhaps by now, you have unwrapped all of your Christmas gifts.

Question: Did you like your gifts? Yes!

Another question: Those edible gifts— are you blaming them for your weight gain? Why on earth food gifts are so trendy?

Did you have Christmas gifts wish lists? Did your friends and family fulfill your wishes? Yes! Great.

I’m sure no matter what happened, we all had a blast. We all had so much fun unwrapping our gifts this Christmas season.

So, let’s applaud God. Because our gifts are really wonderful blessings from our family and friends. But here in The Feast, we were able to receive the best gifts this Christmas. We were able to unwrap the best gifts this Christmas season because we had a wonderful mini-series called Unwrap: Receive the True Gifts of Christmas.

Unwrapped Gifts

In the First Talk, we unwrapped the Gift of Peace— we learned we should learn from our past, we should live in the present, and we should obey the leading of God wherever He is taking us. That’s when we will achieve Peace.

The second gift we unwrapped was the Gift of Joy. And we learned from Bro. Bo that joy is a feeling and an attitude that we should relish, that we should enjoy. That’s what God wants. To enjoy and relish that feeling no matter what our situation is.

Now, we will be closing this beautiful mini- series and we will be unwrapping the third gift. And we need this gift now more than ever.

Now that it is a New Year. Now that we are having a new season. We are having new beginnings. We need to unwrap this gift.

And it is the Gift of Hope.

As we unwrap the Gift of Hope, I will be preaching to you this very important message: Hope is our light.

The Word of God in the Bible strengthens our hope in the Lord.

Let us glorify the Lord by singing:

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and the light unto my path.

Be Patient

And now, we shall read from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans, Chapter 8, Verses 24-25:


Next week will be the Miss Universe pageant.

If we already know the outcome of the pageant, will we still hope for our Miss Philippines to win? No more.

Next week the Australian Open— the tennis tournament— will start. And our very own Alexandra Eala is playing in that tournament— She might be the first Filipino grand slam winner. Let’s pray for her. Now, if we know the outcome of the Australian Open, will we still hope for Alex to win? Maybe, no more.

Single people, now, if you already know the outcome of your love life this year — and you know there’s still no one for you— will you still hope to find your one true love? Maybe, no more.

When we say there’s already a winner, we already know the outcome.

So, we won’t hope anymore.

But God is telling us in our Bible passage you hope for those things you cannot see. You hope for those things that are impossible. Those your mind cannot fathom. You hope for those things. And be patient. And I assure you— God assures you you will fulfill those dreams and aspirations and answered prayers.

Let’s glorify His Word again by singing:

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and the light unto my path.

I’m sure even if it’s the New Year— even if it’s full of hope, full of joy that we are all here— I’m sure some of us are going through something difficult. I’m sure there is some darkness in our life even if we are in the New Year.

Maybe sickness in the family or death. Some of you might be suffering from poverty, and unemployment. Some may be already drowning in credit card debts and loans, oppression, brokenness, strained relationships in the family.

Yes, many of us, we are experiencing so many difficulties. So, sometimes, it’s difficult to hope. Maybe it’s difficult to see that our problems will have solutions. Sometimes, it’s difficult to imagine or envision a day when we no longer have these problems.

Don’t worry if you feel that way. Because that’s what we’re talking about. Those are the times you can no longer see solutions to your problems. And I’m telling you now it’s the best time to hope— when you’re feeling a bit hopeless. Don’t be hopeless.

Hope is our light amidst the darkness right now.

Hope is the light that will show us the power of Jesus in our life. Hope is our light that will illuminate our path toward what we cannot see, going to that place, that situation, that time we cannot envision right now. That time when you have achieved your dreams. That time when your prayers have been answered by God. That time when you are successful already.

You are debt-free. You are rich — you are a millionaire. You have achieved your dreams. Give the Lord a big hand!

Oh, I love Pope Benedict XVI. Let’s continue to pray for his soul. Pope Benedict wrote this beautiful encyclical about hope. It’s titled Spe Salvi in Latin. In English, Saved in Hope. And I love this quotation from this document:

Who among you prepared 12 or 13 round fruits on New Year’s Eve? I’m sure those who did believe that these round fruits will give them prosperity. Bro. Bo asked earlier who jumped on New Year’s Eve. I have been jumping since I was a kid. It worked for me— I grew vertically and horizontally :)

I was kind of scared earlier when Fr. Paolo Asprer said, “Take care of your body.” And he was looking at me…:)

Yes, I’m sure we jumped because we believed we would grow taller. But as Bro. Bo said it didn’t work for some.

And how many of you displayed the cat moving its arms up and down— just the arms, not the body? Or the frog being fed with coin. Or the money tree.

Did you display these items during New Year’s Eve? I’m sure some of us believed these luck-inducing decorations would bring abundance to our households and our families.

Well, I respect all beliefs. I respect all of the cultural practices that we do during the New Year. We also do them in my family. But I believe in what Pope Benedict said: that our great and true hope is God alone.

Two Stories

Let me share with you two stories. About my friends— lady doctors.

One doctor— she’s very successful. I love her. She’s very kind. She’s very bright— she’s brilliant, she’s intelligent. She’s beautiful inside and out. But at age 50, she was still NBSB— No boyfriend since birth.

I don’t understand. She’s not mean. But she’s very successful, she’s driven.

Perhaps, some men can’t level up to her, so no one’s courting her. And she is the only child of her parents. So, she’s the breadwinner, since she earns well. She’s also very generous. She helps her aunts and uncles. She sent some of her nephews and nieces to school.

She consulted me when she turned 50 because she was already undergoing menopause.

Then I asked her, “Do you still want to get married? Do you still want to have a husband— at the age of 50? But you won’t have a child anymore. Do you still want to get married?

She said, “Yes, I am still hoping to get married. I still want to have a family.

I can adopt a child.”

You know, at the age of 52, she met an AFAM. For those who do not know, AFAM means A Foreigner Around Manila. She met a 54-year-old AFAM — a caucasian American, a widower with two teenage children. They met online, and that AFAM pursued her here in the Philippines. And long story short, they got married— two years later. My friend was then 54 years old, the AFAM 56 years old. And what’s great is the teenage children, they love her! — It’s not like the common story where the children bully their stepmother.

So, now she has a family. She was hoping for it. When she turned 50, it seemed impossible. She couldn’t imagine it, but she still hoped for it, and she got what she hoped for. Let’s applaud the Lord!

Catechesis of Hope

Okay. My other friend. Also a successful doctor — one of those doctors who are few in their kind of specialization. She consulted me, and I diagnosed she was with late-stage ovarian cancer. Late-stage of ovarian cancer— at the peak of her career, at the prime of her life. And she had to undergo extensive surgery—toxic surgery.

I thought she would die during the surgery because cancer had already spread in her body.

She underwent months of chemotherapy.

Then I was talking to her, we were praying together— she has strong faith in God.

She’s also the breadwinner of her family. And she said, “I’m still hoping to be healed.”

But I knew the prognosis of late-stage ovarian cancer. She’s a doctor so she also knew the

prognosis. But she hoped against hope that she would be healed.

You know, it’s been seven years since that diagnosis. She’s still cancer-free. We already reported her case in our medical literature because — very late-stage cancer, still alive to this day.

These two stories are wonderful stories of hope. The lesson is we have to be patient. We have to hope for what we do not see but we have to be patient.

Let me share with you this catechesis of hope:

Sometimes, it’s very hard to be hopeful, right? Like, if you’re already going through many dire situations, can you still be hopeful? Give me a chance to be hopeless. Because it’s so hard to maintain that state of being hopeful. But we can be hopeful all the time because of the grace of the Holy Spirit. That’s what the Church is teaching us.

We Remain Hopeful

Let’s continue to read:

When it seems impossible, Jesus gives us the grace to remain hopeful.

Parents, I’m sure you’re doing your best to provide for your kids. I’m sure you are doing your best to be the most loving, the most understanding parent — even when you already feel like pinching your kids.

You are doing your best to raise them well.

But still, you pray for your kids, right? But still, you lift your children to God and hope that they will be godly and responsible and responsible citizens and that they will be successful.

Yes, after doing everything for them, we still hope for the best for our kids.

Now, are there graduating students here? My niece is graduating from senior high. Isn’t it that students, they’ll do their best in school — I hope they’re doing their best— they’re doing their best to study, to adjust to situations. Like, there’s no teacher, you’re just at home, you have to study on your own.

I’m sure they do their best to develop themselves. But after doing everything right, they still pray. They still hope that they will get into their dream college, their dream university— that they will be accepted into their dream course.

Those graduating from college, after doing everything right, they still pray and hope that they will get into their dream company, into their dream profession.

My niece is now taking the admission exam in La Salle.

Even if we do everything right, God still gives us the grace to be hopeful, to lift everything to Him.

What We Hope For

Remember our message today:

But still, there is darkness in our life.

We thought the COVID Pandemic was already on the wane. How come now, there’s another variant? Why is there another surge of COVID cases in China? But we are hopeful that this variant will not reach the Philippines. We are hopeful that we have enough herd immunity already.

Because, by the grace of God, almost 80 million Filipinos are fully vaccinated. 80 million is already 80% of our population — because we are 110 million.

In Med school, our lessons say that 70% means we already have herd immunity. So, we are really hopeful that herd immunity will protect us. We are hopeful that even if there is a surge in cases in other countries, we won’t have a surge here.

And we will no longer have a lockdown. COVID will just be like the flu— we will no longer be scared of it. It will be only mild. Let’s continue to pray for that and be hopeful.

What about the price of onions? We continue to pray that the traders — those controlling the prices— we hope will be touched, we hope they will think of us— instead of their profits. We are hopeful despite the crisis.

When you look at the Internet, when you look at social media accounts why are there many negative news or comments? Why are there so much bashing and hatred? And worse, why is there so much sexual content — just to attract views?

Why should posts be sexual in nature? But we are hopeful that when we open the Internet, we will be inspired. We are hopeful that when we browse our social media, it will have a positive impact on our life. That’s what we hope for.

So, let’s hang on. We should make sure that our hope is our light this year.

That the light of hope will burn ever so bright this year.

Four Ways To Make the Light of Hope Shine Brightly

We can make the Light of Hope shine brightly through these four ways:

This is what Pope Benedict said:

So that we will not lose hope— despite the darkness around us— hold on to Jesus. This New Year is the best time to ask ourselves: How’s my prayer time? Do I still set aside prime time to pray to Jesus? To talk to Him? Or I do that just when I am in the comfort room because that’s the only time I remember Jesus. I’ll just insert my prayer during that time.

Do you set aside time throughout the day to listen to Jesus? That’s something we can reflect on this New Year. Do we still pray to Him? Do we still talk to Him?

What about your Scripture time?

When we read the Bible, that’s when Jesus talks to us. And the Bible is the manual of our life. So, do we set aside time to read the Bible? Catholics don’t read the Bible so much. Let’s change that. This 2023, reflect on that and make a resolution or a decision to read the Bible every day.

We have many aides in reading the Bible— You might still have no Didache

(Daily Bible Reflections for Catholics) or Gabay, the Tagalog version, or Sabbath (Scripture Meditations for Daily Life). They are now selling at discount prices.

Go buy your copies:

We start the year with the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Hold onto Mama Mary. Pray to her. She’s a very good intercessor.

Whenever I need prayer, what comes to my mind is the Wedding at Cana.

(The wine ran out. Mary asked Jesus to provide wine. And the Lord answered it’s not yet His time to make miracles.

But He went on with His first miracle:

He turned water in the jars into wine— John 2:1-12).

Mary is our No.1 Intercessor. She lifts our prayers directly to her Son. Hold on to her. She has only one goal: To bring us closer to Jesus. That’s her primary goal.

Pope Benedict said:

And Mama Mary is the No. 1 Light of Hope. She is the Star of Hope that will guide us like the star in the Epiphany story that will lead us to Jesus.

Let’s hold on to the saints. Hold on to the examples of the saints.

Let me tell you the story of St. Josephine Bakhita. She was born in Darfur, Sudan.

At the age of 9, she was sold as a slave — five times. And all of her five masters would beat her up— 9 years old to 13 years old— four years. She was beaten up every day, continuously.

What was her only hope?

She wished she’d have a kind master who would not beat her up.

After four years, she was sold to a master who brought her to Italy. And that master was Catholic— a very kind master who introduced her to Jesus Christ.

She didn’t dream that she would come to know Jesus. Her only hope wasto have a kind human master. And then she was introduced to Jesus Christ and she realized there was even higher than a human master.

Jesus is the Master of all. Her Master who won’t judge her, who saved her— very kind, very loving, compassionate, merciful, Master of all masters—

Jesus Christ.

And Josephine chose to be baptized at the age of 21. She received the Holy Eucharist for the first time. And then a few years after that, she professed her vows already with the Canossian Sisters. And she became a missionary in Italy.

Let’s applaud the Lord for the example of St. Josephine Bakhita And this is what she said— perhaps we also say this always:

Whatever happens to us, our life is good because God is waiting for us. We should be able to say that. We’ll follow the example of St. Josephine.

The Fourth Way to keep the Light of Hope burning this year is this: Hold on to Others.

So, my challenge to you:

Let’s be hope-givers this 2023.

Pope Benedict said:

So, ask yourself: What can I do to save others? What can I do to give hope to others?

Let’s be hope-givers. We don’t have to be preachers here onstage to be hope-givers. Let us give hope to others by preaching the Gospel of Jesus to the ends of the Earth. And how do we do that? With the way we live our life. With the way we treat our family. With the way we are with our friends.

With the way we treat the lowest in society. With the way, we interact with others. With the way we conduct our relationship with our officemates, with our schoolmates, with our neighbors.

We don’t have to preach onstage or anywhere else. That’s not our strength or that’s not our gift. We will be hope-givers if we will be loving, merciful, compassionate, understanding, patient with others.

My dear wives here, just being patient with your husband, you’re already a hope-giver.

Let us remember: Hope is our light.

And there is darkness right now. I hope we will be the Light of Hope to others. That’s our goal this year. Let us spread the Light of Hope. Let us spread the Light of Jesus to others.

Maraming Salamat, po. Thank you very much.


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