Thursday, 7 January 2016

Miracle Each Christmas

OG Group Hug
God makes miracles, and every Christmas He leads handful of individuals to organise OG: Open Gathering on December 20, 2015 that aims to “make Christmas merry for new migrants.”

There was uncertainty about OG in 2015, yet things simply fell into place in early December. Honey Rasalan of Migrant Action Trust informed TawagAwit, the ministry that founded the event in 2007, that The Life Centre Trust had set aside Christmas Boxes for new migrants. 

Volunteers came forward and as invitations were sent out, new migrants responded. The OG Gift List increased as the event drew closer; and when we thought we could not find a venue to hold it, the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes in Glen Eden, through its parish priest Fr Mario Dorado, without hesitation agreed to host it.

The program focused on the special guests – the new migrants – with heartwarming songs, with gifts of goodies and with inspiring speeches. Like one family, everyone partook of the food. And the OG Group Hug that formed into a circle of love showed the new migrants how much the organizers, volunteers and supporters cared for them.

OG is but one of the many Christmas programs around the world that gave meaning to the season marking the gifting of God to humanity of His only Son, Jesus Christ, who came to save us from sin and damnation.

“Goodwill to all men” was one of the reasons for the infant Jesus’ coming; and it is for men of goodwill to continue the task.   

Monday, 16 November 2015

The Route of Peace in A Bloodied Trail

The terror never ends.

The trail of blood has encircled the world and led to France again on November 13. Paris became a target as terrorists orchestrated a series of bombings and shootings that resulted in the death of at least 128 people with about 180 others reported injured. Five separate locations were the targets of the attacks with the Bataclan concert venue accounting for at least 80 dead. The US rock group Eagles of Death Metal was performing in a sold out concert in the 1,500-seat hall.

Paris has yet to get over the Charlie Hebdo killings where Islamist gunmen murdered 18 people in a span of three days in January 2015. And now this?

French President Francois Hollande, described the killings "a horror" and promised a "merciless" fight against terrorism.

Initial reports claim that one of the gunmen in the Bataclan concert venue was overheard saying: "It's the fault of Hollande, it's the fault of your president, he should not have intervened in Syria".

Syria, as we know, has become a battle zone for some time as its president Bashar al-Assad continues to hold on to power and pound upon rebels. As a result, the civilians caught in between have crossed the borders to seek refuge in hospitable countries.  In September, President Hollande said France would accept 24,000 Syrians over the next two years.

There is now a sense of wariness among countries that have accepted refugees from Syria. Many ask the question, “How sure are we that there are no terrorists embedded among those seeking asylum?” The answer: There is no guarantee.

The civilised world knows that it has responsibility over peoples who are victims of war, terrorism and oppression.  It will not allow suffering especially for the elderly and the children.

As we advocate for peace, the peoples of the world must in the strongest terms condemn terrorism.  We must not cower in fear. We must continue to tend to the helpless and vulnerable.  We must pursue the route of peace along its bloodied trail.

To the people of Paris, we say, ‘Stay Strong’.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Life According to Jobs

As one gets older, the significance of birthdays dwindles. I know.  I’ve marked the yearly count for 59 years. What brought joy to my heart were the loving gestures of my family and countless friends. Life is a journey that finds meaning in the people we meet along the way.

When I was about to write this piece, I stumbled upon a Facebook posting of Steve Job’s Last Words.  We know how Jobs changed the world with his ideas of products that peoples of the world can’t live without.  His life, as he admitted and many cannot argue, was “an epitome of success.”

The Apple co-founder was a year older than I, and I’ve followed his career from the beginning until his untimely death.  Many of us would want to follow his footsteps; yet we may not realize that the greatest reward we can attain in life is just in our midst and not in a high position, not in a bank account, not in possessions.

Let us listen to the late Steve Jobs:

I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world.

In others’ eyes, my life is an epitome of success.

However, aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to.

At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death.

In the darkness, I look at the green lights from the life supporting machines and hear the humming mechanical sounds, I can feel the breath of god of death drawing closer…

Now I know, when we have accumulated sufficient wealth to last our lifetime, we should pursue other matters that are unrelated to wealth…

Should be something that is more important:

Perhaps relationships, perhaps art, perhaps a dream from younger days ...

Non-stop pursuing of wealth will only turn a person into a twisted being, just like me.
God gave us the senses to let us feel the love in everyone’s heart, not the illusions brought about by wealth.

The wealth I have won in my life I cannot bring with me.

What I can bring is only the memories precipitated by love.

That’s the true riches which will follow you, accompany you, giving you strength and light to go on.

Love can travel a thousand miles. Life has no limit. Go where you want to go. Reach the height you want to reach. It is all in your heart and in your hands.

What is the most expensive bed in the world? - "Sick bed" …

You can employ someone to drive the car for you, make money for you but you cannot have someone to bear the sickness for you.

Material things lost can be found. But there is one thing that can never be found when it is lost – "Life".

When a person goes into the operating room, he will realize that there is one book that he has yet to finish reading – "Book of Healthy Life".

Whichever stage in life we are at right now, with time, we will face the day when the curtain comes down.

Treasure Love for your family, love for your spouse, love for your friends...

Treat yourself well.

Cherish others.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Family Light

Most Christians gather in the cemetery on All Soul’s Day to remember and pray for their loved ones who have gone to the afterlife. We reminisce our times with them, and there are those who can’t help but cry to express how much the dear departed are missed.

As we implore for God to welcome those who have died to His glorious kingdom; let us cherish the company of those who are still with us, especially our parents and siblings.  For the truth is that we have so little time to be with each other as life rushes faster than a wink of an eye.

Spend quality time with each other. Enjoy the moment. Be helpful and considerate at home. Converse more often. Love and defend the family. Pray together.

Today, many families struggle not just financially, but also spiritually. The latter is more serious as the loosened morals of society are taking a toll on families. In one of his homilies, Pope Francis said, "families are not a problem, they are first and foremost an opportunity. An opportunity which we must care for, protect and support."

While there are many who work hard for the spiritual renewal of world, let us be conscious that we can contribute to making God’s presence felt in society through our family. As Satan seeks to cover the world with his darkness, the family holds the light to conquer evil and sin. If God reigns in the family, in the home, the devil will flee. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)  (Bro Mel B Libre)

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Clean the Earth

Everyone wants to live in a peaceful, orderly and clean community.  Who doesn’t?

I live in an inner street named “Danube Lane” that turns pinkish during spring as cherry blossoms bloom.  For years, we’ve not heard of reports on crimes as people of different ethnicities live in harmony with one another.  There is just one tricky issue – tidiness.

Generally the road is clean; but there are a few areas that are noticeable unkempt.  Every Wednesday, the rubbish and recycling trucks collect the organic and non-organic wastes and as they leave, a few unwanted items are left at the roadside.

Enter our little family program, “Clean the Earth”.  During Thursday or Friday, my grandchildren (aged 2 and 7) join me as we pick up litters and place these in plastic containers.  Our usual harvest includes fuzzy drink cans; beer bottles; advert papers; and other sundries.  We place these as part of our home rubbish that are collected on Wednesdays. On days that I announce that we are going to “clean the earth”, Emjey, the younger grandchild, would speedily wear her boots, put on her jacket and ask for gloves. The exercise has become more of a fun activity than a task.

Usually, we show our love for the earth when we participate in ‘Clean Up” drives or Tree-Planting excursions.  One time we pursued a clean-up drive in one of the beautiful beaches in Auckland where we collected so few rubbish, as the area had no residents.  That experience made me think about doing something in my neighborhood where many people lived, and where trash at times are left uncollected until the arrival of the garbage collectors.  The result: the little program, “Clean the Earth”.

Danube Lane is clean most often.  I’d like to think of the place as my Garden of Eden that I work on and keep. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15)