Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A Flock of Birds

The flock of bird leaders met to discuss their plan for the avian festival. The dove suggested that a side event could focus on those who’ve lost their wings for whatever reason.  The crow responded negatively, explaining that the side event would diminish attention to the festival. “Those disabled ones will also require additional work with the special care they need. We don’t have enough resources for them,” he added.  Dove responded: “But isn’t it our responsibility as well to bring the beauty of flight to those who can no longer fly?”

The gathering became unwieldy as the members of the flock sided with either of the two speakers.  The chair bird, Eagle, had a hard time containing the loud chirping, as he himself couldn’t decide where to side. “Let’s put this to a vote,” he ordered.  When the votes were counted, dove’s suggestion obtained majority support.  “The side event for lost wings will happen,” announced eagle, “but dove, for making the suggestion, is responsible for this.” 

Dove was happy and sad at the same time. Happy for the unwanted birds; sad of the half-hearted support by their leader.  As he was about to fly back, a number of his colleagues in the leaders’ flock came forward asking how they could help. He wasn’t alone after all. But what moved him the most was the gratitude of hawk who told him that he broke one of his wings once, and how lonely he was in his brokenness. He told dove, “Nobody helped me then, but that is alright. What lifts my heart is that we can do something to the least ones.”

Dr Ludwig Gutmann of the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in UK was much like dove, by doing something to the least ones. He hosted a sport competition (called International Wheelchair Games) on the opening day of the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, for British World War II veteran patients with spinal cord injuries. This continued in 1952 and had taken the name “Stoke Mandeville Games”.  Twelve years from 1948, the first official Paralympic Games happened in Rome during the 1969 Olympic Games. The fifteenth edition of Summer Paralympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016 with 204 nations expected to participate.

Each individual has a place in the world. Each individual has a role to play.  The handicapped have as much right to have fun as those physically-able. The poor are as deserving as the rich to enjoy the gifts in life.

There are those who think they deserve better than others, so they work to accumulate more than they need. As a result, there is imbalance in the distribution of resources and of wealth.

Try we must to be instruments to regaining dignity for the hapless and the helpless on earth. For with God, they have a special place in His heavenly kingdom.

Heed we must to Christ’s teaching:” For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’”  (Matthew 25:35-40) 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Private Tiny

Drill Sergeant PG, as usual, came out early to wake the squad of young penguin recruits in the boot camp.  In less than five minutes, they were all good to go for the cold morning run, swim and catch exercises that would take nearly a day.  They were told that the trainings these days were more grueling than in the past, as the ocean was more polluted and the fishes fewer.

Except for Private Tiny, the rest of the squad had the build and stamina to cope up with the standards of Drill Sergeant. Private Tiny always came out last in the every aspect of the exercises. Even how much the Drill Sergeant pushed him, still the little penguin just couldn’t cope up.

When graduation time came, each of the cadets was given their assignment. All except Private Tiny took the heroic task of hunting for food in the farther parts of the ocean.  He was given the post of lookout, to march to and fro daily at one of the higher elevations near the colony.  It was a thankless job, without much challenge.  But Private Tiny attended to his job enthusiastically and diligently. Tasked to make a daily account of what he observed, Private Tiny made detailed reports to the Chief Scribe.

One day, Private Tiny noticed an unusual movement in the glacier overlooking the colony.  At first, there were snowflakes as the wind became stronger than usual.  This was a snow storm! He immediately ran towards the warning horn and sounded this with all his might.  The sound stunned all the penguins, as they moved in fast cadence to a safe area. And then suddenly, an avalanche of snow totally wiped out the penguin colony.  Not one penguin died, except that Private Tiny was missing.

The penguin community including Drill Sergeant PG and the squad searched for Private Tiny.  They found him buried under the snow, just a few meters from the warning horn. And he was breathing! They carried him to the where everyone had settled and as he regained consciousness he could hear them shout, “Tiny, our hero!”

Saint Benedict the Black was a slave who became a solitary. Though he did not know how to read and write, he became the superior in the hermit community which was disbanded by Pope Pius IV.  He persisted in serving the Church, settling as a Franciscan lay brother and cook of St Mary’s convent near Palermo. He rose through the ranks becoming the superior of the convent, only to be relieved and returned to being the cook.  He attended to his assigned task with fervor and love, while at the same time performed miracles, and was sought as a confessor that brought many to the faith.  Though humble was his work as a cook, he became God’s instrument to be believers and unbelievers.

There is no thankless job. Everyone has an assigned role in the world, and we are meant to do our job well out of love. How therefore should you approach your job? “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people…The Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Wednesday, 15 October 2014


The sheep farm was safe from wolves.  Farmer relied much on Gwardia, the guard dog, who had proven time and again of his courage against the predators that preyed on the sheep.  At times, Gwardia would bark aloud to awaken Farmer who’d bring his shotgun to scare the wolves.  But there was one time that Farmer was too tired that he failed to wake up; leaving Gwardia to fight off two wolves.  The guard dog suffered deep wounds, but was able to recover and return to his duty.  

One particular night, a she wolf lured Gwardia away from his post, while the rest of the pack killed several sheep.  Gwardia was then attacked by the wolves and would have died, had he not crawled towards a hole enough for him to hide.  For days, he took refuge in the hole. Though hungry and weak, he did have not courage enough to return to Farmer, ashamed of his failure.  

Little did Gwardia know; that Farmer was searching for him.   It was the fourth day that Gwardia could hear the voice of Farmer growing nearer and nearer.  Gwardia wanted to stay hidden, and just die in the hole; yet he could feel Farmer’s voice of worry and care.  Gwardia forced a deep howl of repentance that caught the attention of Farmer who pulled him out. Farmer then carried Gwardia tenderly back to the house.

The parable of the lost sheep and that of the prodigal son come to mind.  The shepherd left the ninety-nine in open country to look for one lost sheep. And even if his son squandered all that he had given him, the father was overjoyed when his prodigal son returned home.

For as long as one repents and turns a new leaf in life, God will embrace the individual in His loving arms.  Mary Magdalene was a sinner; yet she turned her back on her life of prostitution to follow the ways of Jesus, and as such, is revered as a saint.  According to one author, “there are over thirty saints who were very ungodly before they changed and after some time achieved saintly characters.” Among those are St Paul, St Olga, St Mary the Egyptian and St Camillus de Lellis.

How many times have we failed to follow God’s commands? We hide in our shame. There are others who take their own lives unable to cope with the burden they carry.  But we are never held captive by sin and Satan.  We can call upon God.  He is just a whisper away. “God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.” (Psalm 53:2)

Monday, 6 October 2014

Supreme Moa

The land later called Aotearoa was uninhabited except for birds. The vegetation was lush and bountiful. The eagle was the king of the skies.

Yet there were flightless birds whose wings were not strong enough to take them off the ground.  The moa was supreme in the ground.  The mature ones reached 12 feet in height and weighed 510 pounds. With its beak like a pair of secateurs, it could easily clip leaves and twigs for food. And when provoked, these beaks proved fatal to others.

No bird would want to ever encounter a moa. More so by the almost blind kiwi birds that could see about six feet at night and around two feet during the day.  

An elder kiwi bird told others of how he had seen the might of the moa when a fight ensued between the giant bird and an eagle. He was so near that he was almost hit by the giant feet of the moa.  The eagle attacked the moa, but the latter was able to bite the former’s face, knocking it to the ground. The eagle died as the huge claws of the moa flattened its body to the ground. The story spread among the kiwi birds that then feared moas.  Most decided to hide underground and settled for worms as food.

Then the Maori people came and settled in the land.  The huge birds became fair game. With their slow speed in running and their having difficulty hiding their huge bodies, the giant birds were killed for their meat. The kiwi birds remained in hiding, safe from humans. When they were discovered, people had other sources of food, and the kiwi birds were deemed unattractive for cooking.

Today, the kiwi bird is protected, while the moa has long been extinct.

The world has seen the rise of mighty empires, yet not any of them survived.  Either they were conquered or succumbed to internal strife. Then there are communities that remain intact for centuries, untouched by civilization, living in harmony with nature.

Many people in these modern times seek fame and fortune, yet they fall hard in sin and shame; while there are those who commit to living in poverty and prayer, and are rewarded by the Living God with eternal bliss.

“Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last." (Luke 13:30)

Tuesday, 30 September 2014


MaBird left her four baby birds in the nest as she searched for food very early in the morning.  She looked for worms in the meadows, in the bushes and in the trees.  Four worms or insects would just be fine; instead, she was lucky, having caught six worms.  She ate one for herself as she needed to energize herself for the day.  Nearing the nest, she could hear the young ones crying out for food.

 When she landed, the birdies had wide-opened bills. She fed one worm each.  When they had consumed their share, they started to ask for the last one with MaBird.  It was not much of a problem for MaBird; she had divided the one worm into five pieces.

Fr Alfonso Dujali of St Joseph Catholic Church, Helensville, in one of his homilies shared his experience in Papua New Zealand when he was assigned in a remote island.  To spice up the calendar of activities, he proposed the holding of sports competition during a meeting among the locales. He said that the champion would get the highest cash prize, while the second and third placers get lower amounts of cash prizes. What happened next surprised him.

The participants in the meeting would not agree to the proposal on the prizes. He then asked why. The response was: the prizes should be equally divided. He then realized that the tradition of the people of the island was that whatever was brought to the community, everyone had an equal share.

In today’s world of materialism and competition, people tend to obtain more than they need and win at all cost. While these may have contributed to economic progress and innovations on one side, the downside is the increase in the gap between the haves and have-nots. I remember some time ago that farmers in a European country decided to dump their produce into the sea rather than give these away to people in the verge of starvation in Africa.

Humanity must unlearn some of practices of modern societies, and return to those that created communities where there was peace, harmony and equality. “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.”  (Acts 4:32)