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Prologue


By Renato B. Vibiesca
Faculty member
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

Laging nasisilo o nahuhuli sa bitag ng kuryosidad sa social media o online games ang mga kabataan sa ngayon. Kayong mga kabataa’y tinatawag na mga “digital natives” ay kusang nahahatak ng cellphone, tablet, laptop, pc o anumang gadgets. Natural na nahahalina’t nasisiyahan kayong mag-ubos ng oras sa paggamit nito. Samantala, isa ako sa mga tinatawag na “digital immigrants” dahil noong kabataan ko’y analog na telepono pa lang ang mayroon at napilitang mag-migrate sa teknolohiya ng panahong ito. Kaya ko binabanggit ang mga ito’y dahil may kinalaman ang aking pagninilay sa pagiging bihasa ng mga kabataan sa teknolohiya ngayon.  May suspetsa ako na ang pagbababad sa social media at pagtanghod nila online sa mga nakikita ay maaaring maging kasangkapan din ng pagninilay.  Papaano nangyari ‘yun? 

Alalahanin na henerasyong “graphic-oriented” ang mga kabataan sa ngayon kaya’t mas nakatuon ang pang-araw-araw na buhay sa mga napapanood o nakikitang larawan o anumang graphic kaysa magbasa ng mahahabang teksto sa aklat. Kaya naman laging nakukunsumi ang mga magulang sa tuwing nakikitang nakababad ang mga anak sa gadgets at panay ang dutdot sa cellphone para mag-FB, gayong nakatambak naman ang mga aklat na dapat nilang basahin. Ang ibang mga magulang ay nakapagbigay na ng mga limitasyon sa oras ng paggamit ng mga gadgets ng kanilang anak, pero ang iba’y hindi na talaga mapigilan. Kung minsa’y pati na ang mga magulang ay naaadik na rin sa teknolohiya. 

Sa pagbabasa ng mahahabang lathalain, tulad halimbawa ng mga nobela, akademikong sulatin o ng Bibliya, labis na nangangailangan ng mahabang pasensiya at pagtitiyaga bago pa makapagnilay. Higit na pinaglalaanan ng sapat na panahon ang pagnamnam sa binabasa, hindi kailangang nagmamadali, hinihimay o iniisa-isa ang mga isyu sa teksto. Pinagtatalo pa nga sa isip ang mga diskurso ng binabasa, o nangangailangan pa ng patnubay ng mga eksperto, at pinapadaong sa puso ang diwa mga salita. Ito ang nakasanayan namin noon dahil wala pa ngang ganitong klaseng teknolohiya. Sadyang ganito ang proseso sa pagbabasa, lalo na ng Bibliya dahil gustong makipag-usap ng Diyos sa atin sa pamamagitan ng Banal na Kasulatan.  

Kasunod ang pananahimik ng kalooban o literal na nananahimik sa isang tabi. Huwag ipagkamali na depression ito, bagkus masigla nga itong pagharap sa Diyos upang sa Kanya idulog ang lahat ng hinaing sa buhay. Ang pananahimik o pag-iisa ay akma ng pakikipagkaisa sa kausap upang bigyang puwang ang pakikipagniig sa anumang inspirasyong dulot ng binasa. Kung ang lahat ay maingay, ang bawat mensahe nila’y alingawngaw lang sa ilang na hindi natin mauunawaan.  Ang malalim na pagkaunawa sa binasa ay nagbubunga ng positibong kilos sa pamumuhay. Kadalasang nakakapagod, nakakainip, at nakakaubos ng oras ang proseso ng pagninilay na aming nakagisnan,ngunit bumabalong ang grasya ng Diyos sa ganitong paraan at nanatiling pangmatagalan ang halaga nito.

Sa panahong ito, dahil “graphic-oriented” nga ang mga kabataan, marami sa kanila’y umiiwas sa pagbabasa ng mahahabang teksto, bukod sa ang gusto nila’y may kasamang larawan ang teksto, nasanay na siguro sa mga instant, mga paspasan, mga mini, pang-twitter, o maiikling quotes o short video sa FB post.  Marami sa mga estudiyante ko’y kailangan ko pang i-require na magbasa ng aklat o mahabang babasahin dahil kung hindi’y wala naman silang kusang palo na magbasa ng aklat, pero kapag nagpost ako ng maiikling quotations na may larawan ko na nagpapa-cute  o maikling video na may maikling captions, siguradong pupusuan nila agad ito.     

Kung napapakinabangan nang husto ang teknolohiya at nakakatulong sa pag-unlad sa araw-araw na pamumuhay, wala namang masama na gamitin ito. Higit na malaki ang pakinabang nito kung magagamit din sa pagninilay, sa pagkuha ng inspirasyon, sa pakikinig sa gustong sabihin ng Diyos─sa pakikipag-usap sa Diyos. Ngunit kung magsisilbing libangan lang ito, pampalipas oras, daan ng pakikipagtsismisan imbes na ugnayan ng magkakaibigan, lunsaran ng kasinungalingan, pagyayabang, pagpapainggit, pag-aaway, kaya’t walang humpay na pag-iingay nalilikha, magiging bangungot lamang ng pamumuhay ang teknolohiyang ito imbes na biyayang dapat nating kagiliwan. 


Bukod sa magandang daan ang social media upang makipag-ugnayan sa mga kamag-anak at kaibigan, magsilbing album ng mga masasayang alaala ng pamilya, maging panimula ng pag-aaral at pananaliksik, magsilbing merkado ng sariling negosyo o anumang kabutihan ang maaaring idulot nito, mabisang kasangkapan din ito sa pagninilay natin sa pamumuhay. Sa pamamagitan ng mga balitang nagbibigay ng tunay na kalagayan ng mga mahihirap sa ating bayan, silang higit na nangangailanga’y maaantig din nito ang ating mga puso. Karamihan sa ati’y panay ang tingin sa mga FB post  o instagram pics ng mga kaibigan natin, imbes na humanga’y iniinggit ang sarili sa kaginhawahang natatamo ng iba. Ang iba’y  bukod sa inggit ay naghahanap pa ng mapupulaan sa post ng ibang tao. O ‘yung iba’y sadyang binayaran upang maging troll sa ikasisira ng buhay.  

Huwag lamang daanan ang mga post o larawan ng mga kababayan nating humihingi ng tulong, mga kapwa nating nawawalang saysay ang buhay imbes na mabigyan ng pagkakataong mabuhay, at ang mga walang kakayahan na maiahon ang sarili sa kumunoy ng paghihirap.  Sapagkat bigo ang mga  dumaang namumuno sa ating bayan sa pagbibigay sana ng mga serbisyong dapat lamang na makamtan nating lahat. Gamitin natin ang mga pagninilay ng mga ito sa pagkakaisa sa pagkilos na supilin ang kasamaan at kahirapan sa ating bayan, sa ating komunidad, sa ating pamilya, sa ating sarili.

Kung mapakinabangan man o hindi ang teknolohiyang ito, hindi dapat na manatili lamang tayo sa online o social media o tuluyang gawing libangan lamang ang teknolohiya, mas makabubuti pa ring humanap ng ugnayan sa totoong buhay. Muli nating tuklasin ang pakikiharap sa totoong tao. Hindi lang sa chat o FB messenger makipagtsikahan, makipagkwentuhan nang harapan sa kaibigan. Maglaan ng oras sa pagpunta sa bahay ng mga mahal sa buhay. Mamasyal, makipaglaro, makiramay, makisalamuha sa kapwa, lalo sa mga taong higit na nangangailangan subalit nakalimutan na ng mga may kakayahan sanang tumulong. Kailan ka huling yumakap sa mahal mo sa buhay, o umakbay sa kaibigan o nakipagkamay man lang sa taong hinahangaan o nag-abot ng pagkain sa walang-wala? Kaydaming paraan upang maging totoong tao tayong muli.

Minsa’y tinanong ako ng aking estudiyante na bakit daw bibihira akong mag-post sa FB. Ang sabi ko’y bagaman nakalilibang ang social media, mas madalas na peke ang mga nakikita natin dito at halos sinasakop ng fake news at samu’t saring pekeng pananaw ang nababasa o nakikita rito na nagdudulot ng bagabag, walang kapanatagan, o nagiging toxic na talaga ang humarap sa teknolohiyang ito. Pilitin nating ibalik ang katotohanan sa pamamagitan ng pagiging mapanuri, mapagsaliksik, at lalo’t higit ang maging mapagnilay.


Nais ni Jesus na bumalik tayo sa katotohanan, hindi sa anumang peke, at walang ibang katotohanan kundi ang Diyos. Ang pag-ibig sa kapwa nang personal, harapan, sa totoong buhay, ay ang katotohang nais ng Diyos.  Anuman ang mangyari sa ating buhay, isa lang ang mananatiling katotohanan: ang pag-ibig ng Diyos.


Panginoon, nais naming magpakumbaba sa panahon ng paggunita ng misteryo ng Iyong sakripisyo’t paghihirap. Hayaan Mong makinig kaming mabuti sa Iyong mga huling salita at magnilay nang taos sa puso sa mga gusto Mong ipahayag sa amin upang makamtan ang biyayang nais Mong ihandog sa lahat.

Panginoon namin, hayaang Mong ihabilin namin sa Iyong walang hanggang awa ang mga kabataan sa ngayon, akayin Mo sila sa landas na magdadala sa kanila sa pagtulong sa kapwa na pinagkakaitan ng malupit na tadhana.

Panginoon, naninikluhod kami sa harapan ng Krus upang idulog sa Iyo ang bayan naming nasa panahon ng bagabag, sa kalagayang nalalagay sa alanganin ang mga mamamayan, higit sa lahat ang pagdududa ng mga kabataan sa pag-asang inaasam. Ang buhay nami’y handog sa anumang misyon na Iyong italaga, sapagkat ang aming pagtanggap sa Iyong kalooban ay pagpapadama namin sa aming kapwa ng Iyong walang hanggang pag-ibig at awa. Amen. 

First Word 2019

"Forgive them, Father, they don't know what they are doing."


By Karl Paulo P. Arcega

(Karl is an active parishioner at the St Joseph de Gagalangin Parish, Tondo, Manila. He currently serves as Apostleship of Prayer-Youth President, Grand Choir Director, Organist, and Ministry of Music in the Liturgy Member.)

Ang pag-ibig ang dahilan kung bakit si Jesus ay naparito sa sanlibutan. Ngunit ano nga ba ang ibig sabihin at hanggang saan ang pag ibig na ito? Ipinagkaloob sa atin ng Diyos Ama si Jesus na Kanyang bugtong na Anak upang ang sinumang sa Kanya'y sumampalataya ay magkaroon ng buhay na walang hanggan at kailanma'y hindi mapahamak. Si Jesus ay nakipamuhay sa lupa bilang tao ngunit ipinamalas Niya ang Kanyang pagka-Diyos sa pamamagitan ng Kanyang pagpapagaling sa mga maysakit, pagpapalayas sa masasamang espiritu, pagpapahayag ng Mabuting Balita at marami pang iba. Sa lahat ng mga ginawa at ipinamalas ni Jesus, ang pinakadakila ay ang Kanyang pagtanggap sa Krus. Ito ay ang Kanyang pagpapakasakit, pagkamatay, at muling pagkabuhay para sa kapatawaran ng ating mga kasalanan. Para sa ating kaligtasan. 

Nais kong pagnilayan ang tagpo sa buhay ni Jesus nang Siya’y nagpakasakit. Matapos nang Siya’y ipinako sa Krus, isang panalangin o pakiusap ang Kanyang sinambit, “Ama, patawarin Mo sila; sapagkat hindi nila nalalaman ang kanilang ginagawa”. Siya ay namagitan sa Diyos Ama at sa mga taong Kanyang ipinanalangin. Nakalulungkot na sa kabila ng mga mabubuting gawa at pag-ibig ni Jesus sa tao, mas pinili nila na Siya’y saktan at ipako sa krus kahit wala naman Siyang kasalanan. Kahit ganoon ang nangyari, hiniling ni Kristo ang pagpapatawad ng Diyos Ama. Naiintindihan ni Jesus na hindi alam at hindi Siya kilala bilang Mesiyas ng mga taong ito. Imbis na magalit, nagpakita ang Panginoon ng habag at awa ng dahil sa Kanyang pag-ibig sa atin.

Sa aking pagninilay, ang hamon sa akin at sa lahat  ay magmahal, magpatawad, at patuloy na magmahal.

Naitanong ko sa aking sarili, kaya ko rin bang ibigin ang mga taong nanakit sa akin? Kaya ko bang kahabagan, kaawaan, at patawarin ang mga taong nagpahirap sa akin na labis kong minamahal? Kaya ko bang limutin ang sakit na dulot ng taong nagpaluha sa akin? Kaya ko bang patuloy na mahalin ang mga taong ito? 

Si Jesus ang nagpapatunay na kayang magpatawad ng taong nagmamahal. 

Kaya, kaya ko rin at kaya natin basta’t may pag-ibig. Bilang tao, alam kong mahirap at may proseso ang pagpapatawad ngunit pag-ibig pa rin ang siyang sagot upang mapadali ito. Matuto nawa tayong lumimot sa nakaraan at mamuhay sa kasalukuyan at hinaharap. Matuto nawa tayong buksan ang puso at magtiwalang muli. Matuto nawa tayong magpatawad gaya ng pagpapatawad ng Diyos.

Isa pang hamon para sa atin ay kilalanin at pagningasin ang pag-ibig sa Diyos. Ito ay mabisang paraan upang makaiwas sa kasalanan, na utos Niya rin sa atin.


Nais kong ibahagi ang aking personal na debosyon sa Mahal na Puso ni Jesus. Nakilala ko ang debosyong ito nang ako’y mapabilang sa grupo ng mga kabataan sa Apostolado ng Panalangin (AP). Lumalim ang pagkakaalam ko kay Jesus sa pamamagitan nito. Ang Puso ni Jesus ay sumisimbolo sa Kanyang nag-aalab at walang hanggang pag-ibig. Ating makikita sa larawan na ito na tangan ng kaliwang kamay ni Jesus ang Kanyang Puso samantalang nakalahad naman ang Kanyang kanang kamay at tila hinihingi ang ating mga puso at nangungusap: Aking anak, ipagkatiwala mo sa Akin ang iyong puso. Nais Niya na ang puso natin ay laging angkinin. 

Minsan ako’y napipigilang ibigay ang puso ko dahil  nababalot ito ng kasalanan. Ang turo sa atin ng Simbahan ay ikumpisal ang mga kasalanan upang ito’y patawarin at makapagbagong-buhay, kaya ito’y ikinukumpisal ko. Alam kong magagalak ang Diyos sa muli kong paglapit sa Kanya at ang pag-amin at pagsisisi sa mga nagawa kong kasalanan. Sa pagkakataong tinanggap ko ang sakramentong ito, masasabi ko na handa akong ialay ang aking puso at ang buong sarili sa Diyos. Mahalaga rin na tayo ay makapagbayad-sala. Kailangan nating gumawa ng mga kongkretong hakbang para ayusin ang gulong dulot ng ating mga pagkakamali. Kung magagawa natin ito, tiyak ko na nasa landas tayo tungo sa kabanalan.


Bilang kabataan sa AP, misyon ko na ipalaganap ang debosyon sa Mahal na Puso ni Jesus. Mag-alab nawa ang lahat ng puso sa pagmamahal sa Diyos upang tayo'y maging mahabagin rin kagaya Niya, upang tayo'y maging mapagpatawad at lumimot sa sala ng iba. 




Prayer 


Pinupuri ka namin, pinakamamahal na Puso ni Jesus dahil sa Iyong pag–aalay ng sarili para sa katubusan ng aming kasalanan at sa aming kaligtasan. Pinupuri ka namin sa Iyong dakilang pag-ibig na nag-uumapaw at patuloy na nag–aalab para sa amin. Ang Iyong dakilang Awa sa amin ay hindi Mo ipinagkakait at lagi Mong ipinapaalala na Ika'y naririto at handang magpatawad. 

O Mahabaging Puso ni Jesus, dumudulog kami sa Iyo ngayon na patawarin Mo ang aming mga kasalanan at sa mga kasalanan ng mga taong hindi pa nakakakilala sa Iyo. Ang mga kasalanang paulit-ulit naming ginagawa at ang mga kasalanang nakalimutan na naming ikumpisal. Ipadama Mo nawa sa amin ang Iyong dakilang habag at awa tulad ng Iyong ipinahayag sa mga taong sa Iyo’y lumapastangan at umalipusta nang Ikaw ay nasa Krus. Patawad, Panginoon, patawad.  

Salamat Panginoon sa mga biyayang aming natatanggap at matatanggap pa sa pamamagitan ng Iyong Mahal na Puso. Ang mga grasyang aming ninanais sa oras na amin itong kailangan. Salamat Panginoon sa Iyong presensya sa mga oras na kami ay nasa panganib, kalungkutan, at kawalan ng pag-asa. Salamat Panginoon, salamat.

Mahal na Puso ni Jesus, dumudulog kami sa Iyo na ipagkaloob ang aming mga minimithi at mga sariling kahilingan. Buksan Mo nawa ang aming puso at isipan, lagi Mo kaming paalalahanan na sa Iyo lamang madarama ang dakilang pag-ibig at awa. Sundin nawa namin ang Iyong kalooban. Itinataas namin sa Iyo ang mga kabataan, na matularan nawa nila ang mga kabutihang bagay na taglay ng Iyong Banal na Puso at patuloy na magningas sa kanila na Ikaw ay ibigin, tularan, at paglingkuran. Ipagkaloob Mo nawa sa aming mga mahal sa buhay na yumao ang kapahingahang walang hanggan. Amen.

Second Word 2019

"I promise you that today you will be in Paradise with me."


By Rose Anne Arriesgado

(Rose Anne is the youngest in her family. She is currently working as a nurse at the Philippine General Hospital and a volunteer lector/commentator at the Manila Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.)

I'm depressed. I feel so alone. I am numbed with everything that happens in my life. No one seems to understand me. These lines or words are so rampant nowadays. While technologies help us connect more easily, why is it that there are still a lot of people who feel not connected? As I reflect on the Gospel of Luke about two thieves hanging on the cross, one on the left of Jesus and the other was on his right, I could not help but think that they were all suffering, pain was all over their bodies and death was near. Both of them were guilty of crime. Both of them wanted to be saved from death but in different perspectives. The unrepentant thief who was sorrowful and with so much bitterness recognized Jesus as Savior only to ease his earthly sufferings. The good thief with all humility recognizes Jesus as His Savior who could bring him in heaven. We saw how these two men responded in times of difficulties, affliction, and despair. And we saw that Jesus was with them throughout their last moments. 

A lot of millennials nowadays feel that they are alone in their journey, that no one seems to understand what they are going through, that even on social media where everyone seems to have connected they felt that they are disconnected. The Gospel passage reminded me to be Jesus to those two thieves in our lives, to those people around us. All of us encountered these two men. Like them, we have also experienced and responded the way they did. At times, we behaved unrepentant, putting the blame on others. But there are also moments when we admit our failures and ask for forgiveness.

As what Pope Francis said during the recently World Youth Day in Panama: 'to nurture the culture of encounter'. We need to encourage each other to keep on walking and to bear witness. We need to journey with the young people: to be present in their difficulties, affliction, and despair; to radiate the face of Jesus on the cross; to make the youth feel that they are not alone facing life's difficulties. 

At the brink of death, the repentant thief fully surrendered to Jesus. Our Merciful Redeemer took notice of this and promised the thief that he will be with the Lord in paradise. Paradise could be ours too, if in the midst of chaos in life we are at peace knowing that Jesus is with us and in us. 

God is not silent when we suffer. He comes close to those in need. So keep your eyes open to Him and to everyone around us. By being aware of His presence, let us be humble like the repentant thief. In Jesus alone we could find the salvation we long for. Let me leave you a quote from Pope Francis, "Christianity is a person who loved me immensely, who demands and asks for my love. Christianity is Christ”. Let us be another Christ in this world. 




Prayer 
Jesus on the cross, I am a sinner, forgive and have mercy on me. I repent of my sins and ask You for the grace to be remembered by You in Your Kingdom. I thank You most sincerely for being here with me. For opening my eyes to those people who are suffering. For assuring me that You are with me, journeying with me and not leaving me alone especially on those times of pain, suffering, and difficulties. Help me to also become like You to those people around me who are suffering, especially those who are suffering silently. Bless me that I may radiate Your love and Your compassion. Amen.


Third Word 2019

"He is your son… She is your mother." 

By Cyrine Halili

(Cy is a senior high school student at the University of Santo Tomas. She is a STEM student aspiring to be a chemical in engineer. She was a former member of her previous school’s Ministry of Lectors and Commentators and in her spare time, she likes reading novels, watching movies, and painting.)

Every day, we wake up and face our own struggles. We pick ourselves up, stand tall, put on a face, and we prepare ourselves to conquer these challenges that life throws at us. Every day, we fall against adversity and we are left powerless and hopeless. When we encounter these kinds of scenarios we tend to move away, hide, and look for an easy way out. Pain is something that we are all afraid to feel and when all these negativities get the best of us, we are weakened and we feel as if we are alone. 

I myself feel as though the challenges that I face are something that I cannot overcome and those negativities cause a series of pessimistic voices in my head saying that I will never find a solution to this, that I am not good enough and that I am all on my own when it comes to overcoming them.  But in John 19: 25-27, Jesus reminds us that we are not alone when it comes to facing all the hardships in our lives. When Jesus told John from the cross that Mary is to be his mother, he is telling John that he is not alone for Mary will be there to guide him. This also pertains to us. Jesus is also telling us that Mary is our mother in faith and together with Mary, we have our own mother here on earth - be it our birth mother or our guardian - who loves and cares for us much like Mary loved and took care of Jesus. 

Through this passage, Jesus tells us that we are blessed with someone who will always have our back. These persons in our lives will be our rock and our guide in sailing through life. This passage also reminds us that Mary, together with the Holy Trinity, will always be in our hearts guiding us and helping us every step of the way. Because of the love, support, and guidance that Jesus and those around us give us, we are reminded that we can overcome whatever problem and temptation we face and that we are not alone. 

Aside from reminding us that we are not alone in times of struggles and problems, the passage also reminds us of the responsibility that we have on each other. When Jesus told John “.. Here is your mother.” , He emphasizes on the responsibility that John has for Mary. As his son, John also needs to take care of Mary. Like us, who are sons and daughters of our own parents, we have to take care of our parents. We have to love them, respect them, and care for them. Soon when we are old enough, we also need to provide for their needs when they are not capable of doing so. 

Aside from our own parents here on earth, God the Father and Mary also acts as our father and mother. Like the responsibility we have for our parents, we also have a responsibility to maintain and nourish our relationship with God and Mary. By always talking to them in prayers and reflections, by following God’s commandments and by respecting and loving them, we can fulfill our responsibilities as children of God and of Mary. The passage also tells us that we have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters and not just to our parents. We must extend our hands to those who need help, and we must offer our shoulders for them to lean on in times of difficulties. As we are the family of God, we must keep love as the foundation of all our actions and words towards one another and even in ourselves.

As Jesus reminded us in His Seven Last Words, we are not alone and there will always be people who will love us, accept us, and help us no matter what we do, or say. No matter how fast paced, demanding, and chaotic our environment can get, this Holy Week, we are reminded how blessed we are to have Mary, the Holy Trinity, our parents, brothers and sisters, and all our loved ones with us as we live our lives in faith. May we, as children of God, not forget our responsibility in spreading God’s saving love to our brothers and sisters. May we remember to fulfill our duties to God, our Father, as we ask for guidance, forgiveness, and strength as we fulfill our responsibility to uphold love and spread the Good News of salvation as children of God. 





Prayer 


Lord Jesus Christ, I thank You for Your continuous support, guidance, and love. Thank you for always being here with me through all the ups and downs I had encountered. Thank You for blessing me with overflowing love and guidance from You and from the people that I love. May You bring me closer to You and help me be an instrument of Your love to others. Help me to fulfill my responsibilities to You and to the people around me. May You strengthen me to be humble, obedient, and a symbol of Your love and peace. Amen.


Fourth Word 2019

"My God, my God, why did you abandon me?"


By Francene Chiara C. Santiago 

(Cai is a Youth Servant at the Light of Jesus Youth Missions. A graduate from De La Salle University, she is the youngest daughter of Benj and Fely Santiago, our regular writers in God-speak.)


I grew up in family who is so called “churchy” by others. As far as I remember, we’d always go to Mass every Sunday, during holy days of obligation, Easter, and Christmas. So as a child, I “knew” who Jesus was, or so I thought. Through the years, I’ve met the Lord more through our community, Light of Jesus Family. I became part of the youth ministry and I served since 2010. I really thought I knew God. I thought I’m close enough to Him. I would always say that I will allow God to use me so that I can align my plans to His. Of course, being a good servants doesn’t always come easy. There are always challenges and the usual challenge is self-worth. 

As far as I remember, I never looked at myself as worthy while growing up. I’ve always thought that one has to be smart, the Number One in class, or maybe the most beautiful kid in the block to be worthy. I've always been insecure of myself because I was so afraid of getting bullied and I use to hide this insecurity by being boyish and befriending boys. 

I had a different perspective of worth when we entered the ministry. I’ve learned that it was not about what I can do or what I will do but rather, my worth is based on who I am: I am a child of God. During Holy Week of 2016, I thought I knew my self-worth, but insecurity showed itself again. I felt insecure to my own sister. She leads the worship at our church and man, she was really good! She’s capable of leading the congregation in unison, praising and worshipping God will all that she could. She was someone people would look up to in our ministry and often than not, whenever our friends introduce me to other people, they would always say “Hey, by the way, she’s the sister of _____”.

I went home, looked at myself in the mirror and asked God, “Lord, I thought we are already close enough? Why do I have to experience this? And really, with my own sister? Why Lord? Why does it have to be me?” For some, this would be shallow. But that time, I was really hurt. I didn’t know my own identity. I asked my friends in the ministry to pray for me because all the while I thought that if I serve the Lord, I won’t experience pain. But I was wrong. All the more that the enemies will tempt me, all the more the enemies will whisper in my ears “You’re a loser. You’re nothing.” I felt Jesus' pain when He shouted on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:33-34). Jesus was God’s son. He was His only begotten son and with a snap a of a finger, God could bring Him down but He didn’t. God wants us to be reminded that He gave up His only begotten son for us so we could live a full life. 

Because of my insecurity, I wasn’t able to live a full life. Instead of giving my all, I was consumed by the false truth that I’m not worthy. Because of this insecurity, I subconsciously disobeyed my sister, I didn’t want to talk to her or if I do, I would always talk back at her. I was mean and rude. My sister had enough and she asked me what’s wrong and then my insecurity came up. “I hate being compared to you. I’m honored to be your sister, I respect you a lot, but I want to be me. I want to be known as myself.” My sister comforted me with this words, “I love you and you're worth more than that.” 

My God did not forsake me. Funny how the person that gave me pain also gave me the comfort that I needed. God wants us to know that we are important, we are loved, and we are worth so much more than we think we do. Jesus suffered and died because our worth is not just based on who we are, but based on our God.




Prayer 

Lord Jesus Christ, You have been faithful to the Father's will till the end. Help us to remember how precious we are in Your eyes. You are always here for us, help us to affirm the faith of others, especially the vulnerable.  Amen.


Fifth Word 2019

"I am thirsty!"

By Huseng Langgam 

(Huseng Langgam is a writer and columnist at the Pilipino Star Ngayon. Actively involved in the Family and Life Ministry of Couples for Christ, he is also an artist, illustrator, and youth mentor.)


"Pagkatapos nito alam ni Jesus na naganap na ang lahat ng bagay; at bilang katuparan ng kasulatan ay sinabi niya, "Nauuhaw ako." (Juan 19:28)

Hindi nakapagtatakang mauhaw si Jesus nang Siya ay nakabitin at napako sa krus. Siya ay uhaw dahil nauubusan na siya ng tubig sa katawan. At patuloy ang pag-agos ng Kanyang dugo na halos bumalot sa Kanyang buong katawan. 

Lugmok sa hirap at dusa. Sa bawat patak ng Kanyang luha, ng Kanyang pawis at dugo ay unti-unting nauubos ang Kanyang lakas. Hinagpis at pagtatangis na bunga ng kalapastangan at walang pakundangang pangungutya at dahas ng mga taong Kanyang minahal at pinagmalasakitan.

Sa pagkaubos ng Kanyang ulirat at bago pa Siya malagutan ng hininga, ang sigaw ni Jesus na ating Panginoon at Tagapagligtas ay pagtagubilin. 

Ako ay nauuhaw!

Ang Kanyang pagbikas nito ay nagpatunay na ang Diyos ay naghahangad din. Isang paghahangad na hindi para sa Kanyang sarili kundi paghahangad na matupad ang kaligtasan ng lahat. 

Sino nga ba tayong mga tao upang hindi mahiyang tumayo sa harapan ni Kristong nagdurusa at sumisigaw?

Ako ay nauuhaw!

Masdan mo tao ang ginawa mo - sa kabila ng walang hanggang pag-ibig ng Diyos Ama - nilapastangan at hinamak mo ang Kanyang Bugtong na Anak. 

Ako ay nauuhaw!

Ang Kanyang huling kahilingan bago Siya malagutan ng hininga. 

May isang mangkok doon na puno ng maasim na alak. Itinubog nila rito ang isang espongha, ikinabit sa sanga ng isopo at idiniit sa kanyang bibig. Nang masipsip ni Hesus ang alak ay kanyang sinabi, "Naganap na!" (Juan 19:29-30)

Nagpapatunay na batid ng Diyos ang halaga ng ating buhay at ng ating kaligtasan. Kahit noong panahon pa ni Moises nang makatawid sila sa dagat hanggang sa bigkasin ni Jesus na siya ang “Tubig na Buhay”. 



Tubig ang bukal na pag-ibig ng Diyos. Si Jesus nang Siya ay bininyagan nanahan sa Kanya ang Banal na Espiritu ng Diyos na ating  kalakasan bilang mga Kristiyano. Sa paglubog sa Kanya sa tubig na ang ibig sabihin ay itakwil ang kasalanan at magkaroon ng bagong buhay. Isang pagpapaalala ng ating misyon bilang mga “Kristiyano nang tayo ay binyagan sa tubig”. Isang pag-alaala ng ating pagsilang sa espiritwal. Bininyagang kasama ni Kristo at mamamatay kasama Niya at kasama Niya  hanggang sa Muling Pagkabuhay.

Ako ay nauuhaw!

Sa kabila ng bawat pagsubok at ng ating kahinaan si Jesus ang sukatan ng ating kalakasan at ng ating pag-asa. 

Ako ay nauuhaw!

Sa kabila ng kawalan ng katarungan, sa kabila ng kadiliman at sa kabila ng ating pusong wasak, batid ni Jesus ang ating dinaranas. 

“Suffering is nothing by itself. But suffering shared with the passion of Christ is a wonderful gift, the most beautiful gift, a token of love.”, ani Mother Teresa.


Nawa ang ating pagkauhaw ay matulad kay Jesus. Siya ay nauuhaw dahil sa Kanyang malasakit sa iba. Ang mauhaw na kasama ni Kristo at para sa Kanya ang dapat umiral sa ating pamumuhay bilang sambayanang tinubos Niya mula sa kasalanan, bilang mga kabataang Kanyang minahal, biniyayaan, at binigyang-kapangyarihan. 




Prayer 

Nakiramay Ka Panginoon sa mga taong uhaw sa pagmamahal. Nakiramay Ka sa mga taong uhaw sa kalayaan at kagalakan sa buhay. Higit sa lahat nakiramay Ka sa mga taong wala nang maasahan pa. 

O Panginoong Jesus na daluyan ng tubig at dugo ng awa at habag, kaawaan Mo kaming mga makasalanan. 

Kami nawa’y maghangad hindi ng kung ano pa man bagkus hanapin namin ang tubig ng kapatawaran na nagmumula sa Iyo. Amen.


Sixth Word 2019

"It's Finished!"
By Cristine Aye P. Balla, ECE

(Cristine recently graduated from university and has just entered the workforce. She likes reading, watching, and observing. She aspires to be like Iron Man - someone who can use their technical knowledge for others. She is the eldest daughter of Anabelle Balla, our Faith Section Editor.)

Jesus knows that He has accomplished the things He had to fulfill. There is that sense of accomplishment. The suffering that He had gone through has paid its toll. The feeling of fulfillment fills Him. It is for us that He suffered and fought. He had done what He must do and like every after accomplishment, there is a feeling of calmness.


Before entering college, I actually did not know what to expect. But I went ahead and got into Engineering, Electronics Engineering to be exact. I knew it was going to be hard, but I really did not know how hard it really was until the third year where we had our first major subjects. I found myself frustrated, crying over exam after exam. Sometimes, I even questioned why I was in this course doing all these. Most of time, I found myself to be unmotivated and bound by laziness. It felt like everything was a ‘must’ and just like jobs for me to finish and get over with. But once I ‘fail’ or things do not appeal as planned, I found myself frustrated. 


Then I came to realize that I felt this way because I still care. I still knew deep inside what I still wanted – not to get high grades, not to please everyone, but to be an engineer or maybe be like Iron Man, my original goal. So after every depressing episode, I would always tell myself that these mistakes and failures I had are part of my journey, my life. I just have to accept it, learn from it, and move on. I tell myself that these hardships will help me build myself.


During those hard times, I always thought that God was there. I always notice that every time I thought I was late or when something important came up, almost always, the circumstances seem to favor me when I gave a second thought on those things afterwards. Like the time when the traffic was heavy, somehow, I would make it on time. Or when it starts raining hard only after I entered the classroom. Sometimes, I would feel agitated for things not going the way as I planned but still I found myself conveniently fine afterwards. That is why nowadays, I find myself being able to control my thoughts and feelings more because I tell myself that God may have something else planned for me. Which is why many times, when I am feeling lazy, I notice things are getting convenient that it is like I am pushed to do things that I am supposed to do. Sometimes, I think I really have to squint for me to realize these things. But I like observing and analyzing which is why I would really feel bad if I did not do the things I am supposed to considering the situations in front of me.


I also like reflecting because I find that through reflections, I realize and find things that can easily be missed. And through reflections, I mostly find myself thankful to God and for others that it drives me to want to achieve my goals not just for me, but for others too. It is that sense of accomplishment and results that make the hardships and agony worth fighting through. It is also the things that I bring to others with my goals that I feel complete and that I really feel that sense of fulfillment and content.


So then, even after failing some exams, I find myself passing all subjects and managing to graduate on time and without any failing marks. Additionally, I passed the board exams for Electronics Engineering last October 2018. I also got hired on my first job application for a job that I really wanted to have. These are the things I asked God for, for me to reach my goals and use my attainments for others. 


When Jesus declared, “It is finished.” He may have been referring to the accomplishment of His goal which is man’s salvation, our salvation. He went through suffering and agony just for us to be saved. In spite of these, He carried on. Let Him inspire and accompany us in making things happen, more importantly in "making all things new" (Rev 21:5).




Prayer 


Dear Lord,

We adore You and recognize that You have suffered for us. We are sorry that at times, we forget You and what You have done for us. We thank You for the salvation that You have brought to us. Please, we ask of You, that we find inspiration to accomplish our goals for ourselves and for others too, but mostly for You. Amen.


Seventh Word 2019

"Father! Into your hands I place my spirit!"

By Gerardine P. Navatilan

(Gerdie is a Medical Technologist. She is a former Student Catholic Action Member at the College of the Holy Spirit Manila and a former Medical Technology Intern at the Dr. Paulino J. Garcia Medical Memorial Research Center.)

Noong magsisimula pa lang ako lumakad sa daan tungo sa kolehiyo, maraming pagsubok ang aking naranasan, halimbawa na lamang yung separation with your family kasi malalayo ka sa kanila at matututo kang makipamuhay sa agos ng buhay sa kamaynilaan, hindi mo alam kung paano ka magsisimulang mamuhay nang wala kang kakilala. Oo, mahirap ang tunay na buhay sa Maynila, dito mo matututunan lahat ng diskarte ng buhay habang nag-aaral ka para maabot ang pangarap mo.

Hindi lamang dito nagsisimula ang totoong pagsubok sa buhay, nagsisimula ito kapag nakarating ka na sa 3rd Year sa Medical Technology na tila mo ay sumasabak ka sa Jurasic Park. Bakit? Kasi dito mo masusubukan pagtitiwala mo sa Panginoon sa kabila ng kaliwa't kanang assignments, projects, research, at laboratory works samahan pa natin ng araw-araw na quizzes at exams na hindi mo alam kung saan kumukuha ng tanong ang inyong pinakamamahal na professors. 

Mararanasan mo rin dito paano ka lulusot sa butas ng karayom para maging isang magaling kang Medical Technologist balang araw, kasi you are dealing with people's lives at hindi ito biro. Hinding hindi ka puwede magkamali. Hindi kasi ito tulad halimbawa ng Accountancy na you're dealing with numbers. Ang pagkakamukha lamang nito ay ang analysis. 


Dito rin magsisimula ang perseverance hanggang sa mag-internship (OJT) kayo, kasi minsan yung mga hindi papalarin na hindi pumasa sa ibang subject at kailangan nilang ulitin o hindi na tatanggapin sa program ay lilipat na lamang ng school para maipagpatuloy ang nasimulang pangarap. Habang inaabot mo ang iyong pangarap matututo kang magtiwala at ipaubaya lahat sa Diyos sa kabila ng maraming failures na makukuha mo kapag exams at quizzes. Pagkatapos mong malampasan ang lahat ng ito, maibabahagi mo na kung paano ka lumabas sa isang Jurrasic Park habang nakasakay sa isang Ferris Wheel. Habang umiikot ay nag eenjoy ka sa iyong challenging task.

Hindi nga ba’t minsan marahil ay nasabi na natin, pagkatapos ng isang krus sa ating buhay, “Sana nagtiwala pa ako nang lubos sa Diyos. Ipinaubaya ko na lang sana sa Kanya ang lahat ng nangyari sa buhay ko”? Nangyari. Paano kaya yung mangyayari? Kung hindi natin kayang ipaubaya sa Diyos na ating Ama ang nangyari, huwag na tayong umasa pang ipaubaya sa Kanya yung mangyayari pa lang. Gusto nating ipaubaya sa Diyos ang ating buhay magpasawalang-hanggan? Bueno, tantunin natin na ang magpasawalang-hanggan ay nagsisimula ngayon!




Prayer 

O mahabaging Diyos, tulungan Mo po ang bawat kabataang manatili sa nasimulan nilang pangarap sa buhay hanggang sa maabot nila ito. Matutuhan nawa nilang ipaubaya sa Iyo ang mga pagsubok sa buhay nang hindi bumibitiw dahil kapiling Mo sila. Panginoon, magpadala Ka ng mga banal na alagad sa iyong Simbahan. Amen.

Epilogue 2019

By Grace B. Madri├▒an
Features Editor, Anluwage.Com


In preparation for the 500th year of Christianity in the Philippines, the Church established 7 themes each year since 2013. This year, 2019,  has been assigned as “The Year of the Youth”.  Looking at the progression of the theme each year,  it is evident how great importance was placed on youth to have been dedicated a separate year for celebration.

With 60% of the population being under 30 years old in the Philippines, I could not agree more why utmost attention is needed for the youth.  This age range is considered critical, sometimes fragile but malleable enough to be molded into the best propagator of His Word.  They are lively, vibrant, and bold. If you can ignite that small spark of faith within them, with their influence and creativity, they can spread like wildfire.

“Let the children come to me “ (Matthew 19:14), goes our theme for this year.  We must be instrumental to the growth of our youth and encourage them more often rather than criticize their different means in doing things.  May we be good role models of faith and love of God and neighbor.

Thank you for your continued support to the online annual Holy Week Special. May the reflections written by our very own youth give us inspiration and hope that our faith is alive and will live on to the next generations.



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