Monday, April 27, 2009


What is swine flu?
Swine flu is a respiratory disease normally found in pigs and caused by type A influenza viruses. While outbreaks of this type of flu are common in pigs, human cases of swine flu do happen. In the past, reports of human swine flu have been rare—approximately one infection every one to two years in the U.S. From December 2005 through February 2009, only 12 cases of human infection were documented.

How is it spread?
Humans with direct exposure to pigs are those most commonly infected with swine flu. Yet, human-to-human spread of swine flu viruses have been documented, however it's not known how easily the spread occurs. Just as the common flu is passed along, swine flu is thought to be spread by coughing, sneezing, or touching something with the viruses on it.
If infected, a person may be able to infect another person one day before symptoms develop and up to seven or more days after becoming sick. Thus, a person is able to pass the flu on before they know they are sick. Those with swine flu should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are demonstrating symptoms and up to seven days longer from the onset of their illness. Children might be contagious for longer periods of time.

Can I catch swine flu from eating pork?
No. The CDC says that swine flu viruses are not transmitted by food. Properly cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160°F kills all bacteria and viruses.

What are the symptoms of swine flu?
Symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of a regular flu: fever and chills, sore throat, cough, headache, body aches, and fatigue. Diarrhea and vomiting can also be present. Without a specific lab test, it is impossible to know whether you may be suffering from swine flu or another flu strain.

What precautionary measures should I take?
The same everyday precautions that you take to prevent other contagious viruses should be used to protect yourself against swine flu. "The best current advice is for individuals to practice good hand hygiene. Periodic hand washing with soap and water, or the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when hand washing is not possible, is a good preventive measure. Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as germs can more easily gain entrance into your body through those areas," suggests
Dr. Rob Danoff. Covering your mouth with a disposable tissue when you cough and sneeze is also a good practice.
The CDC recommends avoiding contact with sick people and keeping your own good health in check with adequate sleep, exercise, and a nutritious diet.

What should you do if you think you are sick with swine flu?
Contact your health care professional, inform them of your symptoms, and ask whether you should be tested for swine flu. Be prepared to give details on how long you've been feeling ill and about any recent travels. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed. If you feel sick, but are not sure what illness you may have, stay home until you have been diagnosed properly to avoid spreading any infection.

Watch for these symptoms in children. Seek emergency medical care if your child experiences any of the following warning signs:
Fever with a rash
Fast breathing
Bluish skin coloration
Slow to wake or sluggish interaction
Flu-like symptoms improve, but then return and cough worsens
Severe irritability

For adults, emergency medical care is needed if you experience these warning signs:
Difficulty breathing
Severe or persistent vomiting
Pain/pressure in the chest or stomach
Remember that the symptoms for swine flu are almost identical to those you might experience with the regular flu. Only your doctor can give you the correct diagnosis.

Are there medicines effective in treating swine flu in humans?
The swine flu responds to the use of
oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza) for those infected. For treatment, these antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms).

Monday, April 6, 2009



In the Gospel we had just read, we learned that Mary Magdalene was so surprised when she saw that the stone that covered the tomb where Jesus' body was lain had been moved away. The Gospel of Saint Matthew related that she and other women met an angel who announced to them: "You are looking for Jesus the crucified, but he is not here. He has been raised, exactly as he promised"(Mt. 28:5-6). Then, they hurried away from the tomb half-overjoyed and half-fearful, and ran to carry the good news to his disciples.

When Peter and John received the news about the empty tomb, they immediately ran toward the tomb. John arrived first but did not enter instead bent down to peer in, and saw the wrappings lying on the ground. He waited for Peter and together they entered the tomb. This is because according to the Jewish Law the testimony of two witnesses is juridically valid. Since both Peter and John went in together, their verification constituted a valid account. They saw that the wrappings were "rolled up in a place by itself." No thief would have gone through the trouble of removing the bandages just to leave them there; it would have been more logical for the thief to have taken away the body wrapped in bandages. This is to refute the theory of the chief priests that the body of Jesus was stolen by the disciples.

In the light of the foregoing, factual evidence of Christ's resurrection as shown by the empty tomb is not an invention of the early Christians. In fact, Christ Himself made sure that His followers would believe in the reality of His resurrection. He stayed on earth for forty days more after His resurrection to appear before His disciples - to Simon Peter, to the Twelve and to more than five hundred brethren (cf. 1 Cor 15:6). The number of eyewitnesses is more than enough to establish the truthfulness of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.

Christ is risen! These words express a truth that has been handed down to us by the Apostles. They remind us that Christ's resurrection is a historical fact. The New Testament tells us how the Apostles experienced the Risen Lord, who was only seen by them, but was perceived by touch and by every form of communication and perception man is capable of. Our faith, my dear brothers and sisters, rests on these eyewitnesses of the apparition of our risen Lord. "If Christ had not been raised", says St. Paul, "our preaching is void of content and your faith is empty too" (1 Cor 15:14).

There are many reasons for celebrating this beautiful and unparalleled event. For one, without Christ's resurrection, we will still be slaves of Satan; without His resurrection, we are still dead to sin. But because Christ rise from the dead, we have been freed from the clutches of the devil. In the words of last night's Easter praises, we continue to proclaim joyfully that "the power of this holy night dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy; it casts out hatred, brings us peace and humbles earthly pride."

With Christ's resurrection, we are given the hope that we shall also have a similar resurrection. We shall raise up with Him. Therefore, Christ's resurrection is also ours. In this regard, St. Paul tells us that "if we have been united with Him through likeness to his death, so shall we be through a like resurrection"(Rom 6:5). These words inspire hope, create encouragement and produce joy. They also challenge us to prove our oneness with Christ in His resurrection by the life we live. "Since you have been raise up in company with Christ, set your heart on what pertains to higher realms where Christ is seated at God's right hand"(Col 3:1).

St. Paul once again reminds us: "When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery"(Gal. 5:1). To be really free is to live the resurrection experience by rising our defeats and spurning with out lives the creeping postures of death. Faith in the resurrection leads us to a renewed hope in the preponderance of possibilities of a new life. We rediscover our real identity as persons whose vocation is to be in union with God and with others. We leave behind the tombs of isolation, selfishness, hatred, and sin to be God's servants of life. We emerge as re-created persons reaching out in communion with one another, celebrating the communal faith in the Risen Christ. Simply to say, we have to undertake a life that is new - that which follows the teachings of the Gospel. Then will our actions ring the joyous notes of an Easter allelluia song, and we shall become a living proof of Christ's resurrection.

Another reason for us to be joyful on this day is because Christ's resurrection gives a rich meaning to our Sunday Eucharistic celebration. In fact, the early Christian Jews changed their time-honored last day of the week observance of the Sabbath to the first day of the week and called it the Lord's Day. That is why, Sunday is a special day of gathering for us as a community of believers; we celebrate the Mass and collectively proclaim the mystery of our faith: "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again."


Easter Sunday Homily
Gospel: Jn 20:1-9
Theme: We know that Jesus is alive and risen because we can feel his risen power at work in our lives.



A small boy and his grandfather were fying a kite on a hill. The kite soared into the sky, then suddenly a low cloud hid it from their sight. The granfather said to the boy, "Bobby, maybe some thief up in that cloud stole your kite!" The boy shook his head in disagreement. "But Bobby," said the grandfather, "how can you be sure that the kite is still at the end of your string?" The boy replied, "Because I can feel something you can't feel. I can feel the kite tug at my string."

That story illustrates whu many people who were not privileged to see Jesus after His resurrection were sure, nonetheless, that he had risen from the dead. They were sure for the same reason the boy was sure that no one had stolen his kite. They felt the tug of Jesus in their lives. In other words, they experienced the power of the risen Christ at work in their hearts.

* * *

Before Easter Sunday many people were filled with doubt. They had seen Jesus die a terrible death on Good Friday. They had seen Jesus nailed on a cross and had watched their dreams die before their eyes. But then came Easter Sunday morning. News spread throughout Jerusalem that the rock that sealed the tomb had been rolled away and the tomb was empty. The Jewish authorities told the guards at the tomb to say that someone had stolen the body while they dozed during the night (cf. Mt. 28:13).

At first people wondered about the guard's story. Was it really true? Did someone steal the body of Jesus? But as time passed, the people became sure beyond doubt that the body had not been stolen. Jesus had, indeed, risen!

And the reason the people were sure is the same reason that the little boy was sure that no one had stolen his kite. They felt the tug of Jesus in their lives. They felt the power of Jesus at work in their lives.

* * *

Transformed by this power, the people went forth to tell the good news to all the world. No amount of persecution could stop them. Eventually, some of them were crucified, like their master. Others were ripped apart by wild beasts in the Roman Collosseum. Still others were burned alive at the stake. But their belief in Jesus never wavered. The lives of these early Christians changed the course of history.

Today, 2,000 years later, modern Christians still feel the tug of Jesus. They still feel the power of Jesus at work in their hearts. An example is a missionary who for years has been working among the poor. In spite of all his efforts, he saw absolutely no progress. He says: "I became despondent... I finally reached the breaking point one night... I was beaten... When I went to bed, I didn't know how could I continue." The next morning, shortly after he awoke, something strange happened to him. It was as though Jesus himself said to him, "Can you not trust my plan for you? He writes: Then I realized that I did not have to see the plan, I only had to trust Him. I arose from my bed a different person... My encounter with the living Christ changed me from a broken defeated person into a person with unshakeable hope and faith." Today, the missionary's work among the poor is bearing remakable fruit.

That story is what Easter all about. It is the good news that Jesus is risen and in our midst. It is the good news that Jesus has a plan for each one of us. And nothing can interfere with that plan is we don't let it - not pain, not sorrow, not rejection, not sin, not even death.

* * *

Easter invites us to let Jesus help us trust again after we've lost our ability to trust.
It invites us to let Jesus help us love again after we've lost our ability to love.
It invites us to let Jesus help us hope again after we've lost our ability to hope.
It invites us to let Jesus help us pick up the broken pieces of our lives and start over again after we've given up.

* * *

Easter is the good news that Jesus has triumph over sin and evil; and so will we, if we but open our hearts to His Easter power.
It is the good news that Jesus is ready to work miracles in us, if we but open our hearts to His Easter power.
It is the good news that every Good Friday in our lives can be turned into an Easter Sunday, if we but open our hearts to His Easter power.


Friday, April 3, 2009


(Mt. 27:46; Mk. 15:34)

Diyos ko, Diyos ko, bakit mo naman ako’y pinabayaan? Panaghoy ng isang nilalang na waring pinabayaan ng Diyos; ng isang tao na ang hinaing ay hindi napakinggan o ang kanyang panalangin ay hindi nabigyan-pansin. Isang sigaw ng nagpapahiwatig ng damdamin ng kawalang-halaga, ng itinakwil, ng nag-iisa, ng binale-wala, ng kawalang-pag-asa.

Subalit, teka; hindi ba’t mula sa bibig ni Jesus, ang mahal na Anak ng Diyos, nagmula ang mga katagang ito? Hindi maaaring mangyari ito! Paano pababayaan ng Ama ang kanyang anak na maraming beses na nagsabi: “Ako at ang Ama ay iisa”. “Ako ay sumasa-Ama at ang Ama ay sumasa-akin”. Bakit nga ba nasambit ni Jesus ang ganitong mga kataga? Bahagi ba ito ng misteryo ng Kanyang pagiging tao, o talagang matindi ang kanyang dinaranas na paghihirap.

Diyos ko, Diyos ko, bakit mo ako pinabayaan? Sa ganitong mga salita, si Jesus ay tunay na tao! Siya ngayon ay nakararanas ng matinding paghihirap na siya ring dinaranas ng tao. Hindi ba’t ganito rin ang panaghoy ng mga tao, makasalanan man o banal?

Sa Lumang Tipan, si Haring David ay ganito ang panambitan sa Salmo 22: “vO Diyos ko! Diyos ko! Bakit mo ako pinabayaan? Sumisigaw ako ng saklolo, ngunit bakit di mo ako tinutulungan? Araw-gabi'y tumatawag ako sa iyo, O Diyos, di ako mapanatag, di ka man lang sumasagot.”

Gayundin din ang butihing si Job. Sa kabila ng kanyang pagiging mabuti sa paningin ng Diyos ay dumanas pa rin ng maraming trahedya sa buhay; nawala ang kanyang lupain, mga alagang hayop, ang kanyang anak at asawa, nawala ang lahat sa kanya. Tunay na pinabayaan na siya ng Diyos. At dapat lang na magalit si Job sa Diyos: "Ako'y nagsasawa na sa buhay kong ito, sasabihin ko nang lahat, mapapait kong reklamo. Aking Diyos, huwag n'yo muna akong hatulan, sabihin ninyo sa akin ang inyong paratang. Tama ba namang iyong pagmalupitan, parusahan at itakwil ang likha ng iyong kamay? At ang gawain ba ng masamang tao ang iyong magugustuhan? (Job 10:1-3).

Ilan beses na rin ba nating narinig sa tao: Diyos ko, bakit po ba nangyari ang mga bagay na ito? Diyos, bakit naman kami’y iyong pinabayaan?

Kapag may mga kalamidad, tulad ng baha, bagyo, sunog, lindol: bakit iyon pang maliliit na bahay ang nasisira, mga mahihirap ang unang nagiging biktima. Bakit sila pa, Panginoon?

Sa loob ng mga hospital, kung saan ang isang mabuting magulang o asawa o anak pa ang magkakaroon ng kanser o malubhang karamdaman. It’s unfair, Lord!

Ang mga masisipag at matitiyagang manggagawa, mga tatay na maagang gumigising upang mag trabaho, ay siya pang unang tatanggalin sa trabaho.

Ang mga kabataang nalalason ng droga, bisyo at pita ng laman, bakit pinapayagan ito ng Diyos, na lubos na nagmamahal sa mga musmos, sapagkat katulad nila ang paghahari ng Diyos.

Ang mga naparatangan ng isang krimen na hindi naman nila ginawa, mga nabilanggo dahil sa kahirapan, mga bata na iniwan ng mga magulang, nasaan ba ang iyong katarungan, Panginoon?

Masasabi nating nararanasan ng tao ang ganitong waring pagpapabaya ng Diyos dahil na rin sa kasalanan! May mga trahedya sa buhay ng tao dahil sa kasalanang kanyang nagawa. Subalit sa kabila ng pagiging makasalanan ng tao, isang ang tiyak na masasabi ko: Mahal pa rin ng Diyos ang tao!

Subalit si Jesus ay walang kasalanan. Bakit kailangang pabayaan rin siya ng Ama? Ipinaliwanag ni San Pablo sa kanya Sulat sa mga taga Corinto: “Hindi nagkasala si Cristo, ngunit dahil sa atin, siya'y itinuring na makasalanan upang sa pamamagitan niya ay maging matuwid tayo sa harap ng Diyos” (2 Cor 5: 21). Sa madaling sabi, waring pinabayaan ng Ama si Jesus sapagkat inako niya sa sarili ang kaparusahan sa kasalanan ng tao! Nakiisa si Jesus sa tao sa pamamagitan ng pagpasan sa kasalanan ng tao at kasama na rin nito paghihirap na bunga ng pagkakasala.

Samakatuwid, maari rin natin sabihin na: Pinabayaan ng Ama na magdanas ng kahirapan ang kanyang Mahal na Anak na si Jesukristo, ng dahil na rin sa tao, para sa kaligtasan ng lahat. Napakadakilang pag-ibig: “vSapagkat gayon na lamang ang pag-ibig ng Diyos sa sangkatauhan, kaya't ibinigay niya ang kanyang kaisa-isang Anak, upang ang sinumang sumampalataya sa kanya ay hindi mapahamak, kundi magkaroon ng buhay na walang hanggan”(Jn. 3:16). Tiniis ng Ama na pabayaan ang Kanyang Anak, upang isigaw ang mga katagang: Diyos ko, Diyos ko, bakit mo ako pinabayaan?, upang sa pamamagitan na rin ni Jesus, marinig ang hinaing ng tao! Napagtanto ba natin, na kailangang pabayaan ng Ama si Jesus, upang tayong tao ay huwag niyang pabayaan? (Have you taken time to consider that Jesus was abandoned by the Father so that you might not be?)

Nakikiisa si Jesus sa bawat sigaw ng tao upang humingi ng tulog sa Diyos. Kung kaya nga’t ang sigaw ni Jesus na “Diyos ko, Diyos ko, bakit mo ako pinabayaan?”, ay sigaw na puno ng pananampalataya sa Ama, sigaw ng pag-asa, sigaw na puno ng pagtitiwala sa Diyos! Hindi ba’t ang sigaw na ito ay isang panalangin: “Diyos ko, Diyos ko!”

Sa katunayan ang Salmo 22 ay nagtatapos sa mga salitang: “Mga ginawa mo'y ihahayag ko sa aking mga kababayan, sa gitna ng kapulungan ika'y papupurihan. Kayong lingkod ni Yahweh, siya'y inyong purihin! Kayong lahi ni Jacob, siya'y inyong dakilain, bayan ng Israel, luwalhatiin siya't sambahin! Mga dukha'y di niya pinababayaan at hinahamak, hindi siya umiiwas sa humihingi ng paglingap; sinasagot niya agad ang mga kapus-palad” (Ps. 22:22-24).

Kailanman ay hindi itinatago ng Diyos ang kanyang mukha sa sino mang dumadaing sa Kanya. Kanyang dinirinig ang bawat panaghoy ng mga dukha. Sapagkat, ang mga panaghoy na ito ay siya ring panaghoy ni Jesus. Nakiisa si Jesus sa ating pagkatao.

Kung nakiisa si Jesus sa ating pagkatao, hindi ba nararapat na makiisa rin tayo kay Kristo? Isanib natin an gating sarili kay Kristo, na naunang magpasya na isanib ang kanyang Sarili sa ating pagkatao, upang tayo ay maging katulad niya, na maging mga anak ng Diyos.

Sumigaw na kasama ni Kristo. Pakinggan ang sigaw na kasama ang Diyos! Paano natin ito gagawin? Madali ang sumigaw kasama ni Kristo, sapagkat karaniwan na nating itong ginagawa sa tuwing mga hinanaing sa Diyos sa ating mga panalangin. Ang mahirap ay ang makinig sa hinaing ng iba kasama ang Diyos.

Ang makinig sa hinaing ng mga dukha kasama ang Diyos ay nangangahulugan ng pakikiisa sa kanilang pagkaduhagi, pakikiramdam sa kanilang gutom at paghihikahos. Pagpapakasakit upang ang iba ay maibsan kahit man lamang konti ang paghihirap. Ang tayo’y mamatay sa pagiging makasarili, ang pagtatakwil ng ating sarili, ang magpaubaya ng sarili, upang punuin ang buhay ng iba tulad ng ginawa ni Jesus sa krus. Ang mga halimbawa nito ay: ang mga sakripisyo ng mga magulang sa kanilang mga anak; sakripisyo ng mga anak para sa mga magulang at mga kapatid; ang pagtitimpi na huwag kumain ng masasarap at sa halip ay ibigay sa walang kakain ngayon, ang pagiimpok ng salapi hindi para sa sariling pangangailan kundi para sa mga matitinding pangangailan ng mga kapus-palad, ang unahin ang kapakanan ng iba keysa sa sariling layaw. Ang mamatay ng dahil sa minamahal at sa hindi nagmamahal!

Ang mamatay sa sarili ay ang pagkamatay sa ating pagiging makasalanan. Ayon sa Ebanghelyo: “vAng nag-iingat ng kanyang buhay ay siyang mawawalan nito, at ang nawawalan ng kanyang buhay dahil sa akin ay magkakamit nito"(Mt. 10:39). Kaya’t paalaala ni San Pablo sa taga Roma: “Kaya dapat din ninyong ituring ang inyong sarili bilang patay na sa kasalanan ngunit buhay naman dahil sa Diyos, sapagkat kayo'y nakipag-isa na kay Cristo Jesus.”(Roma 6: 11). Dahil sa binyag, namatay tayong kasama ni Kristo at dinamtan ng pagkatao ni Kristo. Kaya meron na tayong kakayahan na mamuhay tulad ni Kristo sapagkat may buhay na tayo ng pagiging mga anak ng Diyos at kapatid ni Kristo!

Ang pakikipagkaisa kay Kristo ay ang ating pakikipagka-isa sa Kanyang Katawan Mistiko – ang Simbahan, ang Sambayanan. Sa pakikipagkaisang ito ay pakikiisa sa pakikinig sa mga panaghoy, panambitan, mithiin, panaginip, ninaharap na mga pagsubok, mga kinababalisan ng sambayanan. Ang pakikisangkot ni Kristo sa sambayanan ay tunay na pakikisangkot ko!

Isang tao ang minsa’y nanalangin at nagreklamo sa Diyos: “Panginoon ko, bakit wala po kayong ginagawa sa mga sunod-sunod na problema sa mundo? Wala po kayong gagawin sa mga ito? At ang Diyos ay sumagot: “Iyan nga ang dahilan kung ikaw ay nilikha ko!”

“Diyos ko, Diyos ko, bakit mo ako pinabayaan?” Panaghoy ni Jesus sa krus!

“Panginoong Jesus, narito ako! Katuwang mo ako upang pakinggan ang mga panaghoy mo! Amen.”
(To be delivered during the Siete Palabras, Good Friday at St. John the Baptist Parish, Daet, CN)