Who is Manubo?

Manubo is my contemporary philosopher.  Perhaps not in the class of the world but definitely in mine, he is a true-blooded philosopher.

Having studied Classical Philosophy vis-a-viz Modern Philosophies during my cloistered life, it has opened my horizon to the differing life philosophies.  It’s definitely not my cup of coffee (yes, I’m a coffee guy) but something I had to tackle on as preparation to better understand the depths of Theology.  Some has challenged us to question our existence like Descartes‘ “Cogito ergo sum” (I think therefore I am [exist]) to the modern pragmatism.  Others made us realize that “the more we study, the more we learned of our ignorance“.  Still others taught me to value the power of words in my life.

Well these are men who are long gone but their words — their thoughts remain even today.  But as for the living, I have two (for now at least) whose philosophies touched me and moved my spirit to greater heights: my brother and friend – fr Soy, MB (Missionaries of the Beatitudes) and of course, another brother in spirit – Manubo.

As their words touched me, I’m sharing their philosophies here in “Words that Move“, hoping that they will touch yours too.

 

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My Late Valentine’s Day Thoughts

I’ve posted this Valentine’s Day message in FB (2/14/2016), as part of my “Marriage is Beautiful” reflections.  Now I’m posting it in this blog’s  REFLECTIONS.

Today is the feast day of St. Valentine – a saint with an ambiguous history, but from him sprouted a very popular tradition.

Consumerism has romanticized the celebration, but what Valentine’s is all about is in fact, the “marriage of couples within the Christian church” – where “marriage is sacred between one man and one woman“.  The celebration today is relegated to material things that you can give to a loved one instead of committing yourself to someone in the bond of matrimony blessed by God.

Yes, flowers and chocolates play a part in boosting your loved one’s emotions especially when photos of which are posted in social media’s status and others “LIKE” them.  But they are just frills, “icing to the cake”. The most important thing is renewing this commitment to each other in God’s loving presence and offering prayers for all the couples you know especially those whose marriages are currently facing trials and oppression.  We also offer our prayers for those who have suffered the breakdown of marriage and who are left to assume both responsibilities of a home’s pillar and light, that they may find strength and comfort in the Lord who never forsakes those who put their trust in Him.

Today, Christian family is under attack.  The solemnity of a Christian marriage is now brought down to the grandiose banquet, that without it, a marriage is just optional.  Let us also offer our prayers for those who are living together but have not yet received the sacrament of matrimony, that they may find the true joy of living under the kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ, and building the “Church of the Home”.

To bring back the importance to what Valentine’s Day is all about, our group requested our parish priest to bless our “Marriage vows” renewal.  After the post-Communion prayers, Fr. Migz, the life behind the newly erected parish of Pope St. John XXIII parish, called our group to go in front of the congregation  and invited other married couples to join as well.

Before he proceeded with the “renewal of marriage vows”, he told the congregation especially the youth:

“walang aalis, i-witness nyo na tunay nga na merong ‘FOREVER’.”

It was a short ceremony but a meaningful and a tear-jerker one. While solemnizing the ceremony, in 2 or three occasions, his voice caught for he also remembered his parents who just had their golden wedding anniversary. Like a virus, we were all affected by his emotions.

So today, when seemingly church marriage is an option, we who have been at it for quite a time, will have to testify:

“Truly, Marriage is Beautiful!”

May the good Lord bless you and your family.

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CHRISTMAS IN THE PHILLIPPINES – the longest in the world.

As I entered the mall yesterday, I was reminded “Ber months” na naman pala. You now hear Christmas carols played all-over the mall. If I would refer back to the church calendar, Christmas celebration or the preparation for Christmas starts with Advent which will be on November 27 this year. And across the world, it is only in the Philippines that September 1 becomes the “official” start of Christmas season.

Why this early? Who made it official?

You will get no argument with me, even if Christmas is celebrated the whole year round, i.e., if the real essence of Christmas is the reason for the celebration – the spirit of giving, the spirit of loving.  Sadly, it may be the consequence of the action of some but for most, it is not the primary reason for this celebration’s early start.  As I view it, the early celebration was the result of marketing and commercialism.  If you will notice, every month is now given a label – “month for so and so” and “month for that …”.  We used to have only 4 countrywide celebrations: Christmas, which extends to New Year; Valentine’s Day, Graduation and Halloween.  But today, aside from these usual celebrations, we now have “Mother’s Day”, “Father’s Day”, “Grandparents’ Day”, “Teacher’s Day”, etc.  What else? Probably, next they will come up with “Pet’s Day”, or is it already declared and practiced?

There is nothing wrong with honoring the people who are important to us.  In fact, it is a very noble act.  What is not though, is the commercialization of the action of honoring.  When Christmas is more experienced because of the various “SALE” and parties to attend to, rather than the deeper meaning of being able to give a part of ourselves.  Another product also take this month of September as a starting period for “Oktober-Fest”, a “commercially-created” festivity of seemingly unlimited drinking and partying that is supposedly intended for October as its name implies, but starts a month earlier. These festivities and celebrations are so varied and many that they are only limited by the imagination and creativity of the advertisers – these are what the world is offering us.

Each of these activities only encourage us to indulge, to buy, to spend our hard-earned money. Gone are the days, when gifts are made by hand – with love.  Most of everything now is purchased, wrapped and given.  Everything is instant.  Even messages are “templated”; the absence of the personal touch now replaced by the “beauty” of commercialism.

Yesterday, Christmas was far from my mind as I marked September 1 as the start of our 54-day journey of prayer.  Remembering that September is Mama Mary’s birth month and October is the Holy Rosary month – offering her our “bouquet of prayers”and  asking her intercession for our general and specific intentions: for the protection of the family and the sanctity of marriage; for the protection of life – both human and this world’s; for enlightenment and peace of heart brought about by contentment and the spirit of sharing  and giving – the essence of a real Christmas.

What the world offers are just mere distractions, billboards along the road as we journey towards HOME.  Personally, I welcome them as personal reminders that every month, a special person is to be given honor, and so we give them honor not with what this world has to offer, but with love, with care and prayers.  We are again reminded that this Christmas, what is important is the company of family and the happiness and joy that spring from it are shared with those who have none – Yeng Constantino’s “Pasko sa Pinas” says it:

Ang kaligayahan nati’y walang kupas
Di alintana kung walang pera
Basta’t tayo’y magkakasama
Ibang-ibang talaga ang pasko sa Pinas

The world only showed us the Christmas season as a reason for uncontrolled spending, an opportunity to profit.  But as Christians, we are reminded of the two Christmases of our lives, when God made true His promise in John 3:16 – a Christmas when the Lord Jesus came to live with humankind, and a Christmas when He vanquished death and sin in Easter.  As “a child of Easter morn”, I will always be reminded of these Christmases as I journey through life.

I’ve read from one FB post among many that clutter my news feed on the importance of the Holy Communion (I’m not sure if it was Blessed Teresa of Calcutta who said it), but adopting it, may I be reminded to live each day as if it is my first day, my last day and my only day to do my act of charity.  It is for me the real essence of a daily Christmas celebration of joy!

To end, this timeless song from long ago by another legend will clearly remind us of our reason for being:

I’ll give my hand, I’ll sing my song,
I’ll share my faith, because I know,
That the time is now to fulfill each vow,
For I may never pass this way again!

May your day be blessed that you may be a blessing to others.

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Homosexuality and Single Blessedness

Today, Manny Pacquiao dominates both traditional and social media, when he earned the ire of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Trans-gender) community because of what he said relative to his stand on same-sex marriage.

Well, I salute MP for affirming his stand even if by doing-so, he will lose the votes of the LGBT community and more so for his honesty and humility in asking for public apology after realizing that he had hurt their feelings.  I understand the hurt he may have unintentionally caused since as it is, the LGBT already felt that they are being discriminated hence, they are quite a sensitive lot.  But in my heart, I know that MP did not mean ill of the people but just the act.  Besides, in a country of many and varied dialects we use this kind of comparison.  We hear jeepney drivers say: “ayan na naman ang mga buwaya”, or among best friends who became enemies “ahas” and even among the LGBT community, you can hear them say among themselves “hitad” with not so much a fuss.  Added to that are the differences of meanings of the same phrase in the different regions or class group.  What Ilocanos consider as vegetables, Tagalogs find as vulgar; what Cebuanos consider as crass terms/words, Ilonggos find as normal.   Even how we pronounce may mean differently to different people.  When a person from Luzon says “Bu-tu-an” instead of “But-wan” to refer to a place in Mindanao, it means differently to Visayans or Mindanaons who would think of the person’s sexual assets.  My brother-in-the-seminary Joe Marie has aptly stated in his FB post. To quote him:

Filipino expressions can be confusing and, when used improperly, the outcome can be devastating. When we detest [emphasis is mine] someone we say “MAS MASAHOL PA SA HAYOP.” But when we admire someone we say “HAYOP ANG DATING.

In my thoughts though, I would say MP did not detest the LGBT community or anybody for that matter when he said it. It was said more as a comparison which we normally do, when we are lost for the exact words. Hence, we have Metaphors and the other figures of speech.

Let us look at this phrase “mas masahol pa sa hayop.”  Going back to Biology, man is classified under the animal kingdom like the “hayop” in this instance.  From birth we came with limitations.  Animals go by their instinct – it is their limitation, and it is by this instinct that they follow the laws of nature.  It is precisely the reason why they can’t go wrong in their choice of a mate.  On the other hand, religion taught us that we are above all the animals because aside from our natural instincts, we were given by our Creator REASON (intelligence, wisdom and most of all – the FREE WILL, a gift to choose with full knowledge of our options whether good or evil).  By natural and more important, the Divine design, our tendency would have led us to strive for a higher level.  Even game apps are designed with progression in mind.  But while we are limited, it is because of this free will that we decide for ourselves to go beyond our limitations.  Unfortunately though, while natural laws go for progression, most of the time we tend to go against or regress from the laws and order of nature and the Divine design – the product of our rebellious selves.  Considering, that we are above the rest in our class, i.e., the animal kingdom because of this gift of reason, still man tends to act and go even lower than the lowest creature in this same class, thus the phrase: “mas masahol pa sa hayop”.

Going back to the main subject that caused this uproar, i.e., MP’s stand on same-sex marriage, which affects the LGBT community.  Does it really follow that when you talk about homosexuality, what follows is the issue of same-sex marriage?  While they are two different issues, many will say they are related.  The LGBT’s ire was not brought about by MP’s stand on the issue of “same-sex marriage” but on his use of words when he tried explaining his stand on the issue.

Many a times last year, I thought of writing about homosexuality but in writing this I am specifically referring to the homosexuals relative to lesbians and gays and not the whole lot of the LGBT community.  What’s the difference? Homosexuality may be brought about by unnatural hormonal imbalance, although now most are due to surrounding influences. On the other hand, being a bi-sexual or a trans-gender is a preference that clearly demand reason and decision, in which case, free will is clearly at play. For some, the term “gay” is applied to both men and women but for clarity, I am referring to gays for men, and lesbians for women, or homosexuals to refer to both.

I have nothing against homosexuals.  In fact, I have gay and lesbian friends and even relatives.  Although it was not the case when I was growing up, since I also had biases brought about by the ignorance of youth.

As a person, homosexuals (at least those I know) are very considerate and responsible.  My gay classmates from high school were very dependable and resourceful.  They are also very creative.  When you are in need, they are there and if it is out of their immediate capacity they look for other ways to help.  Well, homosexuals [tend] to be attracted to the same sex. But again it may just be tendencies, and tendencies can be curbed; preferences can be changed.  On introspection, it may not necessarily be true that they want to be with the person of the same sexuality, but rather they may be attracted to the strength of character or absence thereof that the other person exudes.  In fact, we already heard about gay-lesbian wedding and it is accepted by the church.  In one conference of the Couples for Christ (CFC) I’ve attended, I heard the sharing of a known homosexual, known because he was a celebrity.  He had prayed for enlightenment and guidance.  He surrendered himself to the Lord’s will and is now a happily married and a family man.  And in an interview last year, he reiterated that he never regretted his decision and he was thankful to the Lord for the gift of his family.  So like any tendencies, as creature of reason, we can curb them and channel the same tendencies to a better union.

Again our church leaders tell us to condemn the sin and not the sinner.  We condemn active homosexuality, in the same way we condemn adultery and promiscuity because as Catholic Christians, we believe they are sins and like any other sin, cut us from the source of life.  But does knowing people who are active homosexuals or those who flaunt their adulterous life as if it is proof of their manhood give us the right to judge?  All of us are sinners; we are not saints although we strive to become saints, and one of the things we need to achieve sainthood is learning to love the sinner but at the same time condemning the sinful act.  Many times in our lives we fall and succumb to sin – to the impurities sown by our enemy whether you are “straight” or not.  We sin with our thoughts, our words and most with our actions; and in our judgment of others – we sin.

“He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)

Yes, I said in my youth, I was biased with homosexuals.  I never thought then that I can accept homosexuals in our family.  But then again, we had a priest in our clan who tended to be feminine in his actions and voice but lived a pious life as a servant of the Lord.  I had a cousin who was gay but was the family’s bread-winner.  Both of them are remembered not because of their effeminacy but how they touched the people they come in contact with.

Did these experiences made me change my views of homosexuals?  Yes, indeed, but on the issue of same-sex marriage as a right, from which all this talk sprung forth, I would still follow what my conscience say guided by the teachings of my church.  Nowadays, “equal rights for all” is a common shout out and may be a platform of change for our politicians especially as we near our national elections.  But the question in my mind, is it really a birthright or is just now becoming a “right” because society calls for it?  Its legality is relative depending on the people passing the laws of the land and the pressures of society.  When passed it will become legal, but is it morally right?  When faced with this dilemma, I use this as my guiding principle: “if it does not follow the Divine and natural laws, then it can never be moral.“

So today, when asked “what if my daughter/niece is a lesbian or my son/nephew a gay, will I accept them?” The answer will be a definite “YES”.  But “will I condone if they go into active homosexuality”, it will still be a big “NO”.  I will have the compassion to understand them, but I will be praying deeply for their enlightenment and guidance that they may heed the call of single-blessedness instead; or praying that like my gay brother in CFC, they will have a family of their own – a happy and a Christ-centered family.

During this season of Lent, we are encouraged to abstain and fast or simply said: “curb your temporal desires so that you can commune with God”.  As I reflect on this, I feel that homosexuals are very blessed.  When they consider living their lives according to the laws of nature, they may realize that they are given by the Lord the opportunity to serve Him more, coming into union not with a person of the same sex but with Him through single-blessedness.

Tendencies can be curbed, preferences can be changed.  This season of Lent, may we be enlightened to go for the Divine.  May the Lord God bless us all!

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Facing my Goliath

You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of hosts… All this multitude, shall learn that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves. (1 Sam 17:45, 47)

Maraming beses na nating narinig na “man’s ways are different from God’s”.  Bago humarap kay Goliath pinasuot ni Haring Saul ang kanyang kalasag, helmet at espada kay David (1 Sam 17:38), ngunit ang mga ito’y naging hadlang lamang sa kanyang pagkilos.  Sa huli, ang talentong kaloob sa kanya ng Diyos at ang kanyang pananampalataya ang kanyang naging lakas.
Kahit ang ating Panginoong Hesus ay meron ding “Goliath”.   Sa kanilang paglilibot, ilang beses siyang tinanong ng kanyang mga taga-sunod kung pupunta na sila sa Herusalem, ngunit ilang beses din nilang ipinagpaliban.   Jerusalem was Jesus’ Goliath.  Alam ni Hesus ang hirap na daranasin Niya sa Herusalem.  Kahit si Hesus ay humiling sa Ama na alisin ang Kanyang hinaharap na paghihirap:
My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.”
Kadalasan mas gusto nating iwasan ang ating mga “Goliath” kesa harapin eto. Ang ating “Goliath” ay ang isa sa mga humahadlang sa ating pagkilala at pagsilbi sa Panginoon.
Tingnan natin ang ating mga sarili at tanungin, “sino (o ano) ba ang aking ‘Goliath’”?  Knowing the problem is just the first step towards a solution.
Ang “Goliath” mo ba ay ang bisyong hanggang ngayon ay hindi mo maiwanan? Paglalasing o sobrang pag-inom, pagsusugal, pagsigarilyo o kahit ang mga bawal na relasyon? Ito ba ang iyong asawa, kamag-anak, kaibigan – mga nagiging “hadlang” upang magampanan mo ang paglilingkod mo sa Ama?
Ito ba ay ang iyong mga pagkakautang? Being in debt is a sin – it is sinful to remain in debt.

”Owe nothing to anyone, except to love another” (Rom 13:8).

By dying on the cross, Jesus has already paid for our debts; hence, there is no reason that we remain indebted to anybody.
In money matters, the first step to clear our debt is to pay everyone whom we have cheated in the past – as in the case of Zacchaeus.
Kung ikaw ang nagpautang sa iyong kapatid – kalimutan mo upang ito’y hindi magdulot ng kaguluhan sa iyong isip, ngunit kung ikaw ang nagkautang, alalahanin mo hanggang sa ito’y iyong mabayaran ng buo. Sa mga pagkakataong may mga pagkakautang tayong hindi na natin kayang mabayaran gustuhin man natin gaya ng pagkamatay na ng ating pinagkautangan, o kung sa anupamang kadahilanan; bayaran natin sa pamamagitan ng kawang-gawa. God sees our willingness (2 Cor 8:11-12) to make restitution when we are able by donating to charity. But we must never have money with us that do not rightfully belong to us – mga kita o pera na galing sa masama. Greed or covetousness must never be a driving force in any of our endeavors. (Eph 5:5)
Let’s do our best to avoid getting into debt in the future; just like we avoid sinning.  Let’s not buy anything that is beyond our means, ever; nor buy anything just to show off to others; never buy anything even if we can afford it if we don’t need it – that is an unnecessary luxury.
Borrow only during an emergency – don’t take a huge amount that you will be pressured for many years.  On the other hand, it is also our responsibility to help our brethren in great need, with little additional cost or even at no cost at all, especially if we have the resources.  The Spirit will lead us to discern such things.
Credit card debt should be avoided totally.  While credit cards may seem convenient, use it sparingly, knowing that you can always cover for the amount due.  Overdue amount will be the start of your fall in a seemingly inescapable abyss.  Let’s learn from the ways of the ants – working hard for the summer to save for winter.
Binabayaran ba natin ng tama ang mga taong nagtatrabaho sa atin? (James 5:4).  Binabayaran ba natin ng tama ang ating mga buwis? (Rom 13: 7)  O ang ating mga association dues?  Higit sa lahat, ibinibigay ba natin ang ating “tithes” (Mal 3:8) o kung anumang halaga (2Cor 9:7-8) na itinalaga natin para sa Pangioon?
Kung ang ating sariling lakas lamang ang ating asahan, hindi natin kayang gapiin ang ating “Goliath”.  We need the strength from the anointing of the Spirit, as David had relied on his faith in the Lord.  Most of these we failed to overcome because we failed to grasp our real value in the eyes of God.
Above all these – our pains, our hardships and trials; our failures and success, our strengths and weaknesses; as a famous song from the Christian group Hillsong runs, “even as Jesus took the fall, He thought of us” -– that is our real worth.
— my reflection is based on the Lenten Recollection with Bro. Raffy Blasco (our Provincial Area Head) as speaker, IIRR 3/24/2013.
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The Lord’s Transfiguration

This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” (Mt 17: 5b NASB)

The Transfiguration of JesusImage

The Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ is one of the scenes in the Bible that I keep going back every time I am praising in tongues.  What a wonderful scene, and I imagine myself with Peter, James and John, witnessing as the Lord is transfigured but not cowering in fear but in awe of His majesty.

The transfiguration came at a time before the Lord entered Jerusalem — to His painful suffering and death.  It was meant to prepare the three apostles, that as they have glimpsed the glory and majesty of the Lord, they will remain steadfast in their faith when the Lord will suffer the pain of death.

It was also a strengthening for the Lord, who even as God is also a man with his fears of suffering the kind of death meant for him (remember His prayers at Gethsemane: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Mt 26:39).  The affirmation of the Father to a Son who is about to enter the biggest crisis of His life, will have been a source of strength for our Lord Jesus.

As I reflect on this, I thought of my fatherhood to my children.  I was a believer of “reverse psychology” and I was also a critic, almost to a point of being a perfectionist (I still am, a bit, but only in what I do), not realizing what negative remarks can do to a child’s psychology.

It was only when I attended the ABBA Father’s Weekend conducted by the CFC Servants of the Lord that I fully realized the magnitude of my failure as a father – the “verbal abuse” of a negative and irresponsible remark, the psychological beatings that they have borne because they have not reached the standards I’ve set and many more.  While I thought that by criticizing my children for their failures, it will make them stronger; and it will teach them their lessons — the opposite was actually happening.  Even worse, they turned inwards, kept their pains and hurts deep in their psyche.

A father’s affirmation of the son when he has achieved something is an honoring — it is done with great pride.  But the father’s affirmation of the son in the time of his failure, is a source of strength for the son.  I am glad that the realization came when communication was not yet totally lost.  I am not a perfect father, and still far from being perfect but as our servant leader (Jun P) shared with us quoting a script of JLC in a Filipino movie “A Very Special Love” (2008): “… I am a work in progress.

As we continue to build the church of God in our homes, let us be a fountain of strength for our children; a forefront leader who leads by example and not merely a commander who orders from the back; a servant not like our public servants who clamor to be served but a true servant like our Lord Jesus.

May the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus culminates in our own transfiguration as we share with Him God’s glory.  May you be blessed!

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For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be (NAB Lk 12:34).

Does God hate rich people?  Jesus said,

“it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle”

In last Sunday’s Gospel, the Lord told us about the rich fool (Lk 12:13-21) and St. Paul reminded us in Col 3:2 to turn our hearts on to the heavenly things.

This does not explicitly mean that the rich man is doomed.  In many instances the scriptures showed us how God prospered His people.  He prospered Abraham and Joseph.  He prospered David and Solomon; and Job who remained steadfast in his faith amid all the miseries that befell him, the Lord doubled what he had lost.

In fact, the Lord wants His people to prosper because the wealth of this world in the hands of His people can be used to further His kingdom on earth; it is only then that wealth is used to uplift others.

What is sinful then is GREED – the love and attachment  for things of the earth than the love for people; when we start loving money and using people instead of using money and loving people.  Wikipedia defines greed as:

“inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one needs.”

Relating to this story, the “rich and the camel passing through the eye of the needle” comes to my mind.  Once, when we took this up in one term of Sacred Scriptures, our instructor told us about the “eye of the needle” as a small gate in the walls of Jerusalem that is used during ordinary days.  I would relate it today to a “Judas’ Gate“, the smaller door in the bigger double-door gate, which is used by people without the inconvenience of opening the much bigger and heavier doors.

Supposedly, the “eye of the needle” only allowed people to pass through.  The bigger gate of Jerusalem is only opened during Sabbath and on feast days.  During ordinary days, a camel may be able to pass through this  gate kneeling down and without the burden of its baggage.  Searching google (again) for “eye of the needle” [specifically for this re-post], I came upon this picture and article by Fr. Ed which will make it easier for us to understand what an “eye of the needle” is as Jesus related in the parable.  It’s pretty the same as we were taught, but this is just expanded as mine is a shorter explanation.

Eye of the Needle

According to our instructor, the “rich” man [emphasis is mine] can only enter the kingdom of heaven if he divests himself from all attachments to material things and only with a repentant and humble heart.  I emphasized rich because riches may not be limited to money or materials possessions, they can be power, or fame or even another person which we idolize (made as god), that which we feel as the same or even more important than God .

So we start building our relationships with people by using our “T’s” (our talent, time and treasure) to bring our brethren to a better understanding of God’s goodness — that of SHARING.   When we learn to share with the least of our brethren then truly this world would be Heaven on earth.

» Notes, Links and References Summary
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