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Word Alive — Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD

February 26, 2023 / 1st Sunday of Lent, National Migrant Sunday

Photo: D Sharon Pruitt, Wikimedia Commons

There’s a young man who was constantly bedeviled by sensual thoughts. Feeling guilty, he consulted a priest-friend.

“Don’t worry,” the priest assured him, “these thoughts popped out in our minds. They’re not sinful but only enticements.

* * *

But the moment you start entertaining them, they become sinful. Did you entertain them?”

The young man paused, then sheepishly replied: “Well, I didn’t entertain them, Father, but I think they entertained me!”

* * *

Temptations are not just sexual incitements but also injustice, bribery, stealing, backbiting or murder. It’s when we give in that they become immoral.

Everyone is tempted. Even Jesus Christ was tempted but he overcame the devil’s lures as shown in today’s gospel (Mt 4,1-11).

* * *

Once a classroom teacher asked, “Ano ang pangalan ng pinakamalakas na bagyo sa taong ito?” (What’s the strongest typhoon this year?).

Dante raised his hand and replied: “Tukso po.” (Temptation). Astounded, the teacher said: “Bakit tukso?” (Why temptation?).

* * *

Dante, quoting a Tagalog song, said: “Kasi po kay dami ng winasak na tahanan, kay dami ng matang pinaluha at kay dami ng pusong sinugatan” (Because so many temptations devastated homes, many eyes have shed bitter tears, so many hearts have been broken).

* * *

For the record, the culprit that causes enormous damages and sufferings is not temptation (tukso) but sin.

Remember, too: Temptation does not avoid us. It’s we who should avoid temptation. (Dapat ikaw ang lumayo sa tukso).

* * *

A wise man once said: “To pray against temptation but not to avoid the occasion of sin is like putting your hand in the fire and pray that the hand does not get burned.”

Occasions of sin are persons, places, or things that can lead us to sin.

* * *

Today is NATIONAL MIGRANTS’ SUNDAY. It falls on the 1st Sunday of Lent which is timely and fitting because the theme of the gospel is about temptation.

* * *

A serious family problem among Filipino migrants is caused by the long separation of married couples. A spouse working abroad, for instance, can succumb to the temptation of infidelity. The spouse left behind can also fall to the same predicament.

* * *

One wonders if the dollars or euros earned abroad are worth it when one’s family is in shambles. To paraphrase the Lord’s words: “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but suffers the loss of his own family.”

* * *

OFWs AS MISSIONARIES. Some years ago, a cabinet member of the government once related how he met an Italian minister at an international convention in Rome.

“So you are Filipinos!” he greeted. “I have a Filipina helper at home,” he said. As he tried to continue, he noticed the Filipino officials were feeling uneasy, thinking he would report something negative.

* * *

“Signori, please…don’t get me wrong,” he countered. “I’d like to tell you that ever since the helper had started working with us, our house has become very clean and orderly.

Besides, my children now go to church regularly because she brings them, and we the parents have to go to church, too, because our children prod us. I tell you, she has done so much good for our family.”

* * *

The above and similar stories illustrate how our Filipino migrant workers have been a positive influence on the families and parishes where they’re working. For this, they are modern-day missionaries.

* * *

CONGRATULATIONS–on the episcopal ordination of the Most Reverend Pablito Martinez Tagura, SVD, DD as apostolic vicar of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro on February 17. Cardinal Antonio Tagle was the ordaining prelate.

The episcopal installation takes place on February 25 in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro officiated by Most Rev. Charles Brown, DD, apostolic nuncio to the Philippines.

May the Lord God grant Most Reverend Pablito Tagura, SVD,DD, fidelity, love, patience, and servant- leadership in the governance of his flock.

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