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Jesus calls his first disciples

It is the second Sunday in Ordinary Time and this Sunday is the start of our Sinulog festivities, which culminates on January 20, Saturday, for the solemn procession and on Sunday for the Sinulog Grand Parade. I have always said that Cebuanos are blessed that the roots of our Christianity were planted here by Ferdinand Magellan's "Armada de Moluccas", whose mission was to look for the spice islands south of the Philippine Archipelago.

But in passing through Cebu the Spaniards baptized King Humabon and Queen Juana as the first Christians in this part of Asia. So you can say that our gospel reading today is a kind of coincidence as it talks about the First Disciples of Jesus, which you can find in John 1:35-42. We Cebuanos are proudly the first Christians in Asia.

35 John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, "What are you seeking?" And they said to him, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?" 39 He said to them, "Come and you will see." So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas" (which means Peter12).


I already pointed out that we Cebuanos are blessed by God because nearly 500 years ago, a group of carracks (not galleons as most historians say) arrived in Cebu with Spanish colonizers who brought with them the statue of the Señor Sto. Niño, which is still with us today and is the reason behind the country's biggest festival. But through the years, Christian doctrine especially on family and life has been threatened by liberals and people who believe that Christianity is passé and belongs to the past.

Indeed, we need to educate our people to read the Bible. Hebrews 13:8, which says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." The problem with most of us is we don't think about how short life is, until we get sick and realize that in the end God is waiting for us. That's if you are one of the lucky ones who can see God face-to-face.

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In today's gospel reading, we heard John the Baptist saw Jesus whom he baptized earlier and told his disciples, "Behold the Lamb of God." Then two of John's disciples followed the Lord and only asked him where he was staying. Apparently when they saw where the Lord was staying that was enough for them to leave their master, John the Baptist, and follow the Messiah.

Today we no longer have John the Baptist with us to tell us to follow the Lord. But we do have the Bible to teach us that Jesus invites us to follow him to a life eternal for which he came to die for our sinfulness. We take comfort from a passage from Matt.11:28-30, "Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

We need the Lord Jesus Christ to live in our midst, unfortunately, most men, as my TV partner Fr. Lucas Inoc said would go with friends to where Satan resides in a life of pleasure and sin and be away from God. It is high time for us to follow our friends who are not ashamed to bring us closer to God who lives their lives in the service of the Lord. After all, life on earth is just too short, while a life with God is eternal life!


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