MANILA, FEBRUARY 11, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Fr. Jerry M. Orbos SVD - The story is told about a father and son on their first camping trip together. The two could not sleep because of mosquitoes. The father said: “Don’t worry, I know how to handle this. Let’s put off the lights so they won’t see us.” Soon after, the fireflies started to appear in the dark, and the son said: “Dad, they’re back, with their flashlights on!”

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(FEBRUARY 9) In today’s Gospel (Lk. 5,1-11) Jesus called simple fishermen to become fishers of men. From simple mosquitoes to mosquitoes with flashlights on! As it were, the call of God is not reserved to those who are worthy or qualified. Indeed, God calls and uses not so much the worthy instrument but the willing instrument.

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Feb. 14 is Valentine’s Day to remind us about the heart, and matters of the heart. God’s call is definitely a matter of the heart. God calls us not to become His mercenaries, but His missionaries. God calls us to become a someone to Him and to His people and not so much to become a somebody laden with all sorts of titles, decorations and functions.

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Sometime ago, I was distracted during Mass by a guitarist of the choir who, all throughout the Mass, kept on turning the pages of the Mass songbook, and kept on practicing the chords of the Mass songs.

Here he was so focused on his function, but paying no attention to the Lord he was serving. At first, I was irritated, even disgusted. But soon after, I realized that the Lord was telling me through that moment that many times, I focus on my work for God, and forget the God I work for.

Service without the heart is, and easily can become, self-service.

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At another time, a fellow priest told me how shocked and disgusted he was when he saw a man secretly reading the newspaper during a Sunday Mass! Here he was coming to worship, but his heart was more focused on the news and current events. Prayer is supposed to be a meeting of hearts, but often, we come before the Lord just to fulfill our “obligation,” or present our petitions—but without love and devotion.

Worship without the heart is, and can easily become, self-worship.

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How about those who continually engage in text messaging during prayers and Mass? Yes, we have ways of somehow connecting with people when we are supposed to be connecting only with our God in precious and in the few moments allotted to Him. Remember, the most important presence is that of the Lord when we do our worship. Full attention, full devotion with our hearts are what the Lord asks of us in worship, otherwise, we fall into the subtle sin of self-worship.

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Where is your heart?

Maybe you are present, maybe you work hard, or maybe you even pray much, but the bottom line is: Where is your heart?

Discipleship is not so much a matter of quantity but of quality. We are not just employees, nor are we just plain workers. We are listening disciples with a Master.

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How often have I encountered a speeding jeepney changing lanes, crisscrossing, making sudden stops unmindful of the convenience and safety of the passengers who were filled with fear and clinging on to dear life! Such public utility vehicle drivers should be warned, if not banished from our streets!

Our so-called public servants for that matter should be reminded to serve our people with the heart and not with the “art” of politics that specializes in stealing, cheating, manipulating and perpetuating the corrupt in power.

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“Faith and Struggle on Smokey Mountain: Hope for a Planet in Peril,” a reflection on 30 years of service as a Divine Word Missionary in a “garbage dump community” by Fr. Ben Beltran, SVD, will be launched on Feb. 13, 2013, (Ash Wednesday) at 3 p.m. in Sacred Heart Parish, Kamuning, Quezon City.

The book deals with pastoral issues like preferential option for the poor, prophetic dialogue with the oppressed, inculturation, community-building and contemplation in a world of action. For inquiries, please call (02) 929-0419; (02) 415-4354; or email sacred-kamuning@yahoo.com

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The day before Valentine’s Day this year is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten Season. It is a very timely reminder for all of us to look into our hearts and ask the Lord to bless all the people in our hearts, to cleanse us of our sinful hearts, to alleviate the burdens of our hearts, and to heal and revive whatever love has died in our hearts.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! A blessed Lenten Season everyone! And Happy Lunar New Year!

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Here’s a beautiful prayer I received and I will share with you: In tough times, Lord, let me stay motivated and calm. Let me look at how far I have come, rather than how far I still have to go. Let me continue counting my blessings, not what I have been missing. May every day bring new chances to grow, new beautiful things to see, new plans to do, and new goals to pursue. Every new day is God’s miracle day. Amen.

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, help me not to lose my heart, and not to lose heart. Amen.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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