December 8, 2023

It has been more than a decade since the late Karen Chinalpan requested prayers for her healing. I was able to fulfill that request – that is to remember her in my prayers. One can just feel the physical pain she was experiencing. She was hoping to get well but on many occasions she felt like giving up. She persevered for more than a decade by praying and through the church’s spiritual and medical intervention. Her life, work, and faith were challenged but she remained strong.
She never showed she was in pain. She will just express hopeful thoughts and positive quotes. Karen had been one of the big supporters of our church activities and Marcsongs concerts.
After half a decade, I was given the chance to celebrate the afternoon mass at Sta. Rita Church on June 18.
I saw Karen in one of the middle pews. She was silent and looked pale. During the Holy Communion, I saw Karen in my queue. She received the Holy Communion piously and returned to her sit for devotion and adoration.
After the mass, I requested the fathers to move to the sanctuary for the blessing and I sang for them.
When everybody left the church, Daphne Moling approached and informed me that Karen fainted at the kiosk along the road.
Fr. Sammie Maximo, the parish priest, attended to her at the Bontoc General Hospital for her anointing. After a few minutes, Karen succumbed to death.
I was informed that Karen went to the church at 3 p.m., sat calmly on one of the benches, and prayed the chaplet of the Divine Mercy before the holy mass at 4:30 p.m.
Karen prepared herself to meet her Savior. She died in grace. This is, so far, one of the best kind of deaths I saw. She died on Father’s Day after receiving Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Holy Anointing.
I grieve but I end grieving because of my conviction that Karen is now with Jesus.
My homily revolved in the gospel quote, “Without cost you have received, without cost you are to give.” (Matthew 10:8)
It was also Father’s Day so I summarized my homily with the acronym F4Rs for The Responsible Father, Reminds, Rectifies, Reconciles.
In the first reading from the Book of Exodus 19: 2-6, God reminded the people of Israel how he saved them. He reminded them too to hear his voice and keep his covenant. He promised them a special place in his possession.
The second reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans underlined God’s faithfulness by sending Jesus to us to rectify our wrongdoings and reconcile us again to the Father.
A priest is supposed to live in poverty, honesty, and humility to fulfill the responsibility of reconciling people to God and to one another and not be a source of unhealthy divisions. This is the calling of Jesus.
“Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” This line reminds priests to focus priestly service and sanctification of life for the salvation of souls.
A priest is ordained to channel spiritual gifts, not to accumulate wealth. He is ordained for the sanctification of people through the administration of the sacraments and witnesses of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
When a priest lives a luxurious life, please remind him that priesthood is a gift. A priest is entrusted a flock to nourish. “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”
Archbishop Marlo Peralta to priests: “A priest should stand in front of the people to lead them with example and at times to stand at the back of the people to allow them to develop their charisms and at other times to stay at the side of the people to accompany them on their journey and at times to stay close to the people to let them feel that they are no stranger. A priest is only a priest if he loves to pray, and accompany it with good works.”
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