God’s Touch

Posted: February 14, 2018 in homilies

6th Sunday of Ordinary Time B

Since Valentine’s Day is coming, I remember a story of an older couple that has been imagesmarried for a long time. One day, they went together to go to confession. The wife went first and upon receiving her penance and absolution, she reminded the priest that her husband is going next. She asked the priest to be patient with him because he is hard of hearing, “almost deaf” she described. And when the husband came for confession, the priest was surprised that he was not deaf at all! His hearing was perfectly normal. So after his confession, he asked him why he faked his deafness. With a smile, he said, “For peace Father, for peace.”

In our Gospel today, we heard of a leper who became deaf to the disgust and objection of the crowd as he knelt before Jesus. As our first reading suggests, lepers then were outcasts and were not allowed to approach people. Defying all rules and traditions, all he could hear was the voice of faith within him. The voice that told him he could get well and be cleansed by Jesus. In our life today, “Are we like the leper who listens to the voice of faith within us? Do we still listen to that little voice in our hearts or do we prefer to listen instead to other voices around us? There are a lot of voices out there telling us what to do and how to live our life. Most are very enticing for they offer life’s pleasure, happiness and conveniences. There is nothing wrong about enjoying life conveniences but if they are leading us away from the path that God sets for us, we are setting ourselves to be estranged from God. So sometimes we just have to be on our “selective hearing” mode. We can’t possibly listen to everything and to everyone. In the end, it is best to listen to our conscience and be guided accordingly.

That voice today is telling us that we are loved whoever we are and whatever we have done. God doesn’t reject anybody who comes to Him.  Now, as then, Jesus’ touch gives us hope where we don’t see any hope in our lives.  Jesus restores people to fellowship with one another and to God.

The Good News of our Gospel today is that our situations, whatever they are, are not hopeless.  We have to always remember that God loves us just the way we are and not the way we think we ought to be.  He loves us not because we are ‘good’ but because we’re not good.  God loves us not because of what we can ‘do’ for Him but because we can’t do anything to earn His love.  God loves us because He is good and He wants to share His love and goodness with us.  And His love is absolutely unconditional-not the kind of love that says, “I will love you if…” or “I will love you when….” As the singer Billy Joel puts it, “I love you just the way you are….”

For this love of God to bear fruit in our lives, we need however to do what the leper did.  He recognized the hopelessness of his situation and came to Jesus for help.  And, so must we.  Unfortunately, there are far too many people today who have a great difficulty recognizing the things in their lives that cry out for Jesus’ healing touch-for His forgiveness.  There are a lot of people in denial about their situations and have worn masks to cover up for their sins and wounds. I hope that we are not this kind of people. I hope that we are the kind of people who longs to be touched and healed by God, accepting our own shortcomings and limitations, believing in His healing love and mercy in our lives.

If we are willing to humble ourselves and come to Jesus as the leper did, we too will experience His healing touch.  All we have to do is come because Jesus is just waiting for us all the time. And, if we think about it and if we are honest about ourselves, all of us are suffering of some kind of leprosy in our lives. Not probably the leprosy described in our readings but probably a personal or spiritual kind of leprosy.  Our kind of leprosy might be being judgmental towards others. It might be that we are hard-hearted or mean person. Or we lie and are unforgiving towards others. Maybe we’ve become a negative person, full of hate and anger in our heart. Or we start to we doubt in God and in ourselves.  These kinds of things can slowly eat away the goodness in us just as leprosy does to the body if not treated and deal with immediately.

So the question is, “Do we want to be cured”?  Do we want Jesus to touch us? All we have to do is go to Him.  One of the hardest things to do in life is to humble ourselves and admit our shortcomings.  By taking off our masks and acknowledging our limitations, Jesus can change our life for the better.  All we have to do is admit our needs and come to Him. His compassion and love for us will do the rest. The Lord heals the broken-hearted regardless of whatever type of leprosy we have. As we come to the doorstep of the Season of Lent with Ash Wednesday this week, it is good to be reminded of God’s healing touch in our lives. Let us be mindful of His love. Let us be aware of his mercy. Let us be welcoming to his grace. Amen.



Posted: February 14, 2018 in homilies

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time B

A few days ago, I tried cooking a dish that my mother used to cook for us at home. While blog-nov-2016-headerimgpreparing for it, I started to tear up and cry – not because I miss my mom so much, but because I haven’t discovered yet the art of slicing onions without crying. Anyone here knows how to slice onions without tearing up? Can you teach me? (Is it like this…)

I was reminded of this while reflecting on our scripture readings today. There’s a French proverb that says, “Life is an onion and one peels it crying.” I think there’s a certain truth to that in the sense that crying or shedding tears is very much a part of our life. People are born crying – I mean, the very first act that a baby does is to cry as soon as he or she is born. If we are going to be totally honest with ourselves, all of us have something to complain or cry about in our lives. Life here on earth is full of challenges and I think that is the reason why some people call this world a “valley of tears.”

In our first reading, Job attests to this reality. Stricken with misfortune and covered all over with sores, Job was crying as he said, “Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?” In our Gospel, Jesus was greeted in Capernaum by people with all sorts of health problems – including those who were suffering from demonic possessions. They were all crying for help. And Jesus attended to all of them. He eased their pain and sorrow. He comforted them, healed them and raised them up.

And this is where our hope and comfort come from – our God is always there to take care of us. Our God never stopped easing our pain and suffering. His healings and his miracles showed us that He truly cares. He has come to his people to bring them relief and comfort. Jesus showed that in our Gospel today. All these amazing things happened in the town of Capernaum. Capernaum comes from the Hebrew words, “Kapar” which means village and “Nahum” which means comfort. KaparNahum means a village of comfort. It is for this reason that Jesus has made Capernaum his base of operations, his ministry headquarters if you will, to show and manifest to all people that he came to save us, to bring us peace and comfort.


In our every day life however, we always have a tendency to think that God has abandoned us when we undergo suffering and great challenges in our lives. We feel that He is not there for us; that He has forgotten us. We become frustrated, questioning and even angry at Him. This is somehow what happened to Job at first. Just as his experience and story show us: he suffered tremendously and was on the verge of hopelessness and despair when God came to His rescue. He cried, he complained, but never lost hope. God listened to his prayer. God has always been with Him all along. He suffered with Him. He cried with Him and in the end, He healed and blessed him. And so in our own experience of challenges and suffering, we are reminded that we are not on our own, that we are never abandoned. God is always there for us.

Now, the challenge is for us to be always reminded of the Lord’s daily presence in our life especially during times of trials and hardships. But how do we do that? How do we remind ourselves of God’s presence? Jesus gave us an example to follow. We heard in the gospel, “Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.” To appreciate how important this line is, we have to understand how life must have been for Jesus during that time. We say that our life is difficult, full of challenges and difficulties. It must have been the same for Jesus. Day in and day out, He faced people with all sorts of afflictions. Those who are in need demanded his presence and He never said no to any of them. He almost always did not have time to eat and sleep and yet He never complained. He did not get burnt-out. What was His secret? He prayed. Through His constant communications with His Father, Jesus received the strength to continue His very demanding ministry even in the midst of challenges and difficulties. If Jesus felt the need to pray, how much more are we?

I received a text from a priest friend of mine inquiring how am I doing. I told him, “Oh, I’m busy here in the parish, trying to catch up with a lot of things do”. He texted me back this, “what good it is for us to save the world but loss our soul in the process.” This is rightly so, not just for me but for every one of us. We are busy in our lives, in our work, in our families and many other things. We live in a very competitive world full of expectations and responsibilities. It requires a lot of us and we give a lot to it. But just as that text tells us, “what good it is for us to gain/save the whole world and loss our soul in the process.” And so today, we are reminded to find our soul and to strengthen it, to reinvigorate it with prayer and time of reflection. Just like Jesus, let us make our spiritual life as the main source of strength for our actions and life. That is how we are reminded God’s presence in our lives – by our constant communication with Him through the ups and downs of life. From Jesus we learn that we must pray not only in our community, but also in secret, alone with God. We must pray not only when it is convenient but also when it is not. Prayer is truly a way to remind ourselves that God is always there with us.

And so today, we pray together as one community and as individuals, offering him all our joys and sorrows, all our blessings and challenges, knowing that God is always there for us no matter what to love us and bring us comfort. So to Him we all say, Amen! (Which means I believe!).



Posted: February 14, 2018 in homilies

4th Sunday of Ordinary Time Bb (modified)

If you can recall, last Christmas eve, we have some snow. I received a few text and calls Unknownfrom some parishioners that they were stuck in their houses and they couldn’t come for the Christmas masses. They were greatly disappointed that they couldn’t come in one of the most important celebrations in our church. That Christmas snow affected us in one way or another. It affected our numbers here at the Church for sure. I remember even last year during this time of the year, we also had that huge snowstorm that disrupted our schedules and our activities for days. It’s mind blowing to see how powerless we can be during these circumstances. This force of nature limits and confines us of do the things we can do. We are somehow rendered powerless before it.

This is probably what the man in today’s gospel feel of having an unclean spirit in his life. We can just imagine how his life must have been like, to have this demon within him, ruling his life, destroying everything that he holds dear. Maybe he tried to fight it off but to no avail. Maybe each morning he thought that day would be different but it wasn’t. The demon’s power was too great for him. It controlled him and his actions. And then, one day when he came to the synagogue, he met Jesus. Knowing his struggles, Jesus told the demon in him, “Quiet! Come out of him.” And he was set free. He was healed.

Just like this man in the gospel, there are a lot of forces also in our life that control us. It could be some forces inside of us or outside of us. Sometimes we think that if we just have better opportunities or we have the right motivations, we can overcome them and live our lives free of anxieties and hardships. But somehow they continue to challenge us and test our resolve despite our best efforts. So we ask, what are these forces in our lives that control us and prevent us from becoming the best person we can be? What are the things that hinder us to become the best father or mother or husband or wife in our family? What stops us to become good children or good people in our society? It could be our selfishness or pride that prevent us from becoming the best person we can be. It could be our impatience or irresponsibility that hinder us from becoming the best parents to our children. It could be our immaturity or prejudice that stops us from becoming good children and people in our family and community. Whatever they may be, these are the worldly forces that can control our lives. These are the powers that could destroy our life and rob us of the freedom, dignity and purpose that God has for us. They are like snowstorm out of control. We seem to be at their mercy. It confines and limits us to be the best persons we can be. But we must not be discouraged and loss hope because, there will come a moment or moments in our lives when the sun starts to shine. The storm is over and the snow that paralyzed us, that confines us, that kept us in stuck in the dark, begins to melt. That is what the power and presence of Christ can do in our lives. Just as the snow gives way to the strength of the sun, so are the powers that seem to dominate us can diminish before the power of the risen Christ. Jesus can do for us what He did for the man in the gospel that afternoon in the synagogue. Jesus spoke with authority beyond self-help books and feels right words. He spoke with the authority of God that can truly heal us, that can truly free us, that can truly make us whole.

There are a lot of things around us, worldly and secular things, that promise us freedom and escape from pain and hardships in our life. But oftentimes they, themselves, make us slaves towards them. The power and authority of Jesus Christ is the only power on earth that doesn’t dominate us but really set us free. Jesus Christ is the only one who can truly help us overcome the challenges in our lives. He will walk with us. He will cry with us. He will persevere with us.

That afternoon in the synagogue, Jesus freed a man from a demon that controlled his life. This gives us great hope in our lives because whatever demons we have in our life, the demons of our past, the demons in our present, what Jesus did for that man in the synagogue, He can also do with us. Let us therefore recognize who is before us today, Jesus, the one who seeks to liberate us in our lives, to make us faithful and whole. Let us welcome him every time he knocks into our hearts because in him, we can find the true freedom and peace in our lives. Amen.



Posted: December 10, 2017 in homilies
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2nd Sunday of Advent Bb

While reflecting on our readings today, I was reminded of the changes that we imagesexperience every now and then in our lives. These changes sometimes can be challenging, but sometimes it too can be exciting. Moving to a new place for example – it could be very exciting, but it also could be very stressful. I remember when I was first assigned here at Holy Family. I was excited and thrilled to have a new assignment. I was looking forward for the new experience, the new community, and the new opportunities for me. But somehow, I was worried too. How would the parishioners accept me as their new parish priest? How would the transition look like? I had been living in Bandon for two years so I was already accustomed to my life there. I had my own routines and I had developed relationships with the people there as well. And then, I had to move to an unfamiliar place where I have to start again. Yes, I was excited for the move but I was also stressed by it. Now fast-forward four years later, I am still excited as you can see but I’m still stressed as well. It is not because of you I promised. It is just Jack. He is the only one giving me a hard time here at Holy Family. 🙂

Kidding aside my dear brothers and sisters, at certain points in our lives, we experience changes and new beginnings. Some of them are amazing such as having a new baby or a new dream job. Some are also challenging like mourning a death of a loved one or a breaking of a long time relationship, or the end of a career. Embracing these transitions are crucial and inevitable in our lives and they are not always easy. There are always challenges that come along with them and facing these challenges can sometimes lead to discouragement and despair in our lives. In these difficult moments, we are being reminded that we are never alone and there is always hope for us. The words of God in our scriptures today assure us that for every change that we experience, a new dawn shall break forth and those who believed shall experienced a renewed hope.

Our first reading reflects this hope for a new beginning. Lost in the darkness of exile in Babylon, Israel confronts its sinfulness and rethinks its relationship with God. God sent them his prophet to comfort and console them. Like a mighty and tender shepherd who leads his flock, God himself will gather and guide them as they return to their homeland. Their journey may be long, but it will be a glorious one because God is with them.

As we journey together in faith just like the Israelites in the first reading, we will experience many other changes in our lives. But this Advent, we are encouraged to focus on the real change that we truly need in our lives, that is, John the Baptist’s call for us to repentance and the forgiveness of our sins. Being forgiven marks a fresh start for us – a new beginning, a change – and that is something that we hope to achieve this Advent season.

So let us imagine John the Baptist is before us today. He was dressed in camel’s hair and had a leather belt.  He didn’t dress like the Scribes, Pharisees and Temple priests. He didn’t look like them. He didn’t talk like them. But people listened. He talked about the change that was certainly coming and for that change to happen, it was the people who had to change first.  If there is going to be no more war, then people need to stop hating each other.  If there is going to be charity and care for all, then people needed to look inside their hearts and pull out the justice of God that resides in there.  If there is going to be change, then we, as a people, needed to change first in our lives.

And so today is a good time for us to reflect on what are the things we needed to change in our lives – what are the valleys that we need to fill in? What are the mountains that we need to make low in our lives? The valleys may stand for the things we should be doing but we are not doing, the sins of omission in our lives. Probably, if we aren’t spending quality time with our family and loved ones, we need to fill in that valley. If we aren’t spending at least a few minutes each day in prayer with God, we too need to fill in that valley. The mountains may stand for the selfish and sinful habits that we have built up; the sins of commission in our lives. If we like to gossip and spread criticism, we need to tear down that mountain. If we are leading a double life, we need to lay low that mountain. From all these and from many other things, let us transform ourselves for the better. Change is not always easy, but change is necessary for us to become the best person we can be.

I remember the story of a school principal who called the house of one of his teachers to find out why he was not at school. He was greeted by a small child who whispered: “Hello?” “Is your Daddy at home?” asked the principal. “Yes” answered the whispering child. “May I talk to him?” the principal asked. “No,” replied the small voice. “Is your Mommy there?” the principal asked. “Yes,” came the answer.  “May I talk with her?” Again, the small voice whispered, “No.” “All right,” said the principal, “Is there anyone besides you?” “Yes,” whispered the child, “A policeman.” “A policeman? Now may I speak with the policeman?” “No, he is busy,” whispered the child. “Busy with what?” asked the principal. “Talking to Daddy and Mommy and the fireman,” came the child’s answer. “The fireman? Has there been a fire in the house or something?” asked the principal. “No,” whispered the child. “Then what are the policeman and the fireman doing there?” Still whispering, the young voice replied with a soft giggle, “They are looking for me.”

God is always looking and reaching out for us to change and transform us in our lives. But just like the little child, it would be pretty hard for God to find us if we intentionally close our hearts and keep hiding from Him in our sins and selfishness. Today we are called to change and transform our lives. Let us respond to that call by coming into the open and letting God find us, heal us and forgive us. Let us give God a chance this Advent to fully come and enter into our lives. Amen.

Ready! Get Set!

Posted: December 3, 2017 in homilies
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1st Sunday of Advent Ba

“Ready! Get Set! Go!” These words are familiar to us. We often here this phrase in sportsimages competition. It tells the athletes to be ready on the moment and be on the go when the signal tells them so. But this phase is also applicable in our daily lives. We live in a busy world. There are a lot of things going on in our lives whether it be with our personal life or social life, whether it be in our homes or in our work, whether it be with our children or extended families. We are always on the go. And now that it is the Christmas season, the busy has become busier; the fast has become faster. Does the excitement of the season make you more excited or just more tired and anxious in your life?

We celebrate today the First Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Hope. It is just appropriate that we are being reminded of this dynamic phrase in a different sense: “Ready, Get Set…. Wait!” It is now Wait because Advent is a time of preparation and waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. It encourages us to be ready for his coming in patient waiting and watchfulness. It asks us to take some time to reflect on what we are about to receive this Christmas. It is only by taking the time to open our hearts and minds to the coming of Jesus that we can appreciate what Christmas truly means in our lives.

St. Paul in our second reading today proclaims the meaning of Christmas beautifully: “God is ever faithful”. God didn’t abandon the human race. He promised to send us a Savior, and He fulfilled this promise when He sent to us His only begotten Son. Not only did God saved us, He also promised that our Savior, Jesus Christ would come again to bring our earthly exile to its completion at the end of times. Our God is indeed an ever-faithful God. There is nothing in this world that would ever stop Him from loving us. He will never abandon us no matter what. That is why the prophet Isaiah lovingly calls Him in our first reading today, “You, O Lord, is our Father.” God is our Father who is always there looking after us, protecting us, and loving us. And unlike our earthly fathers, God’s fatherly love has no limits; it has no imperfections; it has no blind spots or failings. Advent is meant to be a time when we renew our awareness of our relationship with Him as our Father and Lord. It is meant to be a time when we lift our minds out of the hustle and bustle of life in our secular world, and gaze with wonder and joy at the light of God’s love brought to us by the coming of Jesus this Christmas. For this reason, we have all the reasons to be hopeful in our lives, confident that He will always be there for us no matter what. We also have all the reasons to slow down, to take a moment in our lives to savor and appreciate that wonder and joy that God is giving us this Christmas.

We have heard in our Gospel today about the story of the gatekeeper and the laborers who are always ready and watchful for the return of the master from the journey. The watchful servants looked forward to his coming because they knew their master would be pleased and would reward them for their vigilance and hard work. Their master has great confidence in them and they delivered.

This is also what is being asked of us in our relationship with God. God believes in us just as we believe in Him. He expects us to be always ready and be prepared for his coming – to be vigilant and watchful. And so this Advent, our call is not only to believe but to watch; not only to love but to watch; not only to hope but to watch! What are we to watch for? One priest from the Philippines wrote in his homily book the things that we need to watch for in our life this Advent and they are from the word WATCH itself, W-A-T-C-H.

First is W, which stands for our Words. Our words are very powerful. It can inspire people to do marvelous things. It can also bring them down and discourage them to be their best. And so, let us be responsible with our words. Let our mouths be instruments of blessing rather than cursing and gossiping, of kindness rather than condemnation, of appreciation rather than destructive criticism. That is why a saying goes: “The tongue should be used to bless rather than to curse; to compliment rather than to criticize; to highlight good qualities rather than focus on bad qualities.” Let us be watchful with our words.

Next is A, which stands for Actions. If we are to introduce ourselves as believers of Jesus, what proof can we show to others that we are really a believer? Our actions must speak louder than our words. Our conduct must reflect profoundly our faith. We know that a mere profession of faith is not enough. We need to express it concretely in our deeds.

What follows is T, which stands for Thoughts. A wise man once said: “All that we are is a result of what we have thought. It begins with our thoughts, it is carried on with our thoughts and ends with our thoughts.” It is never enough to avoid doing wicked things; it is to restrain our thoughts and not to even desire them or entertain them in our minds. For Christ, our thoughts are just as important as our actions.

Next is C, which stands for Character. Saint Paul says: “Fortitude produces character” and “character produces hope,” (Rom 5:4). When trials afflict people, some may allow themselves to whine and grovel in despair, other may spur themselves with the opportunities of being stronger and greater and nearer to God. Christians are those who set their efforts and hopes in bringing about God’s kingdom in their midst. What is the character of our lives?

The last is H, which stands for Hearts. “For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also,” (Matt 6:21). If our hearts are fixed on possessions, we become greedy in our lives; if they are directed to having popularity and power, we become proud; if our hearts are set on worldly security, we become people of fear. What is it in our hearts? Is it a heart full of love for God and for those whom we have committed ourselves to love? Or is it a heart full of our selves?

We who wait and watch for the coming of the Lord will not be disappointed because God does not disappoint. He always fulfill His promises to us in the end. Let us then wait and watch for the Lord’s action in our lives with expectant faith and with joyful hope. When we have truly waited and watched in our life, that is the time that we can truly say – Ready! Get Set! And Go…. Let us go and proclaim Good News of Christ present in our hearts and minds. Amen.



Being Part of the Answer

Posted: November 27, 2017 in homilies

The Solemnity of Christ the King

I have shared to you during my Thanksgiving homily this Thursday about my imagesconversations with people wherein they shared to me that there are a lot of things going on in their lives and these are weighing heavily on them. This happens to all of us in one way or another because there is always something in our lives that we worry about, something that keeps us awake at night or something that just bothers us. As we come to celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King today, “What does this celebration mean to us?” It actually means everything to us. It means that there is a solution to the problems happening in our life and our world today and the answer to our problems is Jesus Christ Himself, our King and Lord reigning in our hearts and in our minds. This might sound simplistic but it essentially tells us the fundamental truth of our faith: Jesus has saved us! This is what our second reading today explicitly attests to us. But the greatness of this feast does not rest alone on the fact that Jesus is always there for us and everything is going to be alright if we put our faith in Him. The greatness of this feast lies also from the fact that we are part of the solution. It challenges us to become part of the answer, not just a bystander. It encourages us to become an active and integral part of the resolution to the problems around us. It warns us that if we are not part of the solution to the world’s deepest needs; we will become indifferent to the world’s problems. If we don’t participate in finding the answer, we don’t contribute to its solution.

So this Sunday is not just about how God has saved us. This is not just about what’s waiting for us at the end of time. The Solemnity of Christ the King is about God and our relationship with Him, right here, right now. If we do not embrace God in our lives, we would discover that our lives would be futile, meaningless and dead. Without God we might just go through the motions asking ourselves, “Why bother? Why bother with raising children? Why bother with caring for others? Why bother with being good? Why bother with anything?” We have heard about the Sheep and the Goats in our gospel today. Both were surprised how God was present in their lives on earth and how they were able to appreciate and disregard it respectively. The sheep did not need to be told what to do. They cared for others. They did what the deep presence of God within them let them to do: they reached out to those who needed them. The goats however were just concerned with themselves. They ignored the plight of others. Because they are so absorbed with their own needs and wants, they easily overlook God’s Presence reaching out to them in the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers and the naked.

For this reason, our gospel today presents a Christian ideal of discovering Jesus in our lives and this is discovering Him in the other person. Jesus is in the person next to me, the person behind me, in front of me, in the person I live with or work with. He is in the person that we loved and even in the person who annoys us. Let us be reminded of this Christian ideal on how we treat each other in our families, in our workplace and in our community. As members of the Kingdom of God, we need to restore the world to the Lord. We need to get out of ourselves and. If we are concerned with ourselves alone, with our own needs and wants, we not only miss the opportunity to care for others, but we live our lives in a way that adds to the plight of the suffering in the world.

I came across a story about what the great basketball player Michael Jordan said according to his biographer. This biographer narrated that he always saw Jordan talked to some young boys on the parking lot after every game held in Chicago. He asked Michael: “Why do you take time to talk to those boys?” Jordan replied: “Talking with them takes so little effort on my part but it means so much to them.” Our little acts of kindness to others mean so much to God. It means so much to those to whom we extend them. Our acts of charity are not just nice things to do. They are not add-ons to our faith. Our charity to others is fundamental to our faith. For this reason, let us take every opportunity for us to do acts of charity and share our little act of kindness to others because through them, we become part of the solution in the world that we live in. Amen.




Image  —  Posted: November 23, 2017 in images