Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Humble learning

Being learned is indeed impressive, but the real wise men and women are humble seekers of the truth, ever keeping an open mind, realizing that they do not know everything.  Some who went to prestigious schools may think that they know everything as they come out.  They forget their roots and even what is basic, to respect their parents.  Such attitude of pride “goes before disaster, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18).

A good advice is not to believe anybody but because you want to go deeper, you keep on asking the important questions of life and destiny, as a little child does.  Truly did Jesus say, “Unless you change and humble yourselves as little children you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3). On the other hand, beware of remaining ignorant all your life and remember “a little knowledge is dangerous.”

Words further reflect a person’s character. They mirror one’s inner strength, courage, wisdom and serenity that help shed light on one’s steps day by day. Honest words will win the trust of others;  humility will win their support.  Each day may the power of words find us inspired, strengthened, and abundant with God’s heavenly blessings.  May the words of our simple prayer keep us aware of our soul’s continued quest for Godliness which will spell lasting happiness.  May we be open to the small “epiphanies” of God’s presence and surprise blessings day by day—to stay blessed and continue to be a blessing.

The start of another year is a call to go to the deep (‘duc in altum’), learn more from God and creatures, and be humble enough to admit how little one knows, while being open to find the words that reveal a God of truth and love.  How wonderful to learn from Jesus and the Saints that humility is truth.  “He who humbles himself shall be exalted.  He who exalts himself shall be humbled” (Mt. 23:12; Lk. 14:11; Lk. 18:14).

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Blessed to be a blessing

Life is a mixture of good and bad, in the actual arena of one’s personal and social environment, and in the social media of varied ways of communicating.  Take texting for example.  The messages may be caring or scary; challenging or troubling; friendly or unfriendly; cheerful and uplifting for the downhearted.  The messages received at New Year were full of hopes for the good life, the “silver lining to shine through the darkest night” and other “magical” as well as spiritual aspirations.  A message also read like this: “Life is a mixture of both good and bad. It simply depends on how we make of it.  Consider these:  There’s “hell” in hello; “good” in goodbye; “lie” in believe; “over” in lover; “end” in friend; “ex” in “next”; and “if” in life.  Life is really how we live it! 

Seeing events with optimism, we may turn the tables from the negative ‘downs’ to positive ‘ups’, as: Sadness to happiness; sorrow to joy; desperation to inspiration; frustration to success; sickness to good health; hatred to love; war to peace.  The events need the right eye to recognize all events as “blessings” since nothing happens without God’s permission and unfailing aid for those who call upon Him in prayer.  God has given us the intelligence to reason rightly and the will to choose rightly so as to fulfill the right order.  The “Right Order” is the redeeming mission of Jesus [and ours] to atone for sin in order to reconcile the sinful world to the Father, and its Creator.  The work of reconciliation meant that Jesus had to share the lot of all sinners and expiate for all sin by His sacrificial death, as prophesied by the Prophet Isaiah.  At His baptism at the Jordan river, “Jesus answered John, ‘Let it be [baptized] like that for now; so that we may fulfill the right order” (Mt. 3:15).

The rising dawn and the sunrise are blessings of nature that we encounter every morning.  One may rightly say that God sends new blessings every morning; none we can call leftover blessings.  With each sunrise come new challenges, new opportunities, new beginnings, new reasons to smile. These are outpourings of God’s love and grace. The New Year is a time to “forget” the past and start life afresh with new hopes, aspirations and cheer.  It’s a time to grow and nurture the positive human values of the Christian order with God’s heavenly grace, walking in the steps of humble obedience of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the saints.  And no matter what, one is blessed to be a blessing to others.  Let each day of the year open our eyes to the countless opportunities to be channels of God’s blessings, letting the light of the Good News of Jesus’ Word and Life glow and vanquish the gaping darkness of evil and sin. “Your light must shine before others, so that they may see the good you do and praise your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:16).

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The family mission

The Son of God whose birthday we celebrate on Christmas day was born into a family in Nazareth, the greatest Gift of God to uplift sinful humanity.  God Himself chose to come into the world in a human family which He himself formed.  The family itself introduces fraternity into the world, through the example of the parents aware of their responsibility to educate their children in finding their own lives to lead.  “An intelligent son listens to his father’s advice, but a mocker listens to no correction” (Prov. 13:1).

As Pope Francis writes in his Apostolic Exhortation, ‘Amoris Laetitia’, article 18: The Gospel reminds us that children are not the property of a family, but have their own lives to lead.  Jesus is a model of obedience to his earthly parents, placing himself under their charge (cf. Lk. 2:51), but He also shows that children’s life decisions and their Christian vocation may demand a parting for the sake of the Kingdom of God (cf. Mt. 10:34-37).  His statement: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (Lk. 8:21) shows the need for other deeper bonds even within the family.  At twelve years of age, Jesus tells Mary and Joseph that he has a greater mission to accomplish apart from his earthly family: “Why were you looking for me?  Do you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk. 2: 49).

May Jesus’ birth awaken us to the role and mission of the family in bringing up children in the faith.  One of the Psalms celebrates the proclamation of faith within families: “All that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us, we will not hide from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders which he has wrought…that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them totheir children” (Ps. 78:3-6).  The family is thus the place where parents become their children’s first teachers in the faith. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The search adventure

Life is a constant seeking for answers to quests, questions and uncertainties, particularly in relation to the Great Beyond, or to the God of the Universe.  Questions have frequently lured the youthful mind on the state of suffering in the world, and why a caring God seemingly does not care about the plight of the poor or why innocent persons become victims of violence and injustice.  This points to one’s knowledge of the nature of God or one’s ignorance of God’s Being, perhaps even asking why the Son of God was born poor and daringly faced the death penalty for a crime He did not commit. Ergo, the search for the truth
The answers are best found in history: God present in historical revelation and processes, as far back as the Bible stories.  “God manifests himself in time and is present in the processes of history,” Pope Francis said in an interview with Fr. Antonio Spadaro,S.J., in La Civilta Cattolica. The pope added that “A contemplative attitude is necessary…profound peace, spiritual consolation, love of God and love of all things in God.”  The renowned English theologian, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) was an Anglican priest who was converted and accepted into full communion with Catholicism in 1845 after his studies of the Scripture and the historical writings by the Church Fathers convinced him that the Catholic Church was in closest continuity with the Church that Jesus founded. Likewise, St. Paul and St. Augustine immediately embraced the grace of a change of heart upon encountering the truth of God’s Revelation and lost no time in spreading His Word far and wide. In the same vein, Cardinal Newman wrote 40 books and 21,000 letters. Many others, like the ‘golden-voiced’ Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, American Archbishop, also promoted Jesus’ teachings and Catholic morality through prolific print and broadcast media. 

The adventure of seeking and meeting God continues at various stages of one’s life journey and the history of our world. The great faith of our ancestors can be read in Hebrews 11. God is present in all persons even if their life is destroyed by drugs or vices.  God is present in events, especially the disturbing and painful ones that serve to strengthen our faith and fuel the spiritual thirst for communion with the God of Love. We can, and must try to seek, discern, contemplate God in every human life, and trust that God will set the encounter, in His own time, as long as there is truth and love in the heart. The German Jewish convert to Catholicism, St. Teresa Benedict of the Cross, OCD (Edith Stein), wrote: “He who seeks the truth, seeks God, whether he is aware of it or not.  Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Go and do

The title is an active reminder and challenge to action, to get out of one’s comfort zone and do the hard work of helping one’s needy neighbor, following the example of the Good Samaritan, of whom Jesus said, “Go and Do the Same” (Lk. 10:37). Go and Do the Works of Mercy now, as St. Mother Teresa did when she saw a dying person abandoned in the streets of Calcutta.  Go and Be a true disciple, witnessing to the total surrender of the King of Mercy on the Cross, alert to share one’s time-talent-treasure to be a prophet and servant to restore the Kingdom Values to a rabidly secularized world.
We cannot rest contented and secure that the heavenly glory is ours if we close our hearts to the suffering of our brothers and sisters.  The verdict will come at the Last Judgment before the King who will say to those on His right: “Come, blessed of my Father!  Take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world.  For I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me drink…sick and you visited me….Truly, I say to you: whenever you did this to these little ones who are my brothers and sisters, you did it to me” (Mt. 25:34-40).

Working for good and living a witnessing life is what contributes to one’s growth as a human being.  Even a listening ear to one in crisis in the family or community will help dispel the inner fears  and pains, and restore the confidence within the person’s aggrieved heart.  For a Christian, constant prayer and discernment are needed to nourish the baptismal commitment to Jesus who came to be born as man to redeem and form humanity into the Father’s divine family.  With child-like trust in the providence of God, we let go of our anxieties and follow the Father’s will for us.  We bring to prayer the concerns and realities we encounter, reading and discerning  God’s word and message in our dialogue with people and events of various socio-cultural contexts.  “You will reveal the path of life to me, and at your right hand everlasting pleasures” (Ps. 16:11).