Wednesday, December 12, 2007

POWER: Mysteruim Tremendum

I was fascinated watching the film entitled Evans Almighty. It is a film that has a similar story of Noah. The film is a little bit comical but it portrays how God calls man for a certain mission and in the same way, it also illustrates the initial tendency of man in responding the mission that is given to him. The main character was Evan Baxter, a well known governor of the United State of America. He owned everything and lived in a comfortable, luxurious and pleasurable life with his wife and kids. Mystery of all mysteries, at a certain point of his worldly life God appeared to him and said “I want you to save the people; I want you to make an ark”. He was shocked hearing what God said to him. He was deeply troubled for sure nobody would believe if he would say that God instructed him to make an ark. He could not accept the task for he was a public icon, a governor of the United States and besides he has no knowledge about carpentry. Even if he refused to accept the mission, God really find way for him to follow what God wanted him to do. His physical appearance rapidly changed like an old wise men wearing a robe. He tried to explain everything but people hardly accept and believe what he was telling even his own family. He really refused to accept the mission and when God is in his midst he really asked God ‘why me?’ but since he had no power beyond these things, he accepted the mission and forgot his being a public icon.

Obviously my vocation is not the same with story in the movie. But there is one common denominator that caused me and Evan to really choose and live a life that does not conform to what is normal. It is the power of God that would transform the life of the person; a power which is incomprehensible by human capacity.

I am 22 years old right now, with a bachelor’s degree. In the normal way of life after graduation, people would look for a stable job for living and at a certain point of maturity decides to settle down and raise a family. But where I am right now? I am still a student and chose to remain being a student and sacrifice even at the middle of the night reading some articles, bible, church documents, composing essays for theological reflections and spend more time in studying and memorizing Greek vocabularies while most of my contemporaries have already landed a job and gained their monthly salary, setting in a comfortable office The world is offering bigger opportunities but why I still chose to stay in the vicinity of the seminary. Sometimes I was ashamed to ask financial assistance to my parents because I know in my heart that they already accomplish their obligation to send me to school and finish a degree. Supposedly, it is already my time to help them in providing the needs of our family. I understand when people asked me “why I chose this “impractical” way of life?” It is simply because of the POWER that I feel deep within; a power of pure grace that is not self-generated or a matter of imagination or fantasy.
This power was not only working in me but it was also the same power that made the early Christians zealous in proclaiming the word of God even on the midst of threats and violence. It was also the same power that inspires the evangelist to write the sacred scripture. This power is still present in this present time. It is this power that moved the formators to work hard in forming the seminarians in a holistic manner. Before when I saw older priest and even now with Fr. Antonio for example, I would really ask myself how this person reached this far in his ministry? Where did he get his strength that until now he is still active in his ministry? But now I realized it is because of this power that made them survive. It is this power that made them like an athlete who runs the race with hearts ablaze. Bisan tigulang na, maglisod na ug buhat sa mga buluhaton pero padayon pa gihapon sa pagserbisyo isip alagad sa simbahan. In other words, tumanda na’t nakuba pero nandyan parin sila. There presence is really a concrete evidence of God’s grace that is given to man. Yes, I would agree I am not qualified with what it is to be an ideal seminarian but by the grace of God working in me my faith tells me and gives me strength that eventually I would be standing in front of the congregation as a visible instrument of His presence. Indeed, God did not call the qualified but he qualifies the called.

Tempus fugit. Time flies. The semester is about to end but the memory seem to be so fresh when I first saw my classmates carrying their bags and busy putting up their things in their cabinets. The time wherein Cocoy first decided to leave the formation and just recently when all shared the loneliness brought about by the decision of Bemboy to leave the house of Xavier. Sometimes I would ask myself, who will be the next? Ako? Siya? Sila? Kami?... only God knows the answer. But whatever happens I am still holding on to my dream with earnest prayer that in an unexpected and surprise moment of our lives we, the Panis batch, will be together with Fr. Manol breaking bread in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The power made it happen!

Till the ends of my days, O Lord,
I will bless your name.
Sing your praise, give you thanks,
All my days.

You have blessed me with good things and plenty
And surround my table with friends
Their love and their laughter enrich me; together we sing…

Motto: Mirror of the “Self”

“Watch your words, they might become your actions… watch your actions, they might become your habits… watch your habits they might become your being” I was struck by this phrase spoken by a certain priest who is a friend of mine. It simply shows how powerful words are and its influence to man’s life. Words can create relationship. It is somewhat like a hanging bridge that connects two dead-end roads. It is one of the many factors that make us fully human. It is an element for unity but it can also be a cause of dispute and division. It can cause us pain more than a two edged sword that is pierce in our hearts.
Our words are deeply rooted on our thinking. What we utter was just an effect of our thinking and this thinking process was a product of our inner passion. Every word that we uttered and every action we did are just concrete manifestations of our passion. It is the passion that prompts us to move just as Jesus’ life was centered on proclaiming and building the Kingdom of God here on earth because he was moved by His passion. Just like a runner in the race track who runs with all his might and along the way there are obstacles that needs to be hurdled just to attain his passion to win.
My life is not so much filled with interesting stories. I am a simple person with simple ambitions in life. I have nothing to brag since in the first place I have nothing and perhaps I would say I am nothing. As I am writing this paper, I am not really enthusiastic since I don’t have life stories to tell that makes the reader fascinated. But this nothingness was filled by the grace of God and my life revolved around this motto since I was in college “what I have is a gift from God, what I would be is my gift to God”. I received many graces from God in various occasions and through different people whom I met along my journey. What I have and who I am right now is God’s way of filling the nothingness that I feel deep within.
When I was in college, I was not sure really about my vocation. I was not really convinced that priesthood was meant for me because I experienced moments of dryness, crisis and of struggles in many ways it was then after my regency that things came so clear like a water that is why my life revolves around this motto”what I have is a gift from God, what I would be is my gift to God… I don’t know where I am going but I know I’m on my way”. My college life was mixed with different experiences. Some experiences make me like an innocent man walking in the busy street of the city. It made me lost like a wanderer searching for something that is why I said I don’t know where I am going but it is clear to me now that those experiences that I have been through will equipped me for my further journey. I went to of different crossroads which I thought before I was passing the other way. I was wrong, those rough roads are still part of my journey and I was sure ,after my regency, that I am still trudging the same way – I know I’m on my way.
“I don’t know where I am going but I know I’m on my way”. I intend not to include this phrase right now because I am pretty much sure of my vocation; I am totally convince with deep faith that God is calling me to this special and noble vocation. I know it is not easy to respond to what I believe but I would really stand to my belief and make the most of what God has given to me. I have nothing, what I have is a gift from God and whatever I can be in the future is my gift to God as a way of thanking Him for filling this empty self of mine.†

FAITH: A Paradoxical Reality

I was fascinated with how God saved the Israelites from the hands of the Egyptians. The story of the Deliverance at Sea in Exodus 14 was never be the same after knowing the significant implications about this event. This experience of the Israelites was a confirmation that they were really the chosen as people of God. It was the defining moment of the people of Israel as they experienced God’s power that freed them from the slavery of suffering and oppression. God revealed himself as Lord and Savior that brought new hope and life to the Israelites. Beyond no doubt God really intervened into the lives of human beings. He is not indifferent to the needs of his people.
The Paradoxical character of Faith catches my attention because basically I also went through of this kind of experience. Though I grew up in a devout catholic family, I could not help that sometimes I doubt my faith. The practices that the church introduced which I faithfully performed seemed mechanical and useless. I felt like a robot that has been manipulated by somebody. I want explanations to rationalize those practices to enlighten my youthful understanding.
As I become mature the certainty of faith is not a question for me, but sometimes I am overwhelmed with my doubts that would lead to obscurity. Indeed, faith is reasonable but beyond natural reason. It cannot be fathom by human understanding. It is a gift yet our doing. In the time of Moses, the Israelites experienced God’s revelation when God freed them from slavery. But they remain doubtful. They were asking who ‘is’ this power that saved them. They long to glimpse this transcendent God to confirm that what they believe in was true. This is a human tendency. That is why they carved the golden calf to make visible this being who is beyond their reach. This was also what happened to Thomas the apostle-"Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe." (Jn.20:25)
Two weeks ago, I watched the film entitled “I’ve fallin for You”. It was a nice movie of a complicated teenage love affair. As I was reflecting about the movie, I came to realized that it was not that hard to build a relationship with the opposite especially in this modern time. On the other side of the coin, creating an intimate relationship with the unseen is not that easy as engaging into a relationship with the opposite sex. Just the same with faith, lisod mag-mugna ug relasyon o pagtoo sa dili makita ug sa dili mahikap but as the Council of Carthage says, faith is a grace. A gift yet our doing (CFC 149)
As I watched the movie I realized somehow that I am getting older. I am not anymore a teenager guy but a young mature person. Gone were the days of happy and exciting memories of courtship; teenage memories that still linger worthy of remembering. Yes, I am still capable of doing those things. I am not that old, but I choose to be what I am because of my faith and strong conviction that I have the vocation.
I have done a lot of breakthrough in my life. Struggles that I made to conquer and sacrifices that I successfully passed through. What made these great things possible? Of course, it is not Globe but surely because of my strong belief that I have the vocation. Certain yet obscure. What makes it obscure? It is precisely because the intellect cannot supply any exact reasonable and empirical evidence to make my claim as certain as scientific knowledge. One statement from the film catches my attention ‘bakit ang cell phone nag lo-lowbat ba’t ang puso hindi mapigilan’. It is true. Our hearts continues to urge us to believe and be certain with our faith. But our mind has its limitation to understand this reality like the cell phone that reaches its limitation. Truly, the heart has its reason which reason does not understand.
How wonderful it is to realize these things†