The young student was asked to solve a mathematical problem by her teacher; “okay, if you ask your dad 10 bucks and gave it to you, and your mother gave you another 10 bucks, so what’s the amount of your money now?” The young student answered; “it’s just 5 bucks ma’am”. His teacher spellbound in his answer; “Why 5 bucks?” So, the young student get her hand and said; “C’mon ma’am let’s go in our house and try to ask my father for 10 bucks and my mother too. Let’s see if they will give you 10 bucks or not.”
Sounds funny right? Kidding aside, there’s a lesson that we could learn with this silly story. Actually when we try to reflect the story it does not say about the foolishness of the student, rather it talks about the battle between truth and falsity. We cannot deny the fact that we are being engrossed by things that are pleasing in our sights, but sooner or later it will give us discontentment, sadness, and wretchedness. We also sometimes fall into temptation to be misled by pseudo-facts in order to hide our real self. Why we have these tendencies? As I think about it this is what I found out; there’s an inclination within us that we are not at home with ourselves as fragile and weak. So, we tend to be what we are not and wear a mask in order not to be rejected by others. Simply we say that we are afraid to be rejected and unappreciated. Is there any remedy for this occurring negative factor in our lives? Yes! The only remedy for it is to learn the art of accepting ourselves. Acceptance starts from within us. When we abide ourselves from the encouraging factor of acceptance, for sure, there’s no more hesitation within us and we will surely become sincere, transparent, and true in front of others. Why wear a mask in front of others if they are also like you; limited, weak, fragile, yet unique and beautiful in the eyes of the Beholder? We must not be afraid to reveal our true self. We must also be proud of ourselves despite the fact that we fall short in life. Just like the young student who has the guts to show to her teacher her real situation. We must also be like her who Have the guts to show to the world who she really is, where did she came from, and what is really her real status in this world; and I assure you it’s not a mortal sin in the sight of God, but it is a grace that we rarely see with our own eyes.
I would like to share a simple story which I think you already heard before. One evening, a young boy asked God in his prayers; “Lord please give me a brand new bicycle because all of my friends are always bragging about their new bicycles. Please Lord, Please Lord, Pleaaassssse! Grant me a new bicycle…Goodnight!” When morning came his prayer was not granted by the Lord, so he repeats the same prayer every evening before he goes to sleep. Unfortunately, God doesn’t grant his prayers and He remained silent with the young boy. The young boy felt embarrassed and was fed up. When evening came, the young boy rushed to his room bringing the statue of the Sacred Heart tied with plastic yarns and packaging tapes, kneeling down in front of the crucifix, and prayed; “Lord, if you will not grant my prayer for a new bicycle I will not let your Son, Jesus to be freed from these packaging tapes and plastic yarns!”
From this, story there’s a lesson that we should not always forget as we deepen our relationship with the Lord, i.e. we cannot forced God in order to grant to us what we want in life. Actually, I cannot but be honest with myself that I fall sometimes with this kind of temptation. Whenever God is so silent in my personal prayers and encounters in Him I cannot but immediately complain. Sometimes, I doubt and even putted into suspicions the way how God works in my life. With this negative attitude, I realized that the more I complain, doubt, and distrust the providence of God, the more my sight is being hindered to see the big picture of His graciousness and mercy. Hence, He is not the reason why I continuously complain about the damns of my life, but it is still because of my own selfish desires. As I continue to reflect upon the story this is what I learned; I cannot really force God to grant me all that I want and expect, because God knows what is the best for me. Indeed, it is greater than what I ask and more special than I expect. The only thing that I should do is to believe and be patient because any miracle will happen when I will just believe and learn the art of patience into my life.
It’s really hard to live life in the fullest nowadays. Everything is becoming complicated and uneasy. The influx of advancement and the rapid change of lifestyles offer us different sets of direction really confusing and intriguing. Systems of values have been now put into controversies and suspicions due to series of manipulations and miscalculations. Encountering these never-ending events that are happening in our today’s era, is there a place still for laughter and for joy? Could we still say into our lives that to live life to the fullest is possible despite the difficulties that we encounter in life? For me, it is still possible if you’ll going to make a difference into your life starting today.
Life is like a bunch of stories and testimonies. Why I said that? Simply because, we are the authors of our own life stories and testimonies. But we should not also forget that the main director of our lives is God. Without the inspiration coming from Him for sure the genre of our lives every day is always melodrama or probably suspense, and that’s what we hate most right! Even though there are different settings that is emerging nowadays, a happy, hopeful, and joyful stories in our lives is still possible. Even to laugh in our life stories is still promising despite the pessimisms that are hindering our search for happiness. Hence, when life seems losing its meaning due to intricacies that surrounds our world today; we should never lose our sight to God’s inspiration in our lives. Inspiration coming from God is our surest way to see that life is beautiful though difficult. And as you read this simple reflection of mine about life, I would like to give my friendly reminder to you my dearest reader; DON’T FORGET TO SMILE :) because SMILE does not only flex our muscles in our faces, but it also gives us an assurance that life is meant to be enjoyed and lived to the fullest.
The Sunday gospel presents to us Jesus’ own definition of authority and obedience that which we need to consider as we deal in our ordinary events of our life. Revisiting the gospel, we witness how Jesus was tested by the Pharisees on his opinion about paying taxes with the authority. Actually, the gospel does not highlights its message about paying our taxes rightly (although the gospel of today may sound relevant nowadays especially on our obligation to pay our taxes), rather the gospel pinpoints about the authority of God over our lives. For God’s perspective, leadership is not all about “we” and our capacity to lead the people in our own standards. Leadership for God is all about repaying to Him what belongs to Him by simply letting ourselves to be directed by Him as we also do the same, i.e. directing the people towards Him.
God does not deny the fact that we must do our responsibilities for our State. What he doesn’t like in each and every one of us especially to our leaders is to deny His role as guide and as reminder once we do our duties for He is the source of good leadership. As I reflect upon these insights that I gain in letting the gospel speaks to my awareness, I could say that leadership nowadays is too far from its real essence and meaning, i.e. God’s leadership. Since from the beginning God made us aware that leadership is not all about self-glorification, but it’s all about guiding and directing people towards Him. Its root word “lead” would testify that authority of a leader should not be self-centered and egoistic; rather it should be people-centered and rooted on selfless love. In other words, repaying to God what belongs to God it is not only giving what is due to Him, but it is also all about leading and setting an example to the people guided by His example as the real essence of a genuine authority.
As I continue to reflect upon the gospel this is what strike me most; someday I will be given an opportunity to be in authority and lead. I should not always forget that a successful leader is God-fearing. Without the presence of God in an authority it will be useless and a failure. Indeed, the role of God in every authority is significant. Without His presence in every authority that we encounter in life for sure everything will be a great disaster and chaos just like what’s happening nowadays in our society.
Love until it hurts, Love until it hurts no more. This is one of my favorite quotes of Mother Teresa of Calcutta which speaks about love. As I reflect upon this quote, I realize that it is not so easy to love. Pain is inevitable in the realm of love, but if we welcome it into our lives we will be able to understand that love is all about life-giving and not all about lip-service. Love is sweet when we say it with rhythm and harmony, but it is also bitter in praxis or in the way we accept its challenge. From this assertion, we should understand that love is demanding. It always requires us to sacrifice something for the sake of truth and commitment. But though it’s demanding when we let ourselves abide on its significance, it will never fail us to recognize the beauty of life. Only love could lead us into the path of light. Why love is hard to figure out? Why words are insufficient in order to define, describe, and explain the immensity of love into our souls? Why it’s hard to get and difficult to express? It’s because love is not cheap. It is something that we need to be serious about once we deal with it. Love is a God-given gift for all of us and not a product of manipulation and of the world’s ideology. It is something imprinted by God into our hearts which cannot forced or coerced. So, we cannot fathom its real identity into our lives because it flows calmly and serenely. That’s why love is demanding and we can only accept its demands unless we are at peace with ourselves. Only in peace that we could love all the more in spite of the pains, discouragements, sufferings, and sacrifices that we encounter on it as we do our best to fulfill our duty to love with all our hearts, with all our soul, and with all our strength.
Last Sunday gospel enlightened my mind about how God calls us in the ordinary events of our lives. His call is like an initial invitation for a feast. We are being called by God every day to partake on it. Just like what the gospel showed to us yesterday, God assumed in us that we have already formally accepted His initial invitation. Unfortunately, because of our wrong interpretation of free choice and human freedom, we have the tendency to become more interested in our own affairs than God’s affairs. Worse still, we mistreat and ignore His call which actually brings answers to our doubts and anxieties in life.
Actually, I cannot excuse myself that I too have the tendency also to be interested in my own affairs than God’s affairs. Every day He invites me to partake in His plans that He prepared for me, but instead of saying “yes” on it, I let my ears and heart to be distracted and disrupted by the many allurements of the world. I tend to be self-centered than God-centered. The more I disregard the invitation of God into my life, the more I become numb with His loving presence into my life. From this experience I learned that when you lose yourself with the will of God along your journey in life, life seems so complicated and incomplete. Indeed, many are called but few are chosen. Why? It’s because of our fear to commit ourselves with His call.
Many of us responded with His call just like me. Unfortunately, we do otherwise than what we must supposed to do which is proper to His call. The best example of it was the man in the gospel who did not wear his best suit for the wedding banquet and thrown away in the darkness where there was wailing and grinding of teeth. As I reflect upon it, I cannot but be honest with myself that there are times I am not taking seriously the will of God into my life. So, instead of growing into the light of God’s love, I let myself to be covered by the darkness of sin and temptation to be by myself. From this Sunday gospel I realize that responding to the invitation of God takes a lot of effort, seriousness, and dedication in order that my decisions and aspirations in life may be in line with it. It’s hard to move on when there’s no right guides that could only be realized and recognized if and only if we let ourselves to be subdued and be plunged by God’s invitation.
Hence, we are being called by God for a greater purpose in life. It’s up to us whether we say our “yes” wholeheartedly or halfheartedly. God respects our freedom, but being careless of our own freedom to choose what is good, pleasing, and perfect for us does not guarantee a life that is bounded in perfect joy and happiness. Thus the gospel is inviting us to consider the significance of His invitation into our lives that which grant us a better perspective and motivation in life as we journey for reasons and aspirations of our existence here on earth.
When we ignore and disregard opportunities in our lives, the tendency for us is to regret. According to an unknown author regrets can hold us back and prevent the most wonderful things taking place in our lives. So, let us not be an easy-going individual when opportunities draw near into our lives. Welcome it with joy and gladness in our hearts because it brings possibilities that will help us to reach our goals and dreams. Opportunities should not be wasted; rather it should be used as our guide towards the path of success.
Relating this to my personal experiences, I admit, I wasted a lot of opportunities in life. I made a lot of excuses in order to keep myself away from the demands of many opportunities that came into my life simply because I am afraid of committing mistakes. The more I escape myself with the demands of many opportunities that drawing near into my life, the more the feeling of regret, fear, and guilt overshadows my being. When these things bother me a lot, I cannot but cry and be sorry with myself. With this experience I realize that every opportunity in life is like gifts that should not be taken for granted. Though it demands something great we should not be afraid of it. In every opportunity, demands are just means for us to achieve success in life. As we do our best to welcome the demands of every opportunity that we encounter in life, let us not forget the words of Brian Adams in his book How to Succeed; “Demands (Difficulties) are opportunities to better things. They are stepping stones to greater experience.”