“Too much hate will really make us very mad”. As I update my awareness about what’s happening around the world through news, I cannot but be on remorse. There’s too much hate and animosity now that surrounds around the corner of the globe. Today, the main issue is not anymore stability and competence; rather it is all about ‘colonial hate’. Because of hate, violence is now the coat of arms of every ‘colonizers’ of the world whose purpose is to be on the world’s pedestal. Aside from this, the outcry for peace, love, human dignity, and justice are not anymore the raison d’être of those who are struggling for power and thrones, rather they choose to be in fury and to settle things using the ‘iron fist of atrocity’ impeding the human rights and the freedom of the innocent to live in peace and harmony. Is this already a manifestation that we are now living in a civilization of madness which starts everything from hate?
It’s all because of hate that the world is struggling for serenity. The madness in hate is now becoming a trend for those who seek for immediate stability and independence. But wait, is the quest for stability and independence attainable by the madness of hate? It’s impossible! Let’s take a look on what’s happening around us; could we say that stability and independence is attainable by means of guns, beheadings, lootings, brutalities, exploitations, and terminations? Are we still able to be at peace and steady seeing those things? These things are unthinkable and unreasonable if we try to connect these from the perspective of serenity; but these are now considered as common grounds for attaining stability and independence.
Where’s the love? Due to many mayhems and outrages that is happening around us because of the madness in hate; it seems that love and hope are becoming an abstract goal of every nation around the world. Many faced their deaths instantly because of the madness in hate that is now becoming an incurable disease in every society. Many people are now questioning the worth of God in their lives and asking this burning question as an uproar for their sorrows and grief; “Why God we suffer? Why you allow these to happen on us? Why they hate us?” Seeing these realities, I cannot but be pessimistic about this insight that pooped-up unto my mind; ‘The world is a better place for us to live’.
Today, our society is scorching in its own lapses called ‘blame’. It’s really annoying and embarrassing that the rules of the tongue of those who are ‘in power’ and ‘in pursuit of fame’ are all blames and denunciations. It is now somehow becoming a system of thought for those who want to hide the Truth and to reverse it as something to be ignored. Why blame and not to tell the real Truth? Indeed, Truth is a shame for the righteous and for the powerful, so they engage themselves to the vicious cycle called ‘The Blame Game’ for the sake of power and fame. Unfortunately, who suffers the consequences? It’s not them, but us; the society. In this emerging scenario, it’s hard to reconcile that today we are being carried by the bandwagon of fools in our society which annihilates our perception and hope for enlightenment and truth.
Now, everything is being blamed. When there are unfortunate events; when there’s a blitzkrieg of stupidity and foolishness in the authority and society; and when there are accusations and malversation, denunciations or simply ‘blames’ enter the picture through pointing fingers. The point finger takes now an important role in our society. It’s silly, but that’s now the fad of every ruler who overtakes the throne of democracy. Hence, democracy depends on its power of finger pointing overrule our society. Truth lies on the persuasion of the point finger to predict and figure out who tells a lie and who is the enemy of the state. It’s unbelievable and unacceptable, but that’s the reality on how our society is being controlled and governed now by our leaders who popularized the new system of governance called “The Blame Game’ and sad to say, our society became its specimen ad experimentum.
Now, we suffer but the problem is we still close our eyes on the reality that we are becoming victims of ‘The Blame Game’. When we will wake up on the reality that we are being fooled around by so many denunciations and blames? When will be the right time that we will stand up on our feet and say; ‘the game is over; and we need to move on and oust the fools?’ I hope one day it will happen and realized.
One of the things that we hate most in life is to be criticized. So, in#struggles order for us not to be criticized, we avoid opportunities and responsibilities that are hassle-free and easy going. I myself would like to prefer these things as I do my very best to live in happiness and peace. Criticisms are just a hindrance for me to see better perspectives, and this is what I believe. But, it will not be always the case as I venture this kind of life full of possibilities and opportunities. I cannot but accept the fact that criticisms will always be my significant other in the story of my life.
Why there’s a need for us sometimes on the hot seat in the midst of criticisms? As I reflect upon this reality, this is what I found out; it is hard for us to attain authenticity without criticisms. They balance expectations and anticipate transformation. They are not made in order for us to be grouchy and embarrassed; rather they are made and allowed by God to be our reference in pursuing conversion and transfiguration. In the history of mankind, no one ever became great without the pangs of criticisms. Even great figures in the history have experienced the blows of criticisms which they consider it as the teacher or the wise sage. So, we should not be afraid in facing and handling criticisms in our lives.
As I continue to move on in my daily struggle, criticisms enlighten me to build firm perspectives that soon will be a useful means for my perseverance. Hence, my life will never be in harmony unless I consider criticisms in life as the canon and the standard of my existence. In every midst of criticisms there’s wisdom. Life cannot be what it ought to be unless it is being scrutinized and sanitized by criticisms which builds a firm foundation towards a better life.
In yesterday’s gospel, we witnessed how Jesus overcomes the pangs of temptation and drove by the Spirit out into the desert. Afterwards, He went to Galilee and proclaims the Kingdom of God by inviting the people and His followers to repent and believe with it. It is such an awe to notice in the gospel how Jesus overcome the enticement of Satan and proclaimed to the people the wonderful truths of the Kingdom of God. How about us who are easily tempted and distracted by the devil looking upon our nature as fragile and limited?
As I reflect upon the gospel yesterday, Jesus gives us a secret in order for us to overcome the temptation of Satan and emerge as victorious, i.e. Repentance. Yes, our story is different from that of Jesus because we are always falling into temptation. But, the gospel is inviting us to repent because it is only on this way that we may be able to reject the schemes of Satan and be belonging to the Kingdom of God. Yes, we recognize that we are not strong in the midst of trials, so we easily give in to temptation. But, Jesus is reminding us that it is not the end of everything. We can only repent unless we humble ourselves and admit that we have done something wrong. Repentance presumes admission of our sin and guilt, and this is what it means to commemorate the sanctity of Lent. In order to prepare ourselves on our Lenten journey, let us consider into our lives that we won’t be able to believe with firmness that God is merciful and forgiving unless we repent and accept into our lives that we cannot live and be at peace without the presence of God.
Isaiah 58:6-7 New International Version (NIV)
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Yesterday, this passage from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah caught my attention. It gave me enlightenment on seeing fasting in another perspective. It means to say, when we practice seriously there’s something that it emphasize especially on our concern towards our neighbors. Fasting does not only emphasize discipline and self-control, rather it also emphasizes charity and our capacity to reach out. If there’s no reaching out and charity in our practice of fasting, for sure, it will always fall into “showing off” and dieting. Our Lenten journey especially fasting is not only all about mere rituals and asceticism for the sake of self-glorification. Rather, it is all about asceticism and mere rituals for the sake of proclaiming the year acceptable to the Lord through bringing glad tidings to the needy and marginalized. Indeed, Fasting is a reminder for all of us that we cannot reach out ourselves and our hearts unless we sacrifice something. So, in fasting, love is not all about “this is mine”, but it is all about “I am willing to sacrifice my comfort zone and give it as a gift for my needy brothers and sisters”.
Yesterday was the Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of the Lenten Season. The giving of ashes signifies our mourning or contrition for our sins that connect us to the very idea of what penance is all about. However, this observance that was held yesterday should be accompanied with inner conversion, by metanoia or change of heart. Hence, the beginning of the Lenten Season this year invites us with these penetrating words of the Prophet Joel; “Rend your hearts and not your garments” (Joel 2:13)
As I reflected upon the significance of Ash Wednesday for the beginning of the Lenten Season yesterday, my eyes were captivated by the image of the ash. In our day to day living, ash is something ordinary and insignificant. It is the actuality or the final effect of a something that is put into fire or burned. When something turned into ash, it has no use or value anymore, or better we just throw it away or dissolved by the water. On the contrary, I noticed yesterday the significance of its insignificance. When it was placed on my forehead in a form of a cross, it reminds me about my insignificance in front of God. “Remember, you are dust and to dust you will return”-these were the words that the priest said while he places the ashes on my forehead. These words were concrete manifestations that I am nothing in front of God who is rich in kindness and abundant in mercy, yet significant as his child whom He truly loves. Henceforth, there is significance behind our being insignificant.
Just like the ash which is just ordinary and insignificant on our eyes, we are being challenged to have this kind of outlook into our lives in this season of Lent who are being succumbed by pride, prejudices, and self-centeredness by humbling ourselves in front of God, conversion, and repentance. Just like Walter Buns said; “Some people think that having ash on your (our) forehead is ridiculous. But I am (We) neither ashamed nor afraid because the ashes remind me (us) that I will have to pass away someday and reunite with my creator.”
We cry foul every time we fall short or commit mistakes. There’s a tendency for us to be discouraged whenever we experience and encounter it, and we also realize that through those things we became less human. It’s really hard to accept the fact that we are limited and we are prone to brokenness and woundedness. What is the purpose of being limited in certain aspects of our lives? Why is it hard to accept the TRUTH that we are born with certain limitations, imperfections, and shortcomings in life?
What is the purpose of being limited? If we were all created omniscient and omnipotent, will we be able to appreciate harmony our nothingness, and our unworthiness in front of the Divine? Will we be able also to recognize that we cannot but depend on His will which is the best? Our purpose of being limited in front of the Divine is to be aware of the importance of life that is connected to Him. We lack something, so we need Him and we cannot pretend and hide the truth that we are incompletely and imperfectly composed, disposed, and organized as a person because it always reveal no matter how we ignore these realities. To be imperfect and limited is not a curse, rather it’s a blessing. Even our imperfections, shortcomings, and limitations are necessary to the universal perfection which the Divine established. So, we must be happy with our imperfections, shortcomings, and limitations because in these realities are God’s way of assuring us of His love.
Why is it hard to accept the TRUTH that we are born with certain limitations, imperfections, and shortcomings in life? Simply because, we don’t like it and we feel that we are living in a curse or in a wrath that destroys the real identity within us. It should not be the emerging mentality into our minds when we encounter certain shortcomings, imperfections, and limitations in life. When these things arise, we should not let our smile fade into our faces. Life must go on even though we are in the realm of our own ‘shadows’. Life is infinite and full of possibilities; so we must not be discouraged in facing our own ‘shadows’. Our imperfections, shortcomings, and limitations are not a hindrance for us to achieve change. Instead, they serve as means to reach the highest peak of our identity as persons.