“If you wish, you can make me clean.”

leperThe gospel for this Sunday indicated to me what it means to be humble in front of God who is compassionate and merciful.  And, at the same time, the gospel teaches me the lesson of courage, faith, and sacrifice that gives hope and newness of life.  As I reflected upon the gospel for today, it challenges me somehow to imitate what the leper had shown to Jesus which made Jesus moved with pity.  Humility, Courage, Faith, and Sacrifice-four important virtues that is very significant into my life as I really tried to do my best to be always near in Jesus’ heart.  But, the question is; do I really put these four important virtues in practice?  Do I value them and consider them as exquisite?

This is always my alibi when I encounter important lessons and learnings into my life; it’s easy to say than to do.  But, as I encounter the boldness of the leper in front of Jesus on the gospel, I was challenged to do the same.  If I really want to be ‘healed’ and to attain newness in life, I must not be afraid to humble myself in front of Him, to be courageous in showing to Him that I need him, to have faith in Him that He will never abandon me if I believe in Him, and to sacrifice my pride for the sake of change and transformation.  Hence, the invitation of the gospel for me today is to turn always to Him in time of trouble ready to humble myself, courageous in facing Him with love, faithful to His promise that He is the fulfillment, and ready to sacrifice something even my wants and desires in life.  By doing these, being filled with the joy of salvation is a possibility.  From the start, God never failed us to grant His compassion and mercy from us if we will only believe in His profound assurance; I do will it.  Be made clean.

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The Search for Love

medium_5652405755Here inside the Redemptorist Church, Fuente Osmeña, Cebu City, I spend my Valentine’s Day in silence and reflection while waiting for my Confessor’s availability for confession.  While reflecting, something passed unto my mind, i.e. the question about love that pertains to my life.  My sanity asked me; Alex, what makes love “LOVE”?  What is it for you?  Why are you still seeking and searching for its real nature and identity until now?  When my sanity asked me those questions, I cannot but answer it in silence because I cannot totally give an exact answer for those questions that are somehow intriguing into my life.  But, what I can only attest with the reality called love are the experiences which serve as fruits of my continuous search for its reasons.

Love is the most powerful aspect which greatly affects our entire selves and even our ideals and principles in life.  Without it, we cannot determine that our life is a fruit of love.  In my continuous search for its reason, I realized that we will never feel it unless if it is selflessly accepted by us and shared to others.  Hence, love is selfless.  It is not selfish.  Its definition does not depend on our own standards, but on its own standard.  It has no boundaries; it is for everybody and not just for the few.  As I reflect on its immensity into my life, the more I become attune with it, the more I realize that I am too far with one of its standards, i.e. selflessness.  Until now, I cannot give an exact definition of love for my life because I cannot still abandon my comfort zones as I loved, i.e. to seek for a cost as a consolation for loving with dedication and sacrifice.  Until now, I am restless in searching and seeking for its ultimate reasons and answer for this question; why do I still need to love even though there’s pain and restlessness inside my heart?

Sa pagninilay ko, sumagi sa aking isipan; mahirap talagang tugunan ng aking diwa’t isipan ang tunay na kahulugan ng pag-ibig kung hindi naman ako marunong magparaya.  Kaya, sa buhay ko at sa patuloy kong paghahanap sa tunay nitong kahulugan, hindi maiwasan masaktan ang puso kong sugatan.  Yes, it’s really difficult to love and to find its real definition if I will not learn to let go.  Why let go?  Because, there’s true love in letting go.  It’s better to suffer the pain of letting go than pushing your heart in its limit to love something improper and temporary painstakingly.  Love is not really all by myself.  It’s incomprehensible and immense yet only a selfless heart could fully understand what it is.  What makes me say this thing; it’s because of blindness which until now unfolds into my existence.  I am blind, and so until now I am still searching and seeking for love’s ultimate reason.  This blindness is the reason why I can’t let go and move on.  I can’t love selflessly because I am blind and cold inside.  This is who I am as I see myself in the vantage point of love.  I know it’s a truth that makes me bleed inside, but I am hopeful that by accepting this fact, I will be relieved.

In this Valentine’s Day, I prayed to God that He may grant me the strength to let go, to move on, and to love selflessly.  I pray also that He may help me to surpass all the trials, stumbling blocks, and difficulties that hinder me to love honestly, sincerely, and faithfully.  This is the only way and means that I know so far because I believe He is love that can never be surpassed by other loves.  And, by the way, as I reflect upon the greatness of love into my life, this is what I found out; Valentines is not all about the color red, roses, chocolates, romances, and teddy bears; it’s all about the willingness to be moved by the power of love especially to sacrifice and to be committed for the sake of love, and to love until it hurts and hurts no more.

How can we heal a Broken Heart?

broken-heartWhy is there such a term called ‘broken heart’ when we fall short on our capacity to love?  Actually, I don’t know exactly why it is named in this kind of term.  I only know that the anguish we felt after falling short with our capacity to love is called ‘broken heart’ because we experience it and we cannot name exactly the pain that we felt inside.  Simply put, words cannot truly define what it is.  For me, it doesn’t matter if that experience is named or coined with that term.  My only hesitation about that factual experience is this; how can we heal a broken heart?  There are cure for wounds; there are also medicine for variety of diseases that brings wellness, but for a broken heart, what is the better remedy for it?

To be broken hearted is really a miserable experience.  You will really feel that your heart is being torned apart.  You’re even crying without any reason at all.  You’re stunned and in despair of something that is hard to understand and explain.  And, this kind of feeling does not last; it always haunts you whenever the embarrassing moments of the past popped-up into your mind in certain instances or circumstances.  Why this kind of experience is an inevitable and a prevalent reality in our life as a person who has the capacity to love?  Why does love has a demarcation line called ‘broken heartedness’ that which obstruct, distract, and even destruct the sincerity of our hearts who persevere to be authentic in loving?  I don’t know if it is the force of nature that allows this reality to exists, but I am pretty sure that it has wisdom behind it.  We cannot totally grasp the demands and standards of love unless we sometimes let our hearts to be broken.

How can we heal a broken heart?  There’s no prescribe medicine for this malignant disability except ACCEPTANCE, LETTING GO, and MOVING ON.  These three formulas for starting a new journey to love are still the best remedy for a torned heart up to now.  At first, it’s hard to apply these formulas for they demand attention, sacrifice, and a certain attitude of optimism.  But, as we abide ourselves with it, it’s easy to say deep within our hearts; “Life must go on.”  To be broken hearted is a never-ending story, but it is part of the many consequences if we do our best to love sincerely, truthfully, and faithfully.  Yes, we cry because it’s hard to accept the pain of being a broken hearted individual.  But, it is not yet the end of the world in persevering and being persistent in loving sincerely, truthfully, and faithfully.  All we need to do is to follow the three basic formula in starting to love all over again, i.e. ACCPETANCE, LETTING GO, and MOVING ON.  ACCEPT the fact that we fall short sometimes in loving.  LET GO when it is not getting okay anymore especially when you keep on striving and persevering in loving which if we look on the bigger picture nothing happens.  Lastly, MOVE ON and forget with humility the love and affection that you rendered if it is just wasted for nothing.

Practice what you Preach (2/8/15)

practiceThe last Sunday gospel presented to us the indispensable significance of preaching in the life of a person who is sent for it.  But, how did Jesus exhibited in the gospel its importance?  If we will put into outline the gospel passage, it is divided into three pericopes; First, Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law, Second, Jesus’ Healings and Exorcisms, and Third, Jesus leaves Capernaum for other places.  As we analyze the three pericopes in the gospel passage it highlights the way Jesus put into action what he preaches in his public ministry.  The way Jesus put into action what he preaches manifest what is preaching is all about.  Preaching is tantamount with proclaiming the Kingdom of God as what Jesus is reminding us to do the same.  The miracles that he performed to Peter’s mother in law, at Capernaum, and to other places in the gospel are concrete signs that the Kingdom of God is real and concrete.  Hence, the example of Jesus in his way of preaching the good news is a reminder for all of us that preaching is not all about choosing the best words and expressions in order to convince people to believe, but it is all about putting into practice what we preach and to be a witness of the good news in order for it to be a concrete manifestation of redemption for all.

Action speaks louder than Words.  This is what the last Sunday gospel is reminding us and we must bear into our mind the significance of this in our daily lives.  The first reading showed to us the miserable experience of Job who is so pessimistic about life.  Like him, there are also a lot of people who are living in desperation and also so pessimistic about life.  We cannot blame them on having that kind of attitude about life because as we open our eyes in the reality that we are experiencing right now, there are lots of miseries, anxieties, pessimisms, and even confusions that are concretely happening around us and it’s undeniable.  These are the people who need to be preached not by our words but by our good deeds, care, and affection.  Our preaching must be identified by them and with them, and not be appearing as better off than they.  Thus, it is concretely manifested that preaching is not only sharing our insights, thoughts, and knowledge about the Bible, articles of faith, our religious experiences, and our philosophical and theological analysis about the faith, but it is also healing broken relationships, having a concern for the needy, and building communities rotted in love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness just like the Kingdom of God is all about.

As we continue to reflect the beauty of the last Sunday gospel, let us pray that our good Lord may grant us the grace to practice what we preach and to bring the message of salvation with our actions to those who are in most need of it.  Let us pray also that as we do our best to preach the good news, it may also be a means for us to embrace transfiguration, transformation, and newness of ourselves.

A Mysterious Thing called Love

imagesIf I will engage my attention in silence and reflect the mystery called Love, I cannot but admit the fact that it’s really incomprehensible.  Actually, no words can really define what love is.  Even action falters to describe what it really means.  Hence, love is something that we cannot own or grasps; it is meant for sharing and for giving.  To be honest, one of the reasons why I said my yes to religious life is to search and seek for the real definition, description, and meaning of love.  I encountered a lot of experiences that speaks about love, how to love, and what is the feeling of being loved, but one thing that I learned as I encounter those experiences is the fact that love cannot be what we expect based on our own understanding and knowledge.

I have been searching and seeking for so many years with that so called real love.  But, I always fail to find it because it has so many expressions.  Those expressions are like little dots that when you connect them all, it will show the real image of love.  What is that image?  To be honest, I don’t know it yet because I am still in the process of opening myself with some other expressions of it which is beyond the other expressions that I encountered in my life.  Even though it’s real image is still hard to recognize into my life, it’s enough that I have loved despite the fact that people don’t recognize it.

When will my heart be rested on its restlessness in seeking and searching for this true love?  Many years have been wasted and still it’s hard to define what it is.  As I reflected upon this reality that I am facing now, I realized that love is so immeasurable.  Experiences are not enough to define what it is and to measure its entirety and profundity as a value and virtue.  Hence, love is a mystery, but once you allow yourself to welcome it, search for it, and seek it; it will be a great opportunity to embrace it wholeheartedly.

What matters most is we know how to LOVE

sharing-handsWhen we speak of love we always equate it in the month of February.  “It’s a month of love, and it’s also a perfect month to love and be loved”, that’s what people of today.  But wait, if we have this kind of mentality or attitude about love then it shows that love is something exclusive not inclusive and it is also something occasional and not an extraordinary act of goodness.  Actually, to love and be loved is not just limited and exclusive for the month of February and an occasional entity, but it is something to be given an emphasis in our existence and day to day struggle.  Love is not a thingy phenomenon of human person’s search for meaning, but it is a universal call that redeems and uplifts our brokenness and woundedness inside.

What is special about love?  Why people are getting mad about it?  Love is like how we breathe because we cannot live without it.  It does not only give strength to our weaknesses, but it also gives life to our restlessness.  It is also our ‘crying shoulder’ whenever we are being challenge by so many circumstances and instances of life’s pains and difficulties.  When there’s love, it’s hard to give up because there’s hope within it.  It means to say, love is the greatest and most fundamental entity in human person’s search for true happiness.  That’s why; love is not just an exclusive merit for the month of February.  It is not just all about romance, kissing, hugging, and even sex itself, but it is also a duty and a responsibility that brings harmony, unity, friendship, peace, and solidarity to our neighbors most especially for those who are being deprived to experience it in their lives.  So, Valentine’s Day is not just for partners, couples, and lovers; rather it is an invitation and a call for each and every one of us to reach out the hearts of those who are longing for love and care especially those who are rejected, marginalized, and unloved.

If you’re worried that you’re feeling alone this February 14 which is fast-approaching; do not be saddened and terrified.  Every single person is not an outcast this Valentine’s Day, because its meaning does not depend with the chocolates, teddy bears and love letters that you will be receiving in this occasion, and to search for partner for a date, rather its real meaning will always depend in our capacity to reach out the hearts of those who are in need of love.  What matters most is we know how to love, and that’s what Valentine’s Day is all about.

On Authority

15-Ways-To-Build-Your-Brand’s-AuthorityWhat does it means to be in authority?  Is it being the center of commands, rules, and regulations?  Is it being the most popular, honorable, excellent, and glorious of all?  Or, is it to be the first initiator of what it means to serve with honesty and sincerity and to be in the service for the welfare of the common good?  Jesus in the last Sunday’s gospel showed to us the real nature of authority, i.e. service.  Why authority is service and not fame? Authority is service because it is not self-oriented but people-oriented and it does not brag.  It enhances relationships and at the same time mutual understanding.  Its attention is more focused on what is for the betterment of the people’s welfare than self-proclamation.

Jesus has shown to us last Sunday what authority really means in the light of service.  Authority cannot be what it is and what it must be without service as its core and firm foundation.  Using the last Sunday gospel as our lens and point of reference for reflection, let us focus more outside of ourselves and observe; what, then is the real identity of an authority nowadays?  As I reflect upon the real identity of an authority today it seems too far from what it must supposed to be, i.e. its interconnectedness with Jesus’ authority as model.  People nowadays, including me, expect that a person in authority should be influential, powerful, in control of everything, and has the word of honor.  But, as I encountered the gospel last Sunday which highlights Jesus’ authority, my knowledge and impression about an authority has changed.

Aside from service, the gospel pinpointed to us that Jesus authority means humility and being down to earth.  We cannot attain the real fullness and essence of authority unless we humble and immersed ourselves with the reality of today.  Nowadays, majority of people in authority have failed to show its real identity.  Example of this is the Philippines’ government which until now the cycle of corruption and insensitivities on its system itself is still rampant and becoming like a disease which not only kills the public trust but Truth per se.  When will the real identity and essence of authority be totally reveal and realized?  I think, its real identity and essence will only be revealed and realized in the public sphere unless the people in and with authority considers the great importance of Jesus as the model of genuine authority that serves; being and becoming humble, honest, and down to earth.