Failures on the Wall

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A well-known public attorney was fond of framing his failures during his elementary days, high school days, and even when he took up law in college, like failed test papers, low-grades, low quizzes, and his failed 1st attempt to bar exam, and posting it on the wall of his office. Suddenly, a client noticed them all and asked him; “Sir, why do you need to display your failures from the past? It’s absurd and ridiculous! Are you belittling yourself sir? “No, I am proud of it”, the attorney responded that made his client puzzled. The attorney noticed his reaction so he added, “Actually, these failures posted on my wall reminds me of three words; NEVER GIVE UP! I have so many failures in life as you can see on the wall but it is just a representation of the whole picture of my failures in life. But, those failures did not hinder me to move on. Failures are inescapable realities in life. However, I believe they serve as bridges and ladders for success. Now, I am successful because of my failures. But, do you know one of the lessons that I have learned from these failures and the many failures that I encountered and experienced in life?” What’s that? His client responded. “Its humility my dear! The more I experience failures in life, the more it reminds me to humble myself, and the more it helps me to go on towards success. So, never disregard your failures in life. Never remorse your failures, but make it as your means to embrace fulfilment and success in life.” His client was inspired and amazed on what the attorney have said to him about the failures on the wall.

The Potter’s Hand

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A famous pot maker artist was interviewed in a talk show. The host asked him, “Your works are really impressive, unique, creative, and aesthetic. Indeed, I am convinced that your pots are really world-class masterpiece. To inspire our audience and tele-viewers by your success, I would like to ask this question, what’s your secret in making such artistic pots?” The pot maker artist smiled at the host and said, “Every time I make pots I always consider myself as a clay.” “C’mon you’re kidding!” the host said with a vibrant laugh. The pot maker artist responded, “Yes it’s true. A clay is filthy, dirty, and muddy. Sometimes it has a foul smell too. But, once I started to use it for pot-making I don’t mind those things anymore. In spite of its filthiness, dirtiness, muddiness, and foul smell I see to it that the best, artistic, and world-class pot will come out. Just like me for instance. Yes, today I might be a well-known successful and prominent artist because of my works but behind my success, were a lot of failures, rejections, and oppositions in life. However, I chose to move forward despite of my limitations and shortcomings. Every time I persevere on my passion in life I started too realized not to focus on my inadequacy, but to the positive traits, talents and the goodness within me instead. Hence, the secret is TO let failures, shortcomings, limitations, rejections, and oppositions be the potter’s hands of your life. Accept it. Because it makes you humble, and it molds you to be the best, artistic, and world-class version of yourself just like the works of arts.” The audience and the host were stunned and gave him a warm of applause by his inspiring words.

 

On Patience…Patience… and Patience

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picture taken from http://www.thepoortraveler.net

Heavy traffic in EDSA, long queue in the MRT or LRT waiting for someone for almost an hour, processing important documents and papers in some gov’t offices, choleric co-workers, uncooperative colleagues, demanding husband or wife, stubborn, rebellious children, waiting for the one true love, and so on. These are some of the many examples that irritates us and test our patience. It’s really difficult to be patient nowadays, looking upon our situation that we are living; a complex world full of impulse, stress, and anxiety. However, why is it so important to be patient amidst these realities? Why patience is still consider as one of the significant Christian virtues despite the undeniable fact that we are living in a compulsive-kind of world?

In a world filled with discourteous and rude drivers in streets, selfishness, individual differences that cause conflicts with co- workers and the constant demands of children and family, we often need patience just to keep it together. But, how? Here are the three things that we should consider about patience as a Christian virtue; (1) Patience understands and trusts God’s perspective. How many times have we lost our patience in God because of the trials that we felt was so unfair? The tendency is, we put the blame on Him, we complain, and we walked away from Him when we can’t bear the struggle anymore. But, have you ever noticed that in bearing it and keeping control over the impulse of it, we recognize that He understands us and we put our trust in Him? Thus, when trials come, be patient and hold on to Him. He understands our needs far better than we do. As much as we know what we want, He knows what is truly best! It is good that we allow us to be guided by these words coming from the book of Lamentations; “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD” (Lamentations 3:25-26). (2) Patience loves and respects others. One of our biggest challenges in life is trying to exercise patience in our relationships with others. We easily become annoyed when we encounter ill-mannered and difficult individuals. However, being fretful will not be a good means to treat them with love and respect. Remember; Jesus shows his patience with love and respect even to the die-hard sinners of His time. It’s hard to live life in the fullest when impatience overrules our lives. It’s also hard to gain trust from others when we let ourselves be controlled by being impatient. Many serious quarrel starts with or short temper over little annoyances or inconveniences. Hence, we must really exercise patience in order that we may love and respect others. Having this kind of patience that pertains to love and respect others truly treasures them and revered them in spite of their shortcomings. Let’s consider 1 Corinthians 13:4; In 1 Corinthians 13:4 we are told that love “suffers long,” or is patient. The passage goes on to describe how love is not selfish, prideful or rude, because it is after the welfare of someone else. Love is the basis, and patience is part of that process. (3) Patience encourages us to stand up with optimism amidst trials. This is another important reason why we really need to practice it in facing our trials and difficulties in life. In order that we may be able to consider patience as an encouragement, we must really cope with our daily annoyances and hardships without complaint and with optimism, knowing that God’s providence does not really permit any trial that will not be a source of good for us if endured unwearyingly. Hence, let us be inspired and fortified by the words of the Letter of James; “Brethren, you will always have your trials but, when they come, try to treat them as a happy privilege; you understand that your faith is only put to the test to make you patient, but patience too is to have its practical results so that you will become fully-developed, complete, with nothing wanting.” (James 1:2)

There is an old Dutch proverb that says, “A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.” We can’t deny the fact that in our experience it often shows that a patient person will always make better decisions and see more favorable and positive outcomes in life than a very intelligent person who doesn’t have the patience to wait for the right time and opportunity. However, how may we be able to attain better decisions and to be more positive in life despite the oppositions and hostilities that we encounter every day? Let’s always remember and consider three things why we really need to practice patience daily; (1) it understands and trusts God’s perspective, (2) it loves and respects others, and (3) it encourages us to stand up with optimism amidst trials. We ask the Lord who is very patience on us that He may grant us the grace to really practice patience as a very important Christian virtue for our lives wholeheartedly.

A Love Letter for Baby Jesus

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Dearest Baby Jesus,

One day to go before your birth. I cannot but feel more excited and cheerful for your coming.  I could say that I do my very best to prepare myself for your coming, but it’s not enough.  Anyway, I truly believe that it’s not on the grandiosity of my preparation what you would like to count on in me, but it’s my heart.  No matter how big or small my preparation for your coming, what matters most for you is the willingness of my heart to be open with the possibility for renewal and conversion.

Within this month I really do my very best to embrace renewal and conversion in my life.  Sometimes I gain and improve, at times I fall short.  To embrace renewal and conversion in life is really a win-or-lose experience.  It takes a lot of enthusiasm, determination, and faith.  It’s challenging, yet gratifying.  Dear Child Jesus, I’m sorry for failing you and also for not doing the good things that I ought to do.  I’m sorry also for my stubbornness and for doubting your graces and blessings.  I’m really so ashamed to welcome you, but you proved to me that I should not be ashamed in welcoming you despite the many failures and shortcomings that I have.  You still love me.  It’s a humbling experience to realize that your love helps me to move on and comforts me whenever I am anxious and preoccupied with so many negative things in my life.  I am so blessed whenever I fall.  You always say to me “Be still…Do not be afraid for I am always with you”.  As you always saying this to me I am always assured of your presence in my life. And, knowing you is one of the greatest gifts that I in my life.

As your coming is almost near, Lord, teach me to love just like the way you show your love on me.  Make me a channel of your love even though I am being rejected because of love.  It’s your love that make me realize who really am I; broken and unworthy, yet consoled and redeemed.  Clothe me with the mantle of your love that I may be strengthen and motivated by it to face life’s challenges with a positive outlook in life.  Although uncontrollable sadness sometimes distresses me as I wait for your nearing natal day, make me happy and have an eager and a joyful trust in you.  May I also learn to lean and to count on you as I really struggle for peace and serenity of my mind and heart.

Lovingly yours,

Alex.

#ChristmaSerye (A Lesson learned form the Three Magi)

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One of my favorite scenes in the Nativity story is the bowing down of the Three Magi and giving their gifts in front of the Baby Jesus born in a manger.  From this scene, a question pops-up in my mind; what lesson could we learn about the Three Magi?

Reflecting about the role of the Three Magi in the Nativity story reminds me of an attitude that I must consider as I am preparing myself for the nearing natal day of Jesus, i.e. humility.  Being impressed, inspired, and challenged by the humility of the three Magi, it become clearer for me the message of St. Paul’s exhortation in his first letter to the Corinthians that Jesus is the Power of God and the Wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24).  At first, I find the bowing of Three Magi in front of the Baby Jesus ironic because they were considered wise, learned, and influential, and then without any hesitations they bowed down in front of a simple child born in a stable of Bethlehem, and not only that, they also presented their gifts to the child who was just an ordinary child.  But, as I am continuously pondering its message, I realized, this humbling expression of the Three Magi gives us an idea that Jesus is really an extraordinary person which even the Three Magi bowed down to Him because He is the Power of God that cannot be predisposed by the earth’s power, and the Wisdom of God that cannot be domineered or swayed by earth’s wisdom.  Yet, He humbled Himself and became like us.  He is God, but He chose to be in a form of a slave because He loves us so much and He cares for us.

What is the invitation of this for us?  It’s simple; it’s all about the significance of humility as our passage way for conversion.  The story of the Three Magi reminds us that through humility we will be able to recognize the significance of putting our trust and hope in Jesus who is full of mercy and love.  Without Him, it’s hard to live, it’s hard to be firm in our faith, and it’s hard to understand the beauty, the uniqueness, and the happiness of living with His presence this Christmas.

The Lord’s Tuwid na Daan

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Ano ang Tunay na Tuwid na Daan? (What’s the Real Right Path?)

I think we are all familiar as we always hearing about the Tuwid na Daan (Right Path).  For sure we all know that this is the political motto of the Aquino government and of the Liberal Party which assures a better and strong Philippines as a nation (Is this makes sense? Is this sounds appealing?).  Stating this fact, it is not my intention to endorse the Liberal Party for 2016 Elections nor elevating the Aquino’s Administration.  I used the Tuwid na Daan thing for my reflection in considering about the real straight and right path for our lives and for our welfare, i.e. the Lord’s Tuwid na Daan which is more powerful and greater than it.

The Second Sunday of Advent, which we commemorated last Sunday, and last Tuesday’s solemnity of the Immaculate Concepcion introduces and presents to us the real straight and right path for our lives.  Probably, this straight and right path is what we really aspire, dreaming, and hoping for-the path that which greater than the government’s Tuwid na Daan and for sure cannot be also controlled by its temporal and political power.  But, how we may be able to feel and embrace this path?  Here are the three things that suggests our attentiveness and awareness; (1) To feel and embrace the Lord’s Tuwid na Daan means to prepare ourselves with a welcoming attitude.  St. John the Baptist in the gospel for the Second Sunday of Advent encourages us to prepare the way of the Lord and to straighten his paths.  This is possible unless we welcome the Lord in our hearts through conversion.  So, the burning question is this; are we willing to change our old bad habits, vices, and intriguing values systems for the sake of welcoming the Lord into our lives?  The only way in order to prepare and straighten the way of the Lord is really to prepare our hearts with conviction and motivation for change.  By the way, what kind of way that John the Baptist is referring to us? Metanoia, i.e. our willingness to change of hearts or in other terms our capacity for Repentance starting from ourselves, and then our neighbors.  (2) To feel and embrace the Lord’s Tuwid na Daan means to straighten our heart’s path.  What do I mean in saying this point?  In the gospel last Sunday, St. John the Baptist challenges us to prepare the way of the Lord.  Good preparation of the Lord’s path starts from our hearts.  If our hearts are not ready and willing to receive the Lord wholeheartedly, what is the sense of our waiting and our preparation for His coming?  How could we fully enjoy His presence with joy, peace, and prosperity if mediocrity and disinterestedness sways and controls our hearts?  (3) To feel and embrace the Lord’s Tuwid na Daan means be humble like Mary.  In the gospel for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Concepcion, we witnessed how Mary humbly accepted the angel’s Gabriel announcement that she will bear the Son of the Most High.  From that instance, Mary gives us a hint on how to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord, i.e. humility.  Humility is not about being inferior to someone who is superior, rather it’s about trusting to the providence of the Lord in spite of our weaknesses and unworthiness.  It’s also all about being true, transparent, and honest in front of the Lord who is gracious in mercy and bountiful in love.  So, in spite of our shortcomings, do we still believe that we can receive the Lord through humility?  Are we eager and keen to be humble like Mary as our way of preparing ourselves for the coming of the Lord?  Are we ready to strive for humility even though it’s demanding and challenging?

Indeed, Ano ang Tunay na Tuwid na Daan? (What’s the Real Right Path?).  Perhaps, you’re still thinking about a path that is not frustrating, convenient, progressing, dignified, and well-paved.  But, how about our hearts’ path today, does it follow God’s standards and measures in order for it to be a straight and right path for our lives?  Today, God only asks us three things in order that we may be able to achieve the right path that we are longing for; (1) To feel and embrace the Lord’s Tuwid na Daan means to prepare ourselves with a welcoming attitude, (2) To feel and embrace the Lord’s Tuwid na Daan means to straighten our heart’s path, and (3) To feel and embrace the Lord’s Tuwid na Daan means be humble like Mary.   With these, we pray that God may gave us strength and inspiration in doing these challenges as we prepare ourselves for His coming.

 

Lord, Please Let Me See

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Last Monday, I shared my insight about The Blind Beggar on the Gospel of Luke in front of my co-brothers.  Fortunately, The Blind Beggar on the Gospel of Luke is one of my favorite stories in the Bible that really moves me and makes me inspired and a little bit emotional.  Here’s what I shared to them;

“Lord, Please let me see.”

What it means to be blind?  If we will consult Medical Science, blindness is a disability and an impediment to the sight.  However, if we will consult a blind person, do we think what she/he will be saying jives on what the Medical Science describes? Absolutely not.  As a matter of fact, blind person’s description about blindness would be more appealing than what Medical Science describes because he/she experienced it.  I remember Hellen Keller.  Her blindness was one of her struggles in order to appreciate life’s blessings.  She really endured it with great pain and suffering.  Being impaired with blindness did not stop her to persevere, to appreciate her life courageously, and to move on.  She still continued her journey with steadfastness hoping to “see” the light of her life in spite of her darkness that discourages her to embrace happiness and joy in the midst of tensions and grief.

Having read Hellen Keller’s story gives me an idea what’s within the experience of the blind beggar in the gospel; rejection, angst, hopelessness, pain, suffering, depression, anxiety, remorse, and discouragement.  But, in spite of all these “evils”, he moved on and hearing the name of Jesus, without hesitation he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me”!  Although being rebuked by the people along the street, he shouted courageously all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me”!  What made the bind beggar not afraid of shouting the name of Jesus as Son of David despite the oppositions?  In the midst of tribulations and blindness, the blind beggar still identifies and recognizes Jesus’ role as Messiah; the one who will bring salvation to all humility, and the one who will bring recovery of sight to the blind like him.  Pondering this, his firm faith amidst his unpleasant situation gives me some realizations; (1) His firm faith leads him to recognize Jesus as the one and only “prime mover” of life, (2) His firm faith made him realize that Jesus is the only hope, and (3) His firm faith brought him into a new perspective and a new beginning which led Him to follow it and consider it as guide for his life.  What an irony! Considering blindness as a curse and shame became a blessing of disguise for the blind beggar by just saying “Lord, please let me see” as the expression of his firm faith.  Indeed, it was such a great blessing and relief on his part receiving the response of Jesus, “Receive your sight, your faith has save you.”

How about us who enjoy much the light?  How about us who are more fortunate than the blind beggar?  Do we still recognize Jesus in the light?  Do we consider Jesus as the light of our lives?  Out of darkness, the blind beggar saw the light and recognizes Jesus because of his firm faith, but as we look upon ourselves, why there’s still a difficulty for us to recognize Jesus as we enjoy the light?  These are some of the burning questions that boggled my mind as I pondered the richness of the gospel for today.  But, my reflection is this; one of the most difficult parts to face in our lives is our own blindness.  Yes indeed, we cannot deny the fact that we have our own blindness that is hard to get rid-off.  Our blindness is causes us to be pessimistic in life, to be grouchy individuals, self-centred, depreciative of other’s uniqueness, selfish, suspicious of others’ mistakes, and guess what, to be number one complainers of life’s discomforts and inconveniences.  But, amidst of all these things, there’s hope.  The blind beggar’s providential experience with Jesus gives us an assurance that experiencing the love and mercy of Jesus in spite of our own blindness is possible through firm faith.  Through firm faith we are loved by Jesus though we have our own blindness.  Through firm faith we are humbled in front of Him who is our source of reliance, our fortress, and our strength.  In the midst of our own blindness, let us never forget to perceive the goodness of Jesus, our source of hope, mercy, and love.  Let us open our own blindness to Him by saying, “Lord, please let me see”, and for sure He will say, “Receive you sight, for your faith has save you” with great love and mercy.

In conclusion, let us pray in solidarity to all the victims of violence around the world especially in Paris.  May the light and love of Jesus shines above against the emerging blindness that rules the world due to false ideologies and heartless principles which suggest such a propaganda called doom.

 

The Goodness in Sadness

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After watching Inside Out I am astounded and stunned by the way how the character coped up with her emotional instability. Sadness saved her from a miserable situation which led her to open up with her mother and father of what’s going on with her life. It’s good to reflect on that there’s goodness in sadness most especially when there are conflicts that we can’t understand inside. Why sadness? What makes sadness unique and helpful in realizing the importance of openness and humility in life? While pondering on the movie, I am deeply touched when she stopped the bus, went back to her father and mother, and opened up her situation to them. For me, that is the most important part of the movie, and on that instance I became aware about the goodness in sadness. Sadness gives depth and deep connection with others especially to those whom we loved most (our family, friends, and loved ones). Only through sadness that makes a crucial connection transform into a significant encounter that will really make us understand how important to consider a relationship with depth.

We don’t like and want to be sad. When we speak about sadness we tend to stay away from it because we don’t want to. We like always to feel happy and enjoy life at its fullest. But, have we realized that we cannot be happy without sadness? Have we also realized that only in sadness that we may be able to recognize true happiness and enjoyment in life? It’s an irony indeed that the only thing will help us to be saved from emotional unsteadiness is sadness. It’s only through sadness that we may be able to fathom, appreciate, understand, and apprehend the deepness of our being. Sadness knows and also teaches us how to take care of our beings. When we feel sad, it’s not a type of curse or bitterness but an opportunity or a motivation for us to understand what’s going on in our lives and to open up those things to those who understand us and care for us most especially our family. Let us not be afraid to face sadness in life. Accept it and learn from it because it is through it that will make us a better person and a better “we” in life. Sadness is not an enemy, but a friend that will lead us to say hello and to befriend with Happiness.

Restless Heart

Be-still-my-restlessnessThou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee

-St. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

Five years ago, I encountered this famous text of St. Augustine when I read his book, Confessions. Before, I just consider it as an insight or a simple thought that tells something about the reality of life. Now, as I revisited it once again, I realized that it has also relevant to my life as I am undergoing soul-searching in my pilgrimage towards real happiness, joy, and contentment. What a coincidence that as I am going through a tough and delicate self-introspection and self-pondering it resounds once again into my awareness which really caught my interest.

 I myself cannot deny the fact that it’s part of our nature to quest for happiness, contentment, and satisfaction in life. So, we strive hard and really do our best to achieve those things because we want a smooth-sailing journey in life. Who doesn’t want to experience a smooth-sailing journey in life? Even myself craves for it; a journey that is so calm, hassle-free, at ease, and pleasing. Unfortunately it’s not always the case. Even though you already reach the point that you’re already happy, contented, and satisfied in life there’s still an unavoidable feeling of longingness inside of our hearts for a missing piece. Without that missing piece, it seems happiness, contentment, and satisfaction is not enough in order to make our lives complete. This is what I am experiencing right now. To be honest, the greatest challenges in life is not all about facing our fears and wrestle on it, but rather it’s all about facing our heart’s restlessness with humility, sincerity, and acceptance. For me, this is the greatest struggle that I encounter in life. It’s hard to accept on my part, but I take it as a challenge and as a providential trial. I believe and also I am hoping that everything will be okay after this restlessness that I am experiencing now because God is at my side always ready and willing to be my refuge and strength.

MISERANDO ATQUE ELIGENDO

Palm-Sunday-Pictures-1024x512MISERANDO ATQUE ELIGENDO (He has pity on me and has chosen me) -Pope Francis

These are the words that popped in my mind as I reflect upon the readings and the gospel for the Palm Sunday yesterday.

I asked myself; Why? At first glance, it does not connect and jive to the thought and the message that I got in reflecting upon the yesterday’s readings and gospel. What does this motto of Pope Francis would like to express in me as the Holy Week begins? What is the connection of it to Jesus’ passion, suffering, and resurrection?

As I link up the readings and the gospel for the Palm Sunday yesterday, it tells about Jesus’ obedience to the will of His Father and his passion and suffering which presented into something significant and salvific for us believers and followers of Christ. He conspired by the chief priests, his own disciples betrayed him, his witnesses’ testimonies were flawed, the trial was politicized and unjust, yet because of intense love and mercy for us sinners he accepted all these though he was innocent to all the false allegations and accusations against him.

Hence, great and unconditional is the mercy and love of the Lord for all of us, and St. Paul testifies it in his Letter to the Philippians which he said; “Though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance; he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2: 6-9). He humbled himself– a phrase that is very striking and touching indeed as I let it speaks into my life.

He is God, but He humbled himself for the sake of loving me and us completely and unreservedly. How about me? Connecting Pope Francis words MISERANDO ATQUE ELIGENDO to Jesus’ passion, suffering, and death; one thing that I realized is Love that connects the two moving instances. The words of Pope Francis are the challenge of the Palm Sunday for me as I am now coming across to the ambiance and spirit of the Holy Week. Because of God’s mercy and compassion which He fulfilled on the cross, He pitied me and has chosen me to radiate His love for all especially those who are seeking for it.

As I reflect upon it, it’s a tough invitation coming from the Lord. It takes a lot of faith and self-emptying. But, this love is all about. If God sacrificed Himself for the sake of love, how about me who is just a tiny unique organism and sinner in front of the immensity of His mercy and compassion. Thus, Holy Week is moments for me to revitalize, refresh, and renew my commitment to God as His disciple. Indeed, the cross really disturbs me.

As I begin my Holy Week pilgrimage in silence, reparation, reconciliation, and contemplation may the Lord help me to abide in His love. May He also guide my thoughts, words, and actions through his care and kindness.