The Shit Hole We’re In

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Once, there was a toddler that fell into a shit hole and he was crying and crying. The people around gathered and tried to get him out. Some suggested to drop a rope or a ladder but the toddler wouldn’t know how to climb out. Others said to use a giant scooper but where to get the scooper? Still others said that someone should go down to bring the toddler out but no one wanted to get dirtied going into the stinky and filthy shit hole. As they were discussing, a man jumped into the shit hole scooped up the baby and it was now easy for the others outside to help them out.

This is the image of the Incarnation that Fr. Chito shared with us the other day during the mass for our small group at the seminary reunion for retired priests. God could have just dropped us a rope or a ladder to get us our of the shit hole we have dug ourselves into. He could just have simply scooped us out of that filth and mud. No, he jumped into the hole, joined us in the mud, and took us out into the light. Such is God’s love for us. he did it out of love and with joy – for us.

As for the man who jumped into shit hole, he was fuming mad looking for the guy who pushed him.

The world has never seen so much wealth and luxury as today. People think that comfort and leisure are theirs by birthright. There is always the tendency to take thing for granted. And everywhere and everyone has this feeling of entitlement. Life had never been this easy and pleasurable. Even preachers proclaim a gospel of prosperity.

Yet, life has never meant to be easy. It is meant to be deep like a hole, shared like rescuing a toddler out of the shit hole, and joyful like when one has served and saved another. God did not come in splendor and majesty. He came as a little baby born in very austere and spartan circumstances.

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Snippets of a Conversation

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I dreamt I was having this conversation in my dream last night.

“Thank you, Lord, for all the blessings you have sent my way. You have given me more than I deserve. My heart is overflowing with gladness and joy.”

“You’re welcome,” he said, “But I have in mind of trying something different.”

“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening,” I boldly replied.

“You have been having it good so far, right?” said he.

“Yes, Lord, and I can’t thank you enough,” said I.

“What if I took away the material comforts that makes your life so comfortable?”

“Lord, even if your were to take half of what I have, nay even one third or one fourth, I would still find reasons to be happy and deeply grateful to you,” I said in reply.

And then, morning broke. And then the reality came to me that I was dealing with a money problem that was so sticky it irritated me like a grain of sand in my shoe. It was totally irritating. I know I can pay it but I get the feeling I m being taken for a ride and I can’t seem to do anything.

And then, I got another collection notice. I was being dunned for a liability I do not owe. Sure, I can prove it is not mine but it takes so much effort. And then I broke down. What? You, who would gladly lose most of what you have, can’t handle these little bumps on the road?

“Lord, help me. My boat is sinking,” I was back to the conversation I was having in my dream. But this time in real life.

And he did not answer.

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Our Lady of Guadalupe

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Today is the Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe. In all the authenticated Marian apparitions, our Lady always chose to show herself to poor and simple people like Juan Diego, on Tepeyac Hill and asking them to deliver her messages. Today, the sight of her apparitions are among the top tourist/pilgrimage destinations in the world, often with opulent and magnificent churches and other structures. The poor and simple original visionaries could not have imagined nor expected what these places have become.

It is a far cry from how the world would have done it. The world would work through the rich and powerful, probably call for a press conference to launch a great campaign or an ambitious project. God works through poor and simple folks to serve as his emissaries or as they are properly called – prophets. These folks are usually not believed and even scoffed at. In the case of our Lady’s apparitions, the most difficult to convince and often the last to believe are Church authorities themselves. The most skeptical of the Resurrection were – you guessed it right! – the Church authorities of those times, the Sanhedrin.

Oh how God confounds the wisdom of the world with His folly for He often speaks through the poor to proclaim His Word. Thus, the song of Mary reverberates through the ages:

He has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

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Praying For Hope

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Two persons looking at the same picture can see two completely different things. One person may see the dark clouds foreboding a coming storm. Another one will see the interesting interplay of dull and vibrant colors.

I have some friends, both on Facebook and off, who have such a rosy outlook in life. They always see the positive side of things and the goodness there is in people. Oh, they have their share of problems and misfortunes; but they’d see the bright side of such events and all the good that has come out of their previous mishaps.

I also have some friends who bitch and complain just about everything and anything, all the time. Nothing good nor positive things ever seem to happen in their lives. And when some good things do come; they look at them with suspicion and try to see the catch somewhere. They live their days in continuous gloom and portending doom.

We see what we seek. And from the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks. When we spill our cup, what pours out is what is in the cup. When we take the spills in our life, what comes out is what our hearts and minds are already full of.

Can we choose to be positive or negative? Or, are we naturally of positive or negative disposition. It seems to me that positive people find it easier to be hopeful. Is hope then something we choose to do? Or, is it like faith, a gift?

Whatever, I pray for the gift of Hope.

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What Are You Waiting For?

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Waiting is part of being human.
The longing and yearning somehow humanizes us.
There is something about life today though that is averse to waiting.
We want everything now: instant gratification.
That explains a lot of the anger, anxiety and ambivalence we see today.

I remember watching Becket’s “Waiting for Godot” and experiencing all that angst.
What if God-ot never comes?
What is there is no God-ot?
What is he comes and I do not recognize him?
What am I suppose to do when he comes?
What am I really waiting for?
Why?
It is questions like these that make us human.

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Prophets And Hope

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The world today is in a very sorry mess. There are more things to be unhappy about than there are to be joyful. If there was indeed a good and all-loving God, one is tempted to ask, “Why doesn’t God fix it?” If I were him, I’d probably say, “Abort! Abort!” I would rain down fire and brimstone on this terrible mess, burn it to ashes and then wash it all away with one gigantic tsunami.

But our God is a God of second chances. God respects our free will. He will allow us to make decisions. And he constantly tells us, “You are worth one more try.” And more than just one time, he has shown that he can draw out goodness out of the most horrible situation.

God sends messengers who constantly remind us to repent, turn back away from our sinful ways, return to God’s loving embrace. But quite often, they are not believed and when their message becomes so believable, they can be no longer ignored, they are arrested and killed. They are called prophets:

A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

And through out the ages, the prophets also proclaim what God has in store for us:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

These are no promises of wealth, power and fame. But the fulfillment of what make us human. This is the foundation of my hope.

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Mary, The Prophet

 

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“In every generation, there has to be some fool who will speak the truth as he sees it.”
~ Boris Pasternak

Mary has many title with which we honor her: Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces, Madonna, Blessed Mother. But hardly ever as a Prophet.

Prophets are important persons in the Bible. The usual view of prophets are persons who can foretell the future. I But in the words of Pasternak, they are “fools who speak the truth as they see it.” They see truth clearly and they see the consequences when truth is debased. They see clearly God’s will and plan and can tell its unfolding. And people believe they can see the future when all they do is to speak the truth as it is. And one often has to be a fool to speak the truth, specially if it is contrary to what those in power believe. Just look at John the Baptizer and Jesus himself.

Mary spoke the truth as she saw it. In her song, the Magnificat, she declares the truth and the plan and will of God for his people:

He has mercy on those who fear Him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

In response to God’s call and will, her response was the response of all the prophets who came before her: “May it be done unto me according to thy word.”

In our times, specially now, I hold dear and close to my heart the prophetic words of Mary – that God will scatter the the proud and cast down the mighty who oppress and abuse the humble and the poor whom he will lift up and fill with good things. her words are as relevant and meaningful today as they were thousand of years ago. Her actions are are right path then; they are still now. Goodness will always triumph over evil. light over the darkness and life over death. This truth will set us free and will give us hope. And the hope deep in our hearts will strengthen out faith.

 

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