Doors, Portals, and Thresholds

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I love doors, portals, thresholds.
I love even more what they open up to.
There is mystery behind every door,
an adventure beyond every portal,
and a new level of being beyond
any threshold.
Doors, portals, thresholds.
They are the visuals for the questions
that often play in my mind.
And answers are the passage from one side to the other.

Like, I have often realized that there is no compelling reason why I should be here. There is no irreducible mathematical formula the answer to which would be my particular existence.

In the face of such simple fact, science tells me I am a totally random event, which conclusion I instinctively and intuitively refuse to accept. I love science for the answers and explanations it can give me. I cling to my faith for things I cannot answer nor explain. Just as a flower reaches out to the sun, finding life and nourishment in its warmth, I reach out for the unreachable, seek to know the unknowable and dare to dream the impossible. It is crossing the threshold.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Or in science for that matter.

There is always deep inside me a desire, a yearning for significance, for meaning, for making an important contribution or doing something great and heroic. At the same time, I am often overwhelmed by my own insignificance, smallness and ordinariness. ‘Small is Beautiful’ is the title of a best-selling book that tried to re-write economics as if people mattered. In human health, micro-nutrients have been proven essential to overall well-being. In nanotechnology, micro-bots are fast becoming the trend. Man is but a speck of star dust in the cosmic scheme of things. And when Christ came, he chose to work with the small and insignificant people of his times: the fisher-folks, ordinary workers, tax collectors, sinners and prostitutes. He went out of his way to seek out the least, the lost and the last. But he transformed them all and showed what he can do with what is small and considered insignificant.

I keep on seeking, therefore I open doors.
I keep on yearning, therefore I go through portals.
I long for forever and the fullness of life, therefore i pass through thresholds.

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The Greatest Commandment

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“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.”

 

The greatest of all the commandments.
The noblest of all human emotions.
The most powerful of all human motives.
The most neglected of all human powers.
And we have have experienced this:
in the embrace of a loved one,
in the warmth of mother’s bosom,
in the tender crock of father’s arm,
in the safety and comfort of the family.

Just imagine what would happen if love were to reign supreme:

“Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.
He will dwell with them and they will be his people
and God himself will always be with them as their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes,
and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain,
for the old order has passed away.”

And yet, the world is a mess.
Because we find it hard to love those who hate us.
We refuse to turn the other cheek, instead we hit back.
We cannot forgive those who have wronged us; we want revenge.
We are too proud to ask for forgiveness from those we look down upon.
We cannot give away what we have afraid there’d be nothing eft for us.
We seek our own pleasures and comforts and to hell with the rest of humanity.

But there are those who dare and struggle.
There are those who give and not count the cost.
They struggle and  fight without heeding the wounds.
They toil and not seek for rest.
They labor and ask not for reward.
All these they do, because it is the will of the Savior who taught them how to love.

And with the One who sits on the throne,
They are able to make all things new,
bringing about a new heaven and a new earth.

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Some Things To Deeply Ponder About

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So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord.”
And behold, the Lord was passing by!
And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains
and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord;
but the Lord was not in the wind.
And after the wind an earthquake,
but the Lord was not in the earthquake.
 
After the earthquake a fire,
but the Lord was not in the fire;
and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing.
 
When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle
and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave.
And behold, a voice came to him and said,
“What are you doing here, Elijah?”
 

I am still trying to digest and make sense out of the results of the elections recently held in our country. And one of the nagging questions in my mind is how could have I totally misread the sentiments and desires of our people. Most of the people in my circles felt the same way I do. How could we have totally misread the situation?

A deeper bugging question is how could even the church have misread the signs of the times? Many priests and bishops were very clear in telling people how to vote and giving guidelines in their choice of candidates. People were talking of the Catholic vote which was estimated to be in the millions, enough to elect any candidate for national office if delivered. It totally fizzled out. The flock did not listen to their shepherds. Maybe, there was cheating. Maybe, there was a manipulation of the voting machines or the transmittal of the voting results. But the more bothersome possibility and question is whether the Church leadership had been a total disconnect between the flock and the shepherds.

Maybe the followers were not listening to the the leaders. But the bigger maybe is that maybe the leaders have never been listening to their followers but have instead only been telling them what to do. And that can be the source of the disconnect. Is the Church leadership listening to the flock? I believe it does or at least it tries to. But why the disconnect? Maybe they have been listening to the wrong voices. Or looking in the wrong places. Or reading the wrong signs.

I also need to ponder deeply who am I really listening to? Where do I look for God’s will for me? What signs do I pay attention to? Do I listen to or even notice that little voice being the thunder and over the earthquake? I may be totally missing God’s message for me.

Posted in Environment, Faith, Philippines/Filipino, Spirituality | Tagged , | 2 Comments

The Morning After

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The Moon on the night of the elections

The morning after the elections felt like Black Saturday: dejected, bitterly disappointed, feeling defeated. Like the two disciples on their way to Emmaus, I was feeling lost and disbelieving how things has turned out they way they did, hoping that “it was He who was going to redeem Israel.” Instead, not one – not a single one – of those I had look to for some sense of hope for the country did not make it at all. But defeated and dejected, the two disciples soon realized that in the gathering darkness of the evening, there was a light that was showing them the way. It was not the light of the moon that shone that night. But the light was walking with them all along.

Christ was not the Messiah that the disciples expected who would liberate them from the Romans. In fact, Christ did not come preaching the downfall of the Roman Empire. Many people enjoyed the peace, security and prosperity that  Pax Romana afforded. And it would be another five centuries before this empire would fall. In the meantime, one Roman emperor after another tried to exterminate the nascent Christian churches in their realm. It was tough being a Christian then. We are probably sissies compared to the early Christians. And yes, many of them came from the Class CDE of the society then.

This is not clutching at straws. It is the purification and strengthening of my faith in the risen Lord during this Easter Season. Just as painful as Black Saturday is, I have been promised the joys and glories of Easter morn.

Thus, because of my Easter Faith, I shall choose to see opportunities to love and to serve rather than the obstacles to life. I shall focus on what I can do and I can control. I shall take this time as an opportunity to be strengthened and purified in what I believe and stand for. In the bleakness of Black Saturday, I shall see that there is a light that is showing me the way. And the light is with me. The light is within me. and because the Lord is with me, I am the light that he was speaking of.

Posted in Discipleship, Encounter, Life, Philippines/Filipino | Tagged , | 2 Comments

For the Motherland

Yesterday was about our love for our mothers.
Today is about our love for the motherland as Filipinos troop to the polls.
The other day I saw this picture posted on Facebook.
And I realized that it captures how we are today as a nation,
How divided we are as a people for reasons often very shallow and flimsy.

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Some people see the pink and white. Others saw green and grey. Still others saw both. And there were those who saw pink and white and then green and grey depending on the time of day or how they were feeling or even whom they were with. I myself saw green and grey. And now while I am typing this, I am seeing pink and white. And yet, we are all looking at the same picture.

We Filipinos have and love the same country the Philippines. And yet, we see and experience her in many different ways. Some see her progressing and happy. Others see her as miserable and in great troubles. Others say we are doing very well. Others say we are going to the dogs. Still others think we are doing okay but could do better. And being the emotional people that we are, we cannot seem to set aside our differences to work for the common good. Instead, our emotions drive us to see our differences and causing the deep divisions among us. This is so sad.

We have but one country. What will it take for us to work together for our country? We have a people that is among the most talented in the world. We have a country so richly blessed in natural resources in spite of the fact that we have been despoiling her all these years. We have a culture of kindness and hospitality that is the envy of other nations. We have a nationals character that is so welcoming and comforting that visitors love to come and stay and we when abroad are broadly welcomed and often invited to stay. And yet, we are forever caught in a catch-up game with our neighboring countries when it comes to economic progress.

I find great consolation in my Christian faith. And today’s Gospel reading somehow lifts up my spirit, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”  Yet, when I look around, I ask “Is this the abundant life that has been promised us?”

I am looking and waiting for answers.

 

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God Is Love And Love is Spelled M-O-T-H-E-R

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Today is Mothers Day. If God is Love, then love must be spelled M-O-T-H-E-R.

I have always appreciated the others in my life. I guess that is one of the precious lessons I learned from Ima. As a young student, I loved falling in love with love, the concept. It was with Anabelle that I learned and experienced what true love is.

It always brings a smile to my face remembering falling in love with Anabelle: butterflies in the stomach, lump in my throat, difficulty in breathing, tightness in the chest, wet clammy hands. I loved the feeling. Today, these are the very symptoms that my doctor asks me to look out for to check whether I am having a heart attack! Over the years, I have learned that love, more than the emotion, is a decision; that more than the thrill of romanticism is the realism of daily renewing that vow and commitment to love. Then, love abides; it stays; and there is abiding joy – warm, shimmering, comforting.

Love indeed is a choice. It is a decision. Loving Anabelle has been the best decision ever in my life. One very close friend once remarked accurately: “You cannot count your blessings without starting with her.” My blessings do not stop with her though. If I continue counting my blessings I have to count next the many friends we have – many small circles and communities of kindred spirits and like-minded souls. Friends who have witnessed the flowering of our young love. Friends who have journeyed with us as we grew our respective families. Friends who shared our victories and defeat as we carved our careers. Friends who joined us in our spiritual searching. Friends with whom we served together. Friends who have always been there celebrating the milestones in our lives through the coming of our children, birthdays, graduations, weddings and now -full circle – the coming of the grandchildren. Friends who will forever be in our hearts for they have changed us for the better. Thank God for all our friends

Christ’s Gospel of Love is all-inclusive: everyone is welcome and nothing is ever held back in the giving, even life itself. And yet in many places, believers are often excluded, ridiculed and sometimes persecuted. Christians are the most persecuted group in the world today. The sad thing is that many professed Christians have done their own share of excluding and persecuting others – today and many times in the past. But for our survival as a species, I believe and pray that men learn to live in love. Even Economics, which used to be based on the principle of enlightened self-interest, which is a fancy word for greed and selfishness, is now talking about all-inclusive growth and sustainable development which are the current politically correct words for love and caring – very Christian principles. The world and everyone in it knows that love is the only way we can live as humans.And we knew that the very first moment we felt our mothers’ all embracing and comforting love in the womb. I imagine that the Child Jesus first learned about love in the bosom of Mother Mary.

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Bread and Wine, Body and Blood

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Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you have no life in you.
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life,
and I will raise them up on the last day;
for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.”

Then many of his disciples who were listening said,
“This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life
and no longer accompanied him.

Even today, these words are hard to accept. We may have heard them too often to still be shocked by them. But, they are shocking words: eat my flesh, drink my blood. Oh, Christ meant those words symbolically. The bread and wine symbolize his flesh and blood. No, when he took the bread, he said “This is my body.” And when he took the wine, he said, “This is my blood.” Oh, we are just reliving and remembering what he did at his Last supper. No, we are told as an article of faith that the bread is the body of Christ and the wine is his blood.

It is incredible normal people do not eat the flesh nor drink the blood of other persons. It is irrational and does not stand to reason. It is idiocy for our senses say otherwise. And yet, this is what we have chosen to believe.

Incredible, irrational and idiotic it may seem, it is nothing compared to the the ways of the world that would kill and harm others just to stay in power. Or, to a world where people go hungry or even die of hunger because others have amassed more of the world’s resources beyond their needs and simply refuse to share. Or, a world where people are fed lies and untruths to foist upon people a reality of their own making and to their own selfish advantage.

It is incredible but Christ’s followers would respond to hatred with love, to violence with forgiveness, and to judgement with acceptance. It is irrational but believers in Christ would do good to those who hate them, pray for those who persecute them and love their enemies. It is idiotic but Christians would willing give up their lives so that others may live, be there for the oppressed and marginalized when everyone else have walked away.

His words are hard to accept and his commandment of love is even hard to practice. But those who have taken their belief in him seriously have lived heroic and saintly lives. Unworthy though I may be, I still aspire to be in their numbers when they come marching in.

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