Easter Ennui?

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Of late, some many things seem to be going wrong in so many places and among so many people, including myself. There is a feeling of lingering malaise in me but I am not really sad. With things going wrong, there is so much uncertainty and it seems like things can come ahead any time now and just blow up. I am worried but not really afraid. I try to see the brighter side of things but nothing seems to work. I am frustrated that something could and must be done but aren’t. But I am not really angry.

I was living just for the moment, living from one disappointment and frustration to the next one. Spiritual writers have always advised to live in the NOW. I do; but that is all I am holding to. No past to infuse meaning to my present. No future to to spur me to courageous and inspired action. I am here, unfeeling and uncaring what will happen next. Fr. Johnny Go captured what I was going through in his Easter reflections: I was losing hope.

Easter is a timely reminder that we are an Easter People, living in hope and secure in the belief that we have been saved. This faith is not about feeling good and feeling high. It is about choosing to listen to the Risen Lord. And his resurrection is out guarantee.

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Do Not Disturb: God At Work

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All is quiet now and there’s silence all around
They have killed the Lord and buried him in the ground.
The disciples have scampered in fear and confusion
Wondering whatever happened to all their ambition

Still they did not understand the things he taught to them
That he must suffer and die, this man from Bethlehem
His persecutors did not realize they had buried a seed
In three he’d rise again, he foretold this wondrous deed

When things are quiet and times seem dark
We tend to lose heart and we lose our spark
But often that’s when the Lord is busy at work
In the end, he surprises us with his handiwork

 

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Good Friday Good Feelings

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To many Jews during the time of Jesus, his death on the cross was the awful ending to an adventure gone terribly wrong. Here was an itinerant preacher who simply burst upon the scene, preaching repentance and the coming of the Kingdom of God. Very soon, he had thousands following him, wanting to witness the miracles that he performed and to hear the inspiring words that he spoke. But this did not sit well with the authorities, both political and religious. He was a blasphemer and a rabble-rousing rebel. For the sake of the nation, this Jesus must die the most ignominious death to teach would-be messiahs a lesson.

To his disciples, it was indeed a shameful ending to their misadventure with this man they called the Christ. Most of them, went scurrying off in fear and dejection. How could all the good that they have seen this man say and do come to such a terrible ending? But those who stayed with him soon realized this was the awesome beginning of a glorious finale like they have never seen.

Good Friday is about sin and the sinfulness of man, It is about our need for forgiveness for our failings, shortcomings, imperfections, weaknesses, We are all sinner in need of forgiveness. Even as he hung on the cross, he was still speaking of forgiveness. Even as he was gasping for breath with great difficulty, each breath was a sigh full of love and compassion – for others.

When one is nailed unjustly on the cross, the last thing on one’s mind is forgiveness, More like a cry for vengeance or justice. Indeed, many of us would do everything to avoid the cross. And we find it even harder to forgive.

Men today are not wont to forgive. Today, men have found a way to justify anything and everything they have done – right or wrong. The sense of sin and morality is all abut dead, If people can make it sound all right or even rational, or of it feels good; then it must be all right. There is no more sin, no more right or wrong. So who needs to repent and ask for forgiveness? Man in his pride now feels he is above morality and can just make rules as he goes along. There is no more sin.

Or, we would swing to the other extreme. We keep on doing the same sin. What’s the use of repentance if I keep on doing the same thing over and over. Or, sometimes, we feel we are all in the same boat and who are others to judge me? Or who am I to judge them? Since we are all sinners, let’s just call it quits. No harm. No injury. No sin. No need for forgiveness.

This is exactly what Good Friday is reminding me about. I am a sinner in need of repentance and forgiveness. And the Good News is –  that man on the cross, he says we can have a second chance, and a third, and a fourth. In fact, seventy times seven times. And the story does not end on the cross. It finds it glorious fulfillment in the empty tomb. And believers know what that means. Don’t we?

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A Cosmic Maundy Thursday

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It’s Maundy Thursday. Everything has ground to a halt in the Philippines. The big city is empty and all the streets are practically devoid of traffic. People have hied off to some coasts to refresh their tired bodies or to some churches to renew their flagging spirits. They have gone away to some resort to relax or to some retreat to reflect. Others are off to some beaches to enjoy the sun or to some basilicas to encounter the Son. And many will cap the night with the traditional visita de iglesias, paying homage to the Blessed Sacrament.

It is the just another ordinary day in secular America. People are at work; children are in school; and it is business as usual for most people. Some will find a church later in the evening to attend the Holy Thursday rites, commemorating the Last Supper.

But in the face of these contrasting scenarios, I am thinking – again – of our interconnectedness to one another and to the rest of creation. A sandstorm in the desert lifts up billions of tone of dust into the atmosphere; then torrential rains dump this into some dried up plain, causing an explosion of microscopic life forms which attract flamingoes to make it their nesting grounds. Millions of monarch butterflies migrate south of the border when flowers are in full bloom, adding color and beauty to people’s celebration of  Dia de los Muertos. People marking the Holy Week to acknowledge somehow that they is more to life that just the ordinary and routine we easily get accustomed to.

Life on earth has undergone at least five known mass extinction events. And yet, somehow life persists. Life, once it has come into being, never dies. The energy that sustains life is also eternal. It may change shape and form; but matter is lasting and indestructible. The light, the simplest form of energy is likewise never ending. There there is light, there is never darkness. These are truths proven and accepted by science.

These are the truths we celebrate during the Holy Week. Easter is about our life being eternal. Death is an illusion for we go on living forever. Love, the light that energizes life, will likewise eventually conquer evil. Just as light dispels the darkness, love will triumph over evil and hatred. The celebration of Love – the new commandment – on Maundy Thursday is both cosmic and deeply personal for we all participate in the goodness and love that brought life and existence into our universe and being.

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Notre Dame de Paris is Burning

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The whole watched, riveted in grief and disbelief, as the historic Notre Dame Cathedral was engulfed by a great conflagration. Many could not help avoid connecting the tragedy to the general breakdown of morals throughout the world: the blatant lies and duplicity that leaders foist upon their own people, the sexual abuse scandal in high places in the Church, the unrelenting greed and rapacity of businesses, the shameless behavior of celebrities and the famous. It looked like God was ready to abandon the world. Indeed, people was asking and wondering what all this meant. Is it indeed one of the signs of the times portending the end of times?

Among the faithful, it was not lost among them that this happened at the beginning of the Holy Week. It is a clarion call to repentance and the conversion from our sinfulness. It is striking that the secular society that France has become would recoil in grief and loss seeing the venerable historic cathedral burn down to ashes. Somehow the event seems to have awaken an sensitivity for the ineffable that has lain dormant in the soul of France for a very long time. Indeed, even as the fire was raging people from all walks of life and of various religious and political persuasions gathered around the vicinity in prayers and hymns. Something was stirring in their innermost selves. Someone was moving within them.

Fire is destructive but it is also only when men learn to harness fire that we lifted ourselves above the rest of the animal kingdom. We gained our civilization in the crucible of destructive fire. In the paradox of human existence, Christ ,whose passion, death, and resurrection we commemorate during Holy Week, has shown us that through darkness we come upon light; through death we come upon life; through love we overcome all.

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Words and Reality

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Words and their power are what make humans who they are,
Our capacity to communicate through words has enables us to build civilization.
But often, human language is  inadequate to express
what we truly feel and know deep within us.
Like. we do not even have enough words to capture and describe
all the possible shades of colors in a rainbow.
Indeed, it is also true that a picture can be worth a thousand words.

Like, “death” is a word that conveys finality and the end of life.
That is why we often see death as a fearsome prospect.
And yet we know that life is not taken away;
but rather our existence is transformed into another dimension.
Metamorphosis may seem more like it;
but it does not quite capture the sadness that death often brings.

A baby, if it were already conscious and and able to decide,
would never want to leave the comforts and safety of the womb.
And yet it must be violently expelled from the womb
to come into a fuller and more complete life.
We have a better term to describe a seed dying –
it germinates, leaving its skin behind to give rise to a new plant.

As the Holy Week begins, these are the thoughts that keep playing in my mind.
“I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!”

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Our Interconnectedness in the One

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
~ John Muir, the great American Naturalist.

Today, after a long hiatus, Anabelle and I went on a hike at the Uvas Canyon county Park with our good friends Edwin and Jijing. And indeed, we recieved more than what we sought during the time we spent in the foothills of the Sante Cruz mountains in Morgan Hill. We followed a brook uphill and were soothed by the gentle murmuring of water coming down the rocky slopes. We were treated by a series of water falls, not of thundering torrents like those of Niagra or Iguazu falls, but by the soothing, murmuring sounds of a gentle brook. The water brings life to all those touched by it, bearing nourishments and nutrients to make everything come to life.

It was an experience that is at once refreshing and deeply spiritual. I felt connected not only to all living things but to everything that exists. It brings to mind another favorite quotation of mine, this time from Francis J. Thompson: “All things by immortal power. Near of far, to each other linked are, that thou canst not stir a flower without troubling of a star.”

Teilhard de Chardin was a great man of science and a man of deep faith. He did not see any conflict between his faith in the Risen Lord and the science that he was doing: he was a respected paleontologist. He contributed to the understanding of evolution at a time when many Christians still found the theory offensive to their faith.

His research on evolution served to deepen his faith. He saw Christ as the apex of evolution, the Omega Point towards which all creation is converging. He called this evolutionary convergence the Christogenesis. He explained that the universe is constantly evolving: from the beginning cosmogenesis (the coming into being of all the stars and planets and matter in the universe – from the Big Bang) to biogenesis (the emergence of life forms from the star dust of cosmogenesis) to noogenesis (the development of consciousness and intelligence among living things) towards Christogenesis.

Through these stages of development, Christ brings us eventually to the fullness of creation unto himself. Everything that is, will eventually go back to the Source.

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