Today I witnessed a miracle.
A good friend, Lambert, was ordained a deacon. And God willing, he will be ordained a priest in June next year. Nothing really miraculous there.
Lambert was my contemporary in San Carlos Seminary. He was, in fact, several years my junior. We were at one time both in the editorial staff of Contemporary Studies, the official publication of San Carlos. Then, we both left the seminary. We both got married. We both pursued corporate careers. But he lost his wife to cancer some eight years ago. And after serious thought, he made up his mind to go back to his roots and see if he could still be a priest.
Lambert was already made – in worldly terms. He had a successful career, both as an executive and an entrepreneur. He had a happy family. Even as a widower, He kept his family close-knit. He could have just spent the rest of his years in leisure and contentment. But there was this persistent voice that was calling him to his original vocation.
God writes straight with crooked lines. It was a long and circuitous road but Lambert is right there now where God wants him to be. There could be many logical or rational or psychological or even social reasons to explain his decision. It is no miracle at all that he is on his way to becoming a priest, today his diaconate being an important step towards that end. Any determined and accomplished person, like Lambert is, can and will be able to achieve whatever he puts his mind and heart to. No big deal. Surely, he is not the first widower to be ordained a priest; nor would he be the last. Nothing extraordinary there. Nothing spectacular nor beyond belief.
And there lies the miracle for me. Lambert had it made. And yet, he chose to do differently. Life is not all about money or success or fame or even the ability to be different and make a difference. There is an alternative lifestyle possible that is not defined by success nor measured in money. And Lambert has chosen that lifestyle now. There can be achievements that do not depend on the adulation and praise of others but on what is deeply embedded in one’s heart and spirit. No fame, fortune or success can replace the what makes one’s heart beat. There is another, perhaps deeper and more meaningful, way of living out one’s life aside from the all too obvious choices the world has to offer. His choice may not be mine. But I am delighted and inspired that Lambert has shown me that there are other choices possible. Always. Choices and possibilities are always miracles for me.
As long as there are choices, there is hope. In a world that is so easily given to despair, any flickering of hope should be welcomed as a miracle of life.
After all these years, Lambert finally fulfills a profound longing that has been gnawing at his innermost. Everyone feels this deep-seated longing. A yearning, often ineffable, but always there. Persistent. Unrelenting. This longing is what brings out the best in people. Like, when they love. Or, when they create. Or, when they serve. Or, when they make themselves less so that others may become more. This giving and this sharing is what brings out the best and the finest in human beings. Lambert is getting a handle on that yearning and giving it flesh through his choice. Whatever brings out the best and the finest, whether in ourselves or in others, is a miracle.
As long as there is that undying longing in the human heart, there will be a need for people who will give expression to this yearning. In a world going blind to values and virtues, it is indeed a miracle when anyone would stand up and fight for these.
Eight years ago, Lambert and his children were devastated by the death of Vilma. Loving wife. Dutiful mother. And now, the three children have again been asked to give up and offer their father for a greater good. There is beauty in Vilma’s death because it made their family stronger. There is grace in their offering their father as a priest for the community of believers because generosity can be such a rare commodity these days. The dying and the giving up are transformed to become beauty and grace. That is a miracle too.
For us to be able face death without fear and give without feeling impoverished, there will always be a need for priests who will guide us along the way. Indeed, the miracle here is when we finally realize that it is giving that we receive and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.