This is Saint Andrew’s Cross.
Today is the Feast Day of Saint Andrew, the first apostle to be called by Jesus.
He is the patron saint of Scotland, Russia and Greece, places known for rebellions and revolutions.
Today is also dedicated to Andres Bonifacio, the leader of the Philippine Revolution,
He was named after Saint Andrew.
Followers of Christ have often been seen as rebels and revolutionaries.
A serious reading of the gospels will show that the teachings of Christ
are radical, counter-cultural and subversive of the existing order.
He once declared:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth.
I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
In my youth, full of idealism and fired with romantic enthusiasm,
I was enamored by Christ the rebel, the revolutionary.
Today, in my old age, I struggle to keep pace with this same Jesus
as I try to live by his words.
Today, I wish for my life to be gentler, kinder, more tender and more loving;
but I am also still inspired by the Christ
who, in righteous anger, cleared the temple of those
who would desecrate the place;
or who willingly laid down his life for his friends.
I love nature.
Its beauty is an endless source of inspiration and stimulation for me.
Everything in nature is governed by the laws of nature.
What goes up must come down.
Everything breaks down or dies eventually.
Every living thing is driven by and blindly follows its instincts.
There is beauty in the sunflower always turning its face to the sun.
But it is pure natural law and instinct that makes it do that.
It is autumn and trees shed leaves in a wild profusion of colors.
Winter comes and birds and butterflies migrate to warmer climes.
Even the cells and organs in my body are driven and governed by the laws of nature.
Antibodies are automatically mobilized when my body is invaded by pathogens. Whenever I eat, digestive juices and enzymes are secreted to process my food intake.
My body naturally repairs and makes itself whole again when I rest and go to sleep.
And yet the sum total of all these cells and organs, which is the person that is me,
has the freedom NOT to be driven by instincts.
When I get hungry, I can choose not to eat,
or I can choose what to eat, or how much to eat.
When I get tired, I can choose to rest or go on working to finish any task at hand.
When in heat, animals just succumb to their sexual drives.
I can sublimate mine.
While everything else eventually breaks down and dies,
I shall live forever.
This may sound hard to believe to some, or even many.
But my freedom is one sure sign I shall live forever.
Thanksgiving is all about gratitude for all our blessings.
So much to be thankful for.
Generosity is the natural companion and complement to gratitude.
Life is indeed a great blessing we should be thankful for.
Unmerited, unexpected, unasked for.
To show real gratitude for the gift of life is to be utterly generous:
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to seek any reward.
Generosity begins not with what I have,
for what I have I can easily lose;
but it begins with what I am inside and who I am,
for it is only myself that I can truly give.
Generosity is measured not by what I give away but by what I keep for myself.
For I can give away from my abundance or even sufficiency.
True generosity happens when even that I can’t afford to give, I give away
and not hold back by keeping some comfort or security for myself.
If I can live with small amounts and simple things,
by reining in my wants and desires,
I will have more that I can share with others.
Generosity springs from poverty of spirit,
which does not mean being poor as having nothing to give
but keeping one’s needs small and simple that I may have more to give.
No one is so poor or so bereft of gifts that he has nothing to give and to share.
Often the things that are really appreciated and sought by others are not material things;
like a smile, a touch, time spent together, company, presence, just being there.
And the more I flex my generosity muscles, the more generous I become.
When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people
putting their offerings into the treasury
and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.
He said, “I tell you truly,
this poor widow put in more than all the rest;
for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”
~ Luke 21:1-4
Life is the greatest gift of all.
Unexpected. Undeserved. Unmerited.
Given to us freely – in love, with love, for love.
It is the wellspring of all the other gifts in our life.
Today, I am specially thankful for the gift of life.
If there is one thing I have learned in life,
It is that life is not meant to be lived alone.
It is meant to be spent in company and in community.
I am thankful for all the persons and relationships in my life
who have given me joy and happiness,
who have made me strong and wise,
who have filled my days with meaning and love,
who have made my life-journey the wonderful and awesome adventure it has been.
Today is the day I pause to count our blessings
and be profoundly thankful for all the gifts and blessings that have come my way.
Often, I get blind sided by my misplaced wants and inordinate desires.
I forget the blessings I have received and continue to receive.
Thanksgiving Day is the opportune time to pause, relish and truly appreciate
‘my one wild and precious life’
and the Source of it all,
the Presence who gives everything as gift.
‘It is right to give Him thanks and praise.’
I enjoy recalling memories of the past, both happy and sad,
how these have brought color into my life
and helped me become the person I that I am today.
I still have my dreams and aspirations for the future –
these are the people and things why I would get up in the morning.
But memories are in the past and are no more;
they exist only in my mind and in my heart.
My dreams and aspirations are in the future and are not yet;
they exist only in my imagination and in my will.
The only reality I truly have and can work upon is the present,
my here and now.
Life is a great gift and it exists only in the present.
Everything I am and everything I have is but the present.
Sure, I got here because of where I was in the past
and it is from here that I will walk into my future.
But everything that happens to me happens here and now.
Here is the best time to be happy.
Now is the best time to be good.
I relish the present moment with deep gratitude and heartfelt thanksgiving.
I make this present moment count like it were my only moment.
This present moment is my eternity as well.
Everything in the universe is in constant movement
from the smallest quark to the biggest black hole.
For some, the movements are random and chaotic like sub-atomic particles.
For others, including myself, there is a certain beat, rhythm,
almost a like song or a melody that goes with the movement
– the hymn of the universe.
And somehow, somewhere, there is interconnectedness in all the movements
so that the cries of a baby aborning or aborted
triggers the death throes of an exploding supernova.
And all of this beauty and awesomeness will go on forever.
O God, Creator of all that exists,
You created me in your image and likeness.
In the fullness of time, Your time,
You will bring me to completion and perfection,
when I shall share in Your eternal life,
beyond this time and space I now live in.
You are the God of all that exists.
You are the God of the living.
Speed and noise seem to be essential elements of people’s lives today.
When people want something, they often want it now.
So we have instant versions of practically everything.
Yet it took billions of years to prepare the earth
before it became a hospitable place for humans to live and thrive in.
It takes years for a seed to grow and bear fruits.
It takes nine months for a mother to be blessed with the gift of a new life.
People today cannot stand silence.
In practically every home, there is often
at least one TV set or radio or a component system
playing continuously even if no one is really watching or listening.
It seems to me that people are afraid
that in the silence they will hear just their inner voice.
Prayer is about slowing down and being silent.
Prayer is putting aside for the moment
all the wants and desires that drive me daily.
Prayer is stilling all the noise outside to listen to the voice within me.
In prayer, I encounter who I truly am
and Him who is my Source.
In prayer, I come to know the person that I am,
the persons who are important and have touched my life,
the gifts that have been given me,
and the Gift-giver whose kindness, mercy and generosity knows no bounds.
That is why I pray.