Nurturing Connections

Each one of us is given an opportunity to inspire and empower the people we interact with. They will feel the concern and care that emanate from you. We have a responsibility to everyone we meet to ensure that they become better persons after our paths have crossed. Have you thought of how you nurture relationships with your love ones?

Are You Still Weeping?

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?”  Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rab-bo’ni!” (which means Teacher)”   (Jn. 20 : 15 -16)

Are you still weeping? You shouldn’t be. You should be rejoicing. As Easter people, we have many reasons to be happy! The King has risen from the dead! Do you doubt His resurrection?  You shouldn’t! Have faith!  Believe before you doubt!

In the days of the Easter week, the homilies at the San Miguel Chapel preached of the many reasons to be happy. People who live in faith are at peace, not because they don’t have problems but because they know the Lord is alive and is amongst them. They are joyful and happy. Fr. Greg Bicomo shared about two people he met during the Holy Week, one who was crying to death over a relatively simple problem, and another one, who had a much, much bigger problem but is still peaceful and hopeful, because, as she said, “I am hopeful because I have the Lord”.  Yes, when we have the Lord with us, we can handle any problem, no matter how difficult. And we don’t worry because we believe it to be true 100%!

This Sunday the Catholic Church celebrated the Second Sunday of Easter, also known as the Divine Mercy Sunday. On this date, Pope Francis canonized St. John XIII and St. John Paul II.  Two popes who led the Church in difficult times. One a “liberal” and one a “conservative”. While I was a young student in Cebu, I had the privilege of seeing then Pope John Paul II during his motorcade. Just like many of us who had that opportunity, I was in awe, seeing the face of the Vicar of Christ.  Yet, we don’t need a life-changing experience to witness for God. Every day, we have many encounters with the Lord, but it’s only that we don’t recognize him in these events. Just like Mary Magdalene, who thought he was the gardener (Jn. 20: 15), the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk. 24: 16), or the appearance to the disciples, when they thought he was a ghost (Lk. 24: 37).  Many come to us for help, and yet we turn a blind eye or a deaf ear. We haven’t remembered or we choose to forget what He said, “as often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me” (Mt. 25:40). Encountering the sick in the hospital or the beggar down the road is also an encounter with the Lord. Just like Mary Magdalene who said, “I have seen the Lord!” (Jn. 20: 18), may we also recognize Jesus in the poor and the needy of our society.

Let us not wait for the Lord to appear for us to believe in Him. He has shown himself to us many times and yet our unbelief disabled our eyes to recognize him. As Jesus said in the Gospel, “Blest are those who have not seen and yet believed.  (Jn. 20: 29). Champions are believers. We believe, before we doubt.

Splendor of the King: The Lord is Risen!

 

“…He is not here. He has been raised, exactly as he promised. Come and see the place where he was laid.” (Mt. 28:6)

 

The Lord is Risen! Alleluia!

 

After a gloomy week which culminated in the burial of Jesus with the help of Joseph of Arimathea, the mood changes on Black Saturday with the eager anticipation of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior. During that first Easter, Mary Magdalene came to inspect the tomb, in an act of love. Great must be her grief on seeing the empty tomb! And yet, with the Lord’s resurrection, her sadness turned “half-overjoyed, half-fearful and ran to tell the good news to his disciples” (Mt. 28:8).

 

In the Easter vigil, there are several readings counting from the book of Genesis and up to St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. Fr. Armand likens this to a typical vigil wherein we gather and share stories about the recently departed brother or sister. Indeed what we do in the Easter vigil is listen to the proclamation of salvation history of the Church. The Church salvation history begins with the opening chapters of the book of Genesis and continues to the book of Revelation, where God the Father reveals His plan of salvation and His loving desire to re-establish the broken relationship between Himself and man.  The promise and the beginning of the fulfillment of that plan is manifested in the Incarnation of Jesus the Messiah.

 

The Church has told us that it is “important for us to understand that the Holy Bible is not only a book of faith but it is also a book of history.  It was within the unfolding of actual human events that God has embodied His revelation of salvation and revealed Himself to man”.  In the general audience, held in St. Peter’s Square, on May 11, 2005, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, preached a message of hope by reminding the faithful of God’s divine intervention in human history.  Pope Benedict told the more than 17,000 people present, that “History is not in the hands of dark forces, of chance, or of merely human choices.  The Lord, supreme arbiter of historical events, rises above the discharge of evil energies, the vehement onslaught of Satan, the emergence of plagues and wickedness. He knowingly guides history to the dawn of the new heaven and the new earth, as mentioned in the last part of the book [of Revelation] in the image of the New Jerusalem.” (Agape Catholic Bible Study)

 

Yes, God is in control of human events, but we take care not to stereotype Him in doing things as we think He will and should do. Our wisdom is not up to God and what we think is God’s wisdom is not really so. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD” (Is. 55:8, the 5th Reading). We can only pray to discern how God is moving events to realize His plan of salvation, and to know what He wants us to do exactly.

 

The story of Mary Magdalene’s visit to the tomb is the same human experience when we encounter extreme feelings, especially when what started as sad suddenly becomes a fearful, and then a joyful experience. In our earthly life pilgrimage, we must be able to discern the wisdom of sacrificing for eternal life. When we are able to do this, the “sacrifice” we consider isn’t actually one of pain, but something of a motivation to reunite with the Lord in eternal joy. Most great stories start with a sad event, but eventually end up triumphant and happy. In our spiritual journey, it is much the same. While life on earth may give us sorrow and pain, we can still be joyful and at peace for we know that there is something to look forward to in the end. This is something that we do after we have found the “pearl of great price”! (Mt. 13:46) As American comedian Steven Wright once said, “Hard work pays off in the future, laziness pays off now”.

Starting with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on the evening of Holy Thursday continuing through the Good Friday veneration of the Cross and the Easter vigil on Holy Saturday, the Easter Triduum marks the most significant events of Holy Week. These events form the foundations of our faith and we know that without these coming to pass, there wouldn’t have been any Easter celebration.

 

Let us not waste the message of Easter, to “seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near.” (Is. 55:6) Let us joyfully celebrate and share the Word, proclaim the Splendor of the King: the Lord is Risen, Alleluia!

 

 

Values. Values.

Great values never go out of style. The values that you have reflect the kind of lifestyle that you live and relationships that you keep. Values last for a lifetime as these are the things that you strongly believe in that no matter how challenging a situation may be, you stand firm to your beliefs and belief system. Be that person who people will look up to for standing up for his values even if it may cost him anything in his life.

Enthusiasm

You feel safe. Busy building your house with high protective walls to boot? Chasing dreams that will spell a comfortable life and a happy retirement? Got the latest gadgets? Excited? You’d better be. Life is good; you’ve got all the bases covered. But for whom are you playing the game? You can pile up your points, but the final score is still about significance, that is, your impact on other people’s lives. We are all our brothers’ keepers [and sisters’ too, to be politically correct]. Look around you: highly motivated individuals who exhibit tremendous staying power are those who dedicated themselves to something or someone else. Else? Yes. Self only? Sucks.

You were born to be a hero, my Champion. Cultivate character; it builds productive relationships. Have a heart; caring people will never know loneliness. Aim for a mission; that will keep your focus and open up opportunities. Maintain your balance, and life will be a meaningful journey. Everyday. Prioritize the Spirit; you’d never want to run out of courage for living, do you? Stay the course; nothing works without commitment. These are the six secrets of living with no regrets, and they work! Promise.

So what’s the catch? People will notice you. They will identify with the glow of your face and the memories you leave behind. They will wonder, and end up inspired by you. If you made it, they could. If you dared; they should. And if you are happy; they would. Pursue your dreams, but remember that you rub on others, for better or for worse. Consciously or unconsciously. You are always on duty.

Live happy. Summon your enthusiasm. Stretch yourself 110 percent, so you can believe in yourself. Yes, yourself, and not simply what you have done. Love people. Love your enemies. Every time you do good to those who hate you, your friends will feel secure about how far your love could go for them too. Make sure your forgiveness is unli, unless you would not want your love to be like that of God. Live an inspiring life. You will never run out of steam. And it doesn’t cost a cent.

So, commit yourself to one critical behavior. It is that one concrete action you’d develop into a habit to overcome your worst weakness. As time goes by, you’d stack up your private victories. Be patient, these will reach a tipping point when your genuine self will be re-born. Oops, take it positively. As you focus on this single behavior, you will notice that other areas of your life are getting brushed up too. Believe in happy endings.

Choose to be brave. You are called to happiness; you are sent to inspire.

 

Passion

You are afraid to die. Let’s say it in a kinder way: you are afraid of seeing ghosts, getting hurt, going hungry, going penniless, walking alone. You are afraid.

And when fear clutches your spirit, you end up full of regrets. You find yourself trapped in the cul-de-sacs of life, lost and bewildered. Take note of deadly viruses that infect your spirit. They come bundled with the fear app. Resentments make you blind to the blessings. Envy stirs aggression. Groping leads you nowhere. Rebelliousness dissipates your energies uselessly. Ennui burdens your soul with no meaning at all. Becoming temperamental destroys your personal equilibrium. In plain language, you wallow in stressful situations you yourself have compounded.

No, it is not passion. Rather, it is the absurdity of nervousness. Forcing yourself to get up in the morning is not exciting. Beating deadlines is no fun at all. Going through the motions of the relationships does not give life. And you call that living. I call it misery.

You were born to be a hero, my Champion. I did not give you two feet just to drag them along. I did not give you two hands just to keep them inside your lousy pockets. I gave you a mind to know what belongs to your plate and what does not. I gave you a heart to feel the exhilaration of standing in the front lines of life, and to savor the warm tears every time you rise from defeats. To live is to live with passion. There is no other way.

Believe before you doubt. Be still and gather your inner forces. Rev up your love for life. Cut out the chains of regrets that disable your spirit. Summon your giftedness. Focus on what you truly want in life. Then go for it! You will find yourself so engaged, you won’t even have time to think of the ghastly images of your fears.

So, start by dying to your miserable self.

  • Quiet yourself. Let go.
  • Put your right hand where your heart is.
  • Remember an experience when you were so afraid, and how the regrets later have “destroyed” you.
  • Let your hand tear away that stone of regrets from your heart. Repeat as many times till you find your peace.

Champions have fears. But they never let these get in the way of life.

Choose to be brave. Ignite your passions.

Meek

Your saws are sharpened for the competition. You are ready to face and outpace anyone who would dare cross your paths. Yes, your adrenaline is pumping almost non-stop everyday; there ain’t no mountain too high to climb. You must win. There is no other choice.

But why? Why the mad rush to be on top. Hasn’t it dawned on you yet that every time you win, you make somebody else cry? Yes, winners celebrate; losers drown in their tears. So we say, “sport lang.” Losers end as the necessary collateral damage in the battles of life.

Admit it: that fierce competitive snarl is only the face of your inner fears. Would you claw your way up front if there are so many seats waiting to be filled up? Will you be nervous standing in line if you know that the food is over abundant? You are just afraid. Fear is that nagging emptiness within and the insecurity of not filling up that vacuum in our spirits.

You were born to be a hero, my Champion. You were not created to fight for your meager portion and scramble for your little corner. That is for the beasts. Do not be afraid. Life is on your side. There is enough, more than enough.

Choose to be happy instead. Happiness is not a set of ripe conditions, but a personal choice. A rich man could be happy, so too does a poor neighbor. A married person could enjoy the bliss of companionship, so does the single person cherish her personal freedom. Being first could be exhilarating, so does being last so fulfilling. Decide to be brave. Defeat and despair are not in your veins. You were created for a miracle life. And you can make the miracles happen.

But first things first. Do not clobber that thirst for genuine greatness in your heart. It comes with peace and joy. You don’t have to outrun others, nor conquer every street of life. You only need to confront yourself and decide to rid your heart of the nagging baggage: your un-necessary wants, your superfluous treasures, your hardened unforgivables, your painful hurts, your pathetic behaviors, your un-attended unlovables. These feed your fears of living.

Meekness is the strength of honesty with one’s self. So make your lists. This could be very embarrassing. But you need to do it. Absolutely. Articulating your hidden denials is the first solid step of facing up to your fears. Do it now, not tomorrow. You should have done this yesterday.

Help me create in you a new heart that is open to love, my love.

Choose to be brave. Cherish the quiet power of meekness.