Heaven’s Reward

One of the movies I’d like to see is “Heaven is For Real”, the astounding story of the little boy who went to Heaven and came back, which stars Greg Kinnear among others. Not because I need it to convince myself of Heaven’s authenticity, but because like a race car driver, I’d like “to gas up”. Or, just like in basketball, I need to re-energize in order to continue what we call as the “full court press”, moving onwards towards our goal, which is Heaven. In previous reflections, we’ve mentioned that life is an adventure.

 

As in any story, it is important that as the main characters, we are equipped and always prepared to handle the challenges and obstacles that confronts us day after day. However, getting this defensive strategy must be something that is planned, deliberate and not just a consequence of luck or chance. We’ve got to be hopeful,

 

For in hope, we were saved. But hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance. (Rom. 8: 24-27).

 

The weak of heart can fail, but the one with deep-rooted faith can persevere. One of the most touching insights that His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said during a recollection I attended, was when he mentioned that we should be compassionate towards the weak, because when we do commit sin, just like them, we did so because we have become “stupid” and “foolish”. Despite trying hard not to, we still fail occasionally even when God is so generous, kind, loving and caring. Yes, we are sinners, always weak by nature of original sin. Yet, if we submit ourselves humbly to Christ, in our weakness, we will be made strong.

 

The Gospels during the past week talk about the end times, and remind us of our real purpose. We’re reminded that we’re on temporary sojourn, and that we should fix our eyes on Jesus, the real prize ahead.

 

This past Sunday is the Solemnity of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year. This grand feast encapsulates everything that we have been taught: obedience and love for Jesus as the King of our lives! Jesus is one unique King, in that He truly serves His people: His ultimate service was to die on the Cross for our sins. Our challenge, while engaging in continuously trying to live good and holy lives, is how to continue His work, taking care of the lost, the last and the least:

 

feeding the hungry,

giving drink to the thirsty,

welcoming the stranger,

clothing the naked,

caring for the sick,

visiting the prisoners (Mt. 25: 35-39).

 

This doesn’t end here as His spiritual work requires us to admonish sinners, instruct those ignorant of the Faith, counsel the doubtful, comfort those who are sad, bear wrongs patiently, forgive injuries, and pray for the living and the dead.

 

What awe would it be if at the end of this earthly pilgrimage, our Lord and Savior would tell us,

 

Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you from the foundation of the world!” (Mt. 25: 34)

Thankful and Grateful

“Where are the other nine?” (Lk 17: 11 – 19)

Jesus asked this question when after cleansing ten lepers, only one came back to give thanks. It’s sad indeed that only one was grateful. The rest didn’t feel the need to say ‘thank you’. Maybe they’re eager to tell their friends that they’re already well? Or do they have short memories? Does the Miracle Healer not deserving a short ‘thank you’? Why is being thankful important?

We should always be grateful for anything as it is for our own good. We should realize that God’s love is unending and forever flowing. When we are grateful, we pass on the blessings and the mercies that God has given and will give to us. Thus, if we don’t, we disconnect ourselves from being in communion with God’s family.

A person with a grateful attitude will always be a happy person. Whenever tragedy strikes, people usually panic and turn to put blame on others without taking responsibility. The grateful person though will always use his deep and abiding faith as a source of strength and power. He knows that these trials will only make him sharper and stronger.

This Sunday’s Gospel, the Parable of the Talents, teaches us a lot of insights, one of which is the graciousness of God. This parable tells us about God actually taking the risks on each one of us. God takes the risks, with the hope that we will respond and use the gifts and talents He gave us to help our fellowmen and make this world a better place to live in. Imagine entrusting to us our talents, without a hint of guarantee that we would eventually use these for His greater honor and glory? A gamble, a big risk, because He loves us so dearly!

Despite experiencing pain, a grateful person always looks at life with bright-colored glasses. He knows that pain is a part of life, and his experiences will make him better like gold in fire. On the whole, while he believes that life is good, life doesn’t happen according to plan as he knows The Superior Being is the one in control. He also knows that life isn’t fair, yet he also takes each blow as a gift into making him become better and better. He is at peace, he is joyful. Eventually, he understands that everything has a beginning and an end.

Grateful people are happy people. Because they know they are loved.