It took some time to put the first words into this reflection, but what finally got me starting was when the CD played “Love never fails” (lyrics based on St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians), by Jim Brickman. Maybe the tune helped, but the lyrics are so moving, especially that part which sings: “Love never fails, never fails I promise you, my love will never fail, And I will give to you, faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. I give you love. “ Every time this music is played, my heart moves, because it tells of how God loves me so much, so much so that He promised, “ my love will never fail.”
One of the most beautiful and inspiring stories of our faith is that one of the Annunciation of the Lord. The Gospel of St. Luke tells us of the angel Gabriel being sent by God to “…a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph… “ And said to her, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” The Scriptures tells us that the Blessed Mother Mary was greatly troubled at the saying, that the angel has to assure her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Lk. 1: 26ff). Fr. Armand aptly describes how difficult it must be for Mary, because in those days, and even up to now, how will others react when she answers that she became pregnant as “the Holy Spirit came” upon her! It must really be so difficult, and yet, Mary believed. “Full of grace” is a very meaningful statement that the angel Gabriel used, indeed it’s so deep but Fr. Armand was able to simplify it: “…means, not lacking in grace; grace here means God’s grace.” Mary’s simplicity and purity allowed God to fill her with grace. This only happens when one is open and humble to the leadings of the Holy Spirit. The early Church fathers speak of Mary’s immaculate nature. With our cooperation in God’s plan of salvation, we will all eventually be rendered immaculate (sinless), but Mary as the prototypical Christian, “received this grace early”. God granted her freedom from sin to make her a “fitting mother for His Son.“ (www.Catholic.com)
It must be difficult for Mary and Joseph to live in those times, amidst persecution and poverty, but because they were filled and possessed with love for God, they overcame those challenges. Mary’s humility and meekness made it easy for her to accept God’s will for her life. When love becomes the driver, problems and difficulties become bearable, just like parents who work very hard to put their children to school. Some even have to work abroad to do that, in order to create better opportunities for loved ones back home in the Philippines. They sacrifice time in order to ensure that their families live comfortable lives, despite working away in lonely conditions, despite continuously missing birthdays, and regular bonding time with family. Yes, when one is in love, one is inspired. It’s easier to serve; love inspires you to work harder, to put effort into your passions, to achieve your dreams. Love inspires faith, love inspires lives!
In this season of Lent, let us show our love for Jesus by sharing more of ourselves to other people in need. Aside from praying and fasting, almsgiving is also being asked of us. Let us heed the call to love others as we love ourselves. I suggest that if we haven’t done yet, we share in efforts to alleviate the lives of people affected by calamities. For example, in support of San Miguel Corporation’s efforts to help rebuild the lives of typhoon Yolanda victims, with the initiative of Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB, Chaplain; all Mass collections this Lenten season in the San Miguel Chapel, are intended for the fishermen-victims of Northern Cebu. To date, collections have already allowed for several boats to be committed. A few pesos each day, put together, will go a long way in helping our least fortunate brothers and sisters rebuild their lives.
Let us share ourselves and delight in the fact that Jesus has said, “I assure you, as often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me” (Mt. 25:40).