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.

Remember

You have been much in a rush lately. Obviously, you won’t admit it: you are tired and frazzled. You complain that the temperature has spiked; but you haven’t noticed that your kid brother needs a haircut. You have been running about; and you were so busy to check on your harried yaya.

The problem with rushing is you miss out on the awesome countryside, you become oblivious of white herons standing majestically on carabaos’ backs. You just can’t wait to stop by the roadside burger joint and indulge in your favorite selfie pastime. Pathetic.

When you rush, everything becomes a blur. You don’t remember a thing; experiences elude you. The only thing that matters is clutching desperately your expensive mobile phone. You’re even worried sick your batteries are going to conk out anytime very soon. And you call this life.

You were born to be a hero, my Champion. Do not be afraid to press “Pause.” Stop: this is prescription numero uno for someone in a rush. Now, admit it: you are afraid of life’s red lights because you do not know what to do during those moments.

Stopping is never a forward business; it is looking back… and remembering. Turn off your engine. Put down your mobile. Tune in your GPS to yester-days. Worries and hurts get you nowhere, so focus on counting your blessings, yes, the wonderful blessings. It is the only way to see my love wrapped with the miseries. Promise.

Be thankful. And you will be a happy person. That’s another promise. Then you will sense that I have been riding with you all along. That is the revelation! You will never be afraid. It is I.

So make your list. Now. Start jotting down the blessings that refer to your [1] work-life. When you feel you have exhausted these, go to check on the blessings about your [2]relationships. Move to yourself as an [3] adult: the blessings about yourself now that you are in full control of life. Then bring back those rebellious [4] teeny bopper years when life was unfolding to you in exciting new ways. And do not forget the wonderful [5] childhood years when you were on the receiving end of “life’s lollipops.” May I refer to these as the Five Awesome Mysteries of your life.

Your rush is symptomatic of inner emptiness, which comes from being forgetful. Do not allow the mystery of your life to be gagged by the arid sense of un-eventfulness. I am the Lord of life. I will never allow that.

Choose to be brave. Choose to remember.

Name Above Every Other Name

Palms fascinate. Their unique form gives elegance to the landscape. Aside from having large, compound and beautiful leaves, many palms provide food and other important products. This Sunday, also called Palm Sunday, marks the start of the Holy Week. The feast commemorates Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four Gospels. This calls for deep reflection and thought on the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior. We should spend time with Him in the Blessed Sacrament during this Holy Week and minimize the practice of using these days for fun and leisure.

Let us try to ponder on the depth of God’s love for us such that He gave “his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). As a response, let us act on this love so that we may reflect Jesus to others. For example, we should realize that we must meet the needs of the poor; that we have no right to hoard money and not to share; that we can’t go out to buy unnecessary things when the man next door is barely able to survive. These are radical ways of living the Gospel but indeed this is the call of Jesus. So much so that the elders and chief priests couldn’t accept what the Lord taught, that they are now planning to kill Jesus (Jn. 11:53). There’s even the account in the Gospel wherein some even “…pick up rocks to throw at Jesus (Jn. 8:59).  In those times, death by stoning (as described by Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB), is one of the cruelest means of killing a person.

This Holy Week, the “sinless Lamb of God” chose to die like the original Passover lamb killed in Egypt more than 1,400 years earlier, so that now His blood would save the world from the slavery of Satan. Jesus experienced betrayal, humiliation, torture and yet he accepted it freely to bring us all back to God, in forgiveness and love:

Though he was in the form of God, he did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather he emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men. He was known to be of human estate, and it was thus that he humbled himself, obediently accepting even death, death on a cross! Because of this, God highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name above every other name, so that at Jesus’ name every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father: JESUS CHRIST Is LORD!” 

Phil. 2: 6-11

 As the Holy Week unfolds, let us take the time to confess our sins and our unfaithfulness to Him. Let us offer prayers for our country, the Holy Mother Church and our fellowmen.

Champspeak

I used Fr. Armand’s book as reference for my talk-“Heroes for God and Country” in our first Character Enhancement Retreat at the 5th Infantry Division in Gamu, Isabela. The participants liked it. So for their weekly talk I intend to give them the C-H-A-M-P-S one chapter at a time for an hour session.

 

Ret. Gen. Art Alabanza, PMA Class Masigasig 72

Voice From Within

Acting in congruence with once conscience is our loving response to God’s presence.  We fine tune a contemplative spirit and this happens when we turn off the radio while driving, put into silent mode a gadget that takes us away from this mood or simply make time to keep quiet and listen to the voice that calls within. Has it been a practice of yours to keep in touch with our inner selves and review the events of the day? Listen! ….. And affirm your connection with the voice from within.

Out Into The World

It’s graduation time! Many of us have friends and family members who graduated lately. Whatever the level in school, it is a time to be cheerful, a time for thanksgiving, a time to thank the Lord for all the blessings, graces and answered prayers. After many years of study and hardship, the graduates are now ready to fly out into the world, to face real life challenges and situations. After a licensure exam for some courses, they eagerly await to be confronted with complex situations awaiting their solutions and expertise. They will need all the learnings they have gained, while they also need to take time to listen to mentors who have the competencies and deep experiences awaiting to be tapped and consulted.

Aside from the practical side, it is also an opportune time for young people to be reminded to include planning the spiritual aspects of life. This planning phase is crucial, because one must remember to include selecting a journey that includes Jesus as well. We have to discern what our mission in life is. With Jesus as our guide, we will not fail. We can only promise to try our best every time, all the time. Let us remember that “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the decision of the Lord that endures.” (Prv. 19:21).  Let us be consoled in what the Psalmist said, “Happy the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked… but delights in the way of the Lord… He is like a tree near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade (whatever he does, prospers.) (Ps. 1: 1ff).

On a similar note, just like the graduates who prepare to immerse with real-life situations, Catholics are also reminded of our role in this Year of Faith. To put this in perspective, in 2021, we will be celebrating the 500th year of Christianity in the Philippines. The Church, through the CBCP, has called out nine years of intensive preparation, starting in 2013 as the Year of Faith, and this year 2014, as the Year of the Laity, with the theme: “The Filipino Catholic Laity: Called to be Saints…Sent forth as Heroes!” It therefore primes us, the Laity, to ask ourselves, how and what can we contribute to making these preparations, relevant in the light of Christ call for us to make fishers of men. Who is the laity? According to Vatican II, the laity is the person, baptized. “To be lay is a calling and we have to respond to that calling. Just like the religious, who felt God’s call, they responded to it. Priests are called to be priests, and they responded to become priests. The lay person is called by God to respond to the call of being laity. We have to remind that over and over again, that the laity is called by God to be trusted with the faith and with baptism, the laity is a genuine part of Christ. Made one with Christ. Every baptized person is one with Christ. And as baptized, lay people are established among the people of God, incorporated to the Church, the People of God.  That’s why being baptized, all lay people is united in Christ being prophet, being priest, and being King.”

Archbishop Soc Villegas, in his Pastoral Exhortation of the CBCP for the 2014 Year of the Laity, reminded us that we’re baptized, not only to share in Christ’s dignity as Sons and Daughters of the Father, but also “to share in His mission for the world. His mission for us is to sanctify and transform the world so that this world becomes more like God’s world, God’s kingdom, where His will is done.”

Let us then go out into the world, not content of staying in our Churches, but out there, where the fight between good and evil is raging. Our work here on earth isn’t finished yet, just like what Jesus has said, “My Father is at work until now, and I am at work as well” (Jn 5:17). Let us allow the Holy Spirit to transform us, and cooperate fully in the work of salvation.

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