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.

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.

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