Let Jesus Find You

Imagine being born blind, and then gifted with eyesight later in life. Things which were just described before can now be seen in their true colors and vivid reality. There must be some disorientation before the man in the Gospel can appreciate the experience, perhaps one of the best moments of his life.

However, his happiness must be short-lived since instead of sharing his joy, the people and the Jews’ skepticism caused him trouble, as the Pharisees were trying to find fault on Jesus for doing work on the Sabbath. To the thinking of the Jews, being blind is a sign of sin though even when his sight was restored, they still continue to label him as such. They didn’t believe in his story and found it difficult to trust him, so they threw him out. Gifted with eyesight didn’t remove the previous identify that he has.

Being born blind must be one of the most unfortunate attribute one can ever have. You can miss the beautiful scenes of the mountains, the colors of clothing as well as man-made structures, even the animals on land and fishes in the seas and oceans. Yet the Gospel tells us that gaining sight can also disorient, just like the man. What the others did to him may have confused him all the more.

Yet, “when Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, He found him.” (Jn. 9: 35) The Lord must have looked for him then! To complete his conversion, Jesus asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” After verifying who the Son of Man is, he said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him. (v. 38)

The Gospel themes are now getting heavier as we move closer to the Holy Week. Like the ending scenes of an epic movie, the intensity heightens, the plot thickens. As in my own personal experience, whenever we find some insights that we thought people will appreciate, there will be disagreements and discord; other’s postures will get us more confused. Yet, with all that’s happening around us, just like what Jesus did to the man, let us just allow the Lord to find us. He will be glad to, and we will be at peace. And we will be all right.

“I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life.” (Jn. 8: 12)

Sustaining the Flow of Living Water

There was a time in my younger days that the idea of selling water for drinking is unlikely, even absurd. Clean drinking water then was plentiful; water wells were oozing with supply. Today, we have to shell out money to buy clean water for drinking. In this Sunday’s Gospel, we are reminded of the significance of water both in our physical and spiritual life. We drink water to quench thirst and to sustain bodily functions. It is used for agriculture, for cooling and heating, and is referred to as the universal solvent; as such it is widely used in industrial processes and in cooking and cleaning. Much of the world’s fish and marine life are sourced from major seas and oceans. Trade uses water to transport commodities and manufactured products through waterways. Water is also a venue for many sports and other forms of entertainment.

Jesus was asking a drink from the Samaritan woman, and struck a conversation with her. The discussion was getting deeper and the woman eventually asking “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” (Jn. 4: 15) The Lord speaks about water that gives “eternal life”, a spring of water that flows continuously.

As water is the major component of beer and beverages, we always appreciate its contribution and significance in the final product quality. There was a time that cities became famous due to the beers that were produced there, as a consequence of the water quality that flows out of its aquifers. (A good example is the popular Pilsen Beer, deriving its origins from a city in the old Czechoslovakia which became the model for the category of beers under the same name.)

Similarly, Jesus speaks of the markers that the gifts of the Holy Spirit – knowledge, understanding, counsel, wisdom, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord. These in turn bears the twelve fruits of the Spirit, according to Sacred Tradition these are: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1832).

Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them. (Mt. 7:17-20)

This passage in St. Matthew’s Gospel helps us understand the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, which are manifested by people who have allowed the grace of the Holy Spirit to flow in their lives.

As we come deeper into Lent, let us be reminded that we shouldn’t stop trying to achieve holiness. Let us continue nourishing ourselves with the living water that following Jesus can give; in so doing, we allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify us. Let us continue to exercise fasting, alms-giving and immersing ourselves in prayer, not only this Season, but as a continuous practice of sanctification.

“Lord, you are truly the Savior of the world; give me living water, that I may never thirst again.” (cf. Jn. 4: 42, 15)

Be Transformed

We’re now going more real into our spiritual preparations as it is already the Second Sunday of Lent. Have we already started purifying our hearts, observing fasting and abstinence, almsgiving, and prayer? Going by our age and experience, we should already be past starting these. However, we should continue to ask ourselves those questions, as it’s getting nearer now. In a few weeks, we’ll be going deeper into the redeeming Passion and Death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

During this Holy Season, there should be transformation in us, mentally, spiritually, physically. The Holy Mother Church is guiding us through this trek into the desert (or into the mountain, whatever you like more). In the Gospel, the journey to the mountain may have been arduous and tiring, Peter, James and John may have wondered why go there in the first place? What the heck, why bother? It is a test of patience and endurance. The disciples have the idea that Jesus is not a typical person; they think He is unusual. That’s why when they were asked to follow Jesus into the mountain, they followed. Similarly, we may also have asked, “Why a Lenten season?” Maybe time spent in Boracay is “much better” than spending it in Church.

This Lent, like all the previous ones we’ve been through, is a spiritual journey that will enable us to understand better its meaning and relevance. As Jesus may have said to Peter, James and John, “have patience, we’ll get there soon”, so it will be for us. We go like we are journeying up a mountain trail deep into the Sierra Madre or the majestic Mt. Apo. It is rugged, it is tough, the ascents are narrow and sharp. As the days continue, we keep fasting, praying, sacrificing and giving. Each time we fast, each time we abstain and sacrifice, each time we pray, each time we sacrifice and give more of ourselves, is a step up that mountain, bringing us closer to the Father.

In God’s grace and compassion, we will be blessed with a transformation as the culmination of all the preparations we’ve made. For all the difficulties and challenges in the journey, it is hoped that the commemoration of Lent aid us comprehend deeper the necessity of it all. Even though we’ve experienced several Lenten seasons already, we may still be having difficulty comprehending its meaning. We’re learning slowly, as evidenced by our stubbornness and inconsistencies in living the Gospel message.

Persevere. Never mind if the steps hurt. Never mind the various times that we’ve fallen. I know that as the Holy Week draws near, some of us may be tempted to give up all the sacrifices we’ve done seemingly failing in bringing us closer to intimacy with Jesus.

But don’t give up, be in it. Let Lent strengthen you. Embrace the challenges and eagerly await being transformed. In the end, all will make sense. There’s the Light waiting for us at the end of the journey and for some moments, we are allowed a small peek into it, as if to encourage us to hang on. Just as Peter, James and John experienced it many centuries ago.

Let us therefore soak ourselves into the meaning of the journey, and allow Jesus to draw us closer to Him. To transform us some more. Trusting that we can draw on His strength and power to overcome our frailties and weaknesses, so that on the last day, He will bring us to rise with Him.

‘A bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud the Father’s voice is heard: This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.’
(Mt. 17: 5)

Christ’s Redeeming Love

In this sensation-hungry world, stories of failures are more often highlighted in the news than success stories. People seem to be more interested in bad rather than the good stuff. It would have been better if the news that bring more positive energy rather than grief and sorrow are given more attention. And yet, when it’s their turn to commit mistakes, the same people get defensive and make lots of excuses.

The readings this First Sunday of Lent talk about the fall of Adam in the garden in Eden, Christ’s redeeming suffering, and Jesus’ overcoming the temptation in the desert.

Thinking about it, we realize that temptation and the way we handle it is not a one-time deal. Every day of our lives we are bombarded with trials and every time we fail, we repeat every whip, every thorn, and every nail pierced on the Sacred Body of Christ.

The Gospel tells us that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. (Mt. 4: 11) Despite He’s being the Son of God, Jesus wasn’t spared temptation; the difference though is He didn’t surrender but rather overcame it. The Spirit of God is in Him, and because of His obedience and devotion to the Father’s will, became victorious and triumphant. Similarly, when we surrender and give ourselves to God, with faith and prayer we can draw on the marvelous power of Jesus to resist temptation every single day of our earthly journey.

In this holy season of Lent, let us reflect on our capability and strength to handle the temptations that we face each day. Let us fortify our spirits through fasting, almsgiving and prayer, so that we will emerge victorious and triumphant. In the event that we stumble let us pray for the humility and audacity to accept our shortcomings and failures in front of God. Let us go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that we purify ourselves and become at least worthy of Christ’s love. This undying love is the one that made possible the redemption of unworthy sinners that we are. (Rom. 5: 17). Our efforts at overcoming sin will never be enough: we need Him to pass through. He will deliver, as promised. What is needed is a pure heart with a sincere, deep, abiding love for the Lord.

‘Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in your abundant compassion blot out my offense. Wash away all my guilt; from my sin cleanse me.’ (Ps. 51: 3-4)