Yesterday I was conversing with Jerson (not his real name), my service advisor of many years, on the state of employment in the service company and he told me where his other colleagues are at this time. Of the eight, only four of them remained as the others were terminated on the same day that the announcement was made. He felt so sad because aside from the service advisors, about half of their technicians also had to go. Most, if not all of them are breadwinners and have families to support.
In the First Reading (Gn. 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18), the test that Abraham went through was so tough, he was asked to offer his son Isaac as a “holocaust”. What mental torture and agony he must have went through during those moments. Certainly, not everyone can pass it (with flying colors!) as Abraham did. It’ll take a lot of faith (tons of faith, actually!)
Our challenges can be likened to the tests that Abraham went through. During this pandemic, there are many Abrahams going through different difficulties and hardships. Be it the loss of job like Jerson’s colleagues, the loss of a loved one, or even being away from family for long periods owing to safety and health protocols and the need to provide for the family. These are times when you feel why such are happening given the so many people affected. In yesterday’s Gospel (Mt. 5: 43-48), Jesus tells us to “Love your enemy”, a challenge so difficult for many to embrace. These aren’t the only teachings that the Lord gave us that are really hard for many to accept. It’s not only questionable and logic defying, but that is what the Lord said. In order for all of us to follow His teachings, Christ gave us a foretaste of Heaven and His glory (today’s Gospel Mk. 9: 2-10). This experience have really left an imprint on His disciples such that they were able to overcome discouragement and hardships. They went on to fulfill their mission and chose to give their lives fully for God.
Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB, shared in his homily today, that one of their classmates in Theology while they were discussing Ancient History asked their professor, who was a History expert,
“Father, how many Christians were killed because of their faith in Jesus?”
“A conservative estimate is two million Christians offered their lives for Christ in a span of three hundred years.”
Fr. Armand added, “Bigyan ‘nyo ako ng iba pang simbahan, na ang kanilang simbahan ay dinilig ng dugo ng kanilang mga kasamahan. Wala. Tayo lang.” (Give me a church that their church is watered by the blood of their martyrs. None. Only the Catholic Church.)
What these stories tell us is that discouragement and challenges are moments when you can’t give up on God, no matter how trying the situation is. Be assured that God would want us to have our basic needs in life. If we ask for it, He will always want to give us the strength to overcome temptations even for those as heavy as Abraham’s. If we pray for our salvation, which would need forgiveness of our sins, I’m pretty sure God would want these to be granted to us provided there is sincerity in our actions. It doesn’t mean God will grant all our prayers, because there is also the aspect of what God’s will is for our lives. He will always want the best for us and will grant those prayers that will keep us with Him for eternity.
Surely, when we give Him the top priority in our lives, He would tell us, like what God said to Abraham,
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly”
Today, reflect on who Jesus really is. Let us pray for the wisdom, the strength, and the courage to stay with Him and resist falling to the temptations and hardships we are faced with.
“From the shining cloud the Father’s voice is heard: This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.” (Mt. 17:5)