Prayer of A Doubting Thomas

Prayer of A Doubting Thomas

 

My Lord and my God!

Forgive me if I doubted,

The pains and tears brought by your cross

Are so much that they blinded me

And the realization that it was my sins that brought you death

Filled me with so much loathing of myself,

that I wanted to be alone,

I wanted to be far off,

so as not to be a stumbling block to our friends and thus bring further pain.

And so I was not there

When you appeared before them

And assured them peace.

You see, when they told me,

That You, Lord, rose again,

I was overjoyed by the thought,

I can only dream of that moment

When your mere presence

Calmed all their fears

And confirmed in their heart

That you truly conquered  everything.

But what if everything they saw was a dream?

A mere hallucination of people buried in grief,

A mere illusion to survive the fear that consumes them.

I wanted more than anything to believe

That you truly rose again!

And thus, I feared more than anything

that all of it was not true,

And so Lord forgive me,

If I have wanted to touch those nailmarks,

If I have wanted to feel your heart beating once again even if it was pierced,

For it is the only way to wake up

to the realization

that love truly conquers all

and to have that faith

That does not fear anything

A conviction that calls into action.

Forgive us Lord,

For we are all doubters

And when you appeared once again,

When I’m with them

We are still cowering behind locked doors

Fearful that our sins and enemies

May claim our lives once again.

Doubt is a cycle and contagious

And so help us Lord

To be strong in faith

For one another.

May we find You

In the faith of our friends.

And so there You are

You give us your peace

And your Spirit

Even though our hearts

Like those doors

Are locked

You entered

In the glory of your risen body

And filled us

With the power and joy

Of your resurrection

Despite our doubts

Our fears

Our cowardice

Our weaknesses

Our sins.

And You approached me

Chiding me like a child for my unbelief

And you allowed me to touch those nailmarks

And to feel that heart

Beating once again

Alive once again

Out of love for me

And nothing

Not even death

Can now separate us.

As I kissed your feet,

I realized that I cannot fully understand

The meaning of everything

But that does not mean

That I cannot believe

I do believe Lord

Supply my unbelief

And in my heart I instantly knew

And so I exclaimed

My Lord and my God!

I wanted to believe

Despite my doubts Lord God

And there will be times

I know, that I will still doubt,

Not because I did not see you

But because of my sins

Because of my flaws

Because of my falls

Because of my self.

And so this is my prayer,

Everytime I grow less sure of myself,

May I grow more sure of you!

Jesus, I trust in you!

And when I doubt Lord God,

Grant that I may doubt the world is round,

That I may doubt that the sun is fire,

That I may doubt that truth be a liar,

But never may I doubt,

That You Love!

Blessed are those who doubt,

For by their doubt,

They seek the truth

And they are found by it.

Blessed are those

Who despite their doubts,

Move on through it

And chooses to believe

Finding our Lord and our God

Alive in them. Amen.

We Only Live Once: 1st Sunday of Lent Year A

creation_of_adam_michelangelo

“The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being.” (Gen 2:7)

The 2016 film “The Young Messiah” ends with the Child Jesus praying to His heavenly Father these simple yet very profound insights:

“I’ve learned so much since leaving Egypt. I know everything I can for today. I even know I’m going to die. I used to wonder if angels would come to me, if they would sing to me, if they would fill my dreams. There is still so much that I don’t know but I do know this. I don’t think I’m here to see angels or to hear them sing. And I don’t think I’m here to make it rainy, or sunny or anything like that. I think I’m here just to be alive. To see it, hear it, feel it, all of it. Even when it hurts. Someday, You will tell me why else I’m here. I don’t know when, but I know You will. I know that. Because, Father, I am your child.”

The first Sunday of Lent brings into focus the plight of human life, the plight that Jesus Himself shared with us, the life of man upon earth as a drudgery (Cf. Job 7:1). So many people are living with lives of quiet desperation, alive but not living. They are so busy working just to be alive so that life passes them by. They see life as its own end and so they fail to embrace its meaning. They know likewise that “you only live once” and even used this as a cause to squander their lives, surrendering their selves to the flow of the world until they are drowned in it. Otherwise, there are those fortunate souls who indeed know that we only live once and so they continue to accept the challenges of life, and so be really alive to live it. They know that they are only going through this once and so they do it right, trying to better themselves, yes, sometimes defeated, but never giving up. God smiles upon their undertakings and so rewards them with the meaning of life, to be a worthy sharer in the true life to come.

“In conclusion, just as through one transgression, condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all.”

Even Jesus Christ lived only once and he was tempted to succumb to the drudgery of living just to be alive. But Jesus showed us that sin is not what temptation does to a man, it is what a man does to temptation. All of today’s readings point to the difference that one man can make in the examples of Adam and Jesus. At the beginning of Lent, we are reminded that each of us is empowered to make the same difference, we just need to choose our exemplar between the two. What difference can we make? To see this, we need to reflect on what will happen to humanity if our life will be multiplied to the population of the world, of our country, of our community, of our family.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus showed that the difference between him and Adam is dependence on God. In the three temptations of Jesus, he depended not on himself nor the rest of creation but on God. He chose to live by every word that comes from His mouth. He decided to fully trust Him and never to test Him. Finally, he depended on Him by giving Him the worship that He is due. The Council of Trent taught that Final Perseverance is such a great gift of God that we can never merit it but only to receive it as a gratuitous gift. Nonetheless, St. Augustine added that God grants it to all who seek it and they will infallibly obtain it if they commit themselves to it.

We only live once. Life is indeed short. Hence, we must do it right or else we may not be there to share in the ‘true’ life to come. Life on earth is indeed a drudgery and so many give up, and on the pretense of living to the full by enjoying the world, lose it. Though life is a warfare, it is also a gift from the Father. We may oftentimes fall, be defeated and grow tired. But we can always find rest on the fact that we are His children. And there find the strength to fight again, to live life, to smile and enjoy, to never give up, and finally to triumph.

We are Better than These: 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

We are Better than These: 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

“Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are is holy.” (1 Cor 3:16-17)

A story is told about two Buddhist monks who went to a river to cleanse themselves. One of the two monks noticed a drowning scorpion and so he scooped it out of the water to save it. Yet the scorpion stung his hand so that it fell again on the water. Again, the monk saved the scorpion while it repeated to sting his hand. The same pattern happened for the third time so the other monk, who was observing commented to him, “Why do you keep on saving that scorpion even if you know that it will just sting you again? Why don’t you let it drown itself?” And the monk replied, “The scorpion keeps on stinging my hand because that is its nature and it doesn’t know any better. I on the other hand must keep on saving it because it’s my nature to help. I must not let this creature which just acts its nature to prevent me from being who I am.”

Man was created in the image and likeness of God. Then, when he was disfigured by sin, Christ redeemed human nature and renewed it. Finally, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, human nature was empowered and elevated to live bearing the image and likeness of God.

“Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.” (Lv 19:2)

The Hebrew word for holiness connotes the meaning of being ‘set apart’. God as the Holy One, exists above and fully set apart from His creation. He is the epitome of freedom. Man bearing the image and likeness of God is also set apart from the rest of creation. Moreover, he was given freedom through which in this life he can be holy or ‘set apart’ from the rest, soaring above his environment and circumstances, ultimately carving his own destiny. God’s embodiment of freedom, above all, is His freedom to love, independent of merit and sin, of reward and punishment, a love freed from all selfishness that it respects the freedom of the beloved, thus enabling the beloved creature to freely choose to love and experience the glorious freedom of a child of God. True love can only come from freedom and this freedom allows us to reach our highest potentials and deepest desires. It perfects us so that we become independent from all corruption and selfishness and elevate ourselves from the endless cycle of retribution and retaliation in this world. Such that we truly become a child of God, and another Christ in this world that needs redemption from its self-bent destruction.

“So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48)

Perfection is a process that entails pain and suffering. Jesus himself knows and understands how difficult it is to obey the precepts he laid in the gospel today (Cf. Mt 5:38-48). But he has shown that it’s possible when he stretched out his arms on the cross. In this world where vengeance is extolled as justice and violence is promoted as a solution, we are challenged by Jesus to choose the better way: to destroy our enemies by love. In this vicious cycle of retaliation and retribution leading to our self-destruction, Jesus offers a path of recreation and renewal which will lead to conversion and perfection of society.

God has created us better than the rest of visible creation. Jesus has showed that we can be better despite our weaknesses and imperfections. The Holy Spirit dwells in us as in a temple for we are not mere creatures lying helpless to our circumstances and environment. We are better than these. We are free to love despite pain and suffering. We are children of God, brothers and sisters, despite our different races, personalities and beliefs. We are greater than everything that can divide us. We are meant to live the life of God-the glorious freedom of His children to love and be perfect.

Love Can Always Be Our Choice

Love Can Always Be Our Choice

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” (Mt 5:17)

Our age has been an age of compromise, an age where moral laws and norms are discarded and sacrificed in favor of a wrong notion of individualism, freedom, and self-expression. There is nothing wrong in being yourself but we must make sure that what we pursue are our authentic selves.

The scriptural readings today which speak and extol God’s Law can surely alienate us who view laws as only necessary evils, things that just constraint our freedom so that others may enjoy theirs for a peaceful society, laws which can be broken relatively if we can justify it. What we need to remember however is that moral laws are not there to limit our freedom and self-expression, they are there for us to fully experience freedom and become our true selves. Oftentimes, because of our selfishness, we fail to see that morality is there not to limit our choices but rather to help us choose what is right and what is just.

“Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him.” (Sir 15:17)

We are what we choose and we are what we repeatedly do. Every act of freedom has two consequences, it will determine what we do and it will define who we will become. If we do a selfish act, we are not only doing a selfish act, we are also becoming selfish. In the Gospel, Lord Jesus has called us not only to obey but also to go beyond what is asked, bordering on what is seemingly ‘impossible’ for us. We can compare these commandments to the stars, which unreachable they may be, yet they can guide us and bring us to our destination, if we will just try to listen. Nevertheless, if our Lord Jesus has proven anything to us, it is that love is always possible. At the cross, in the face of all human dysfunction and corruption, the Lord has shown that love can always be our choice. Moreover, when asked what the greatest commandment is, the Divine Master told us to love God and one another.

The moral law was given for our self-becoming and to become our true selves is the greatest freedom. Above all laws, we have been commanded to love because love is not only the fulfillment of the law, it also empowers us to go beyond the law. That’s why the gospel today challenges us to go beyond what is asked of us by moral norms and social conventions. Empowered by love, there is no limit to what we can accomplish and to who we can become. By love alone, the world was saved, is saved and will be saved. As St. Francis de Sales eloquently puts it, “The measure of love is to love without measure.”

“Brothers and sisters: we speak a wisdom to those who are mature, not a wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away.” (1 Cor 2:6)

We are reminded by St. Paul that this is a truth that the world may never accept and understand. It is God’s wisdom which does not belong to this world, something which we can only understand once we lived through it. The reason why God just won’t take us all to heaven with a flick of his hand is that heaven is not just a prize at the end of this life. Heaven is a way of being, a way of living. That’s why we need to prepare ourselves for it by obeying God’s commandments by true love, by choice, by the deepest act of freedom and self-expression. Heaven is chosen, not just given, for heaven is love to which we say I do. Love is both the simplification and quintessence of the moral law. As St Augustine said, “Love and do what you will.”

And so let us always choose love. For:

“…it is written: what eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Cor 2:9)