Monday, September 24, 2012

To whom is it due?

An all too familiar situation popped inside my head after the mass reading today.

Everyday in our lives, we see a lot of homeless people, beggars, street vendors, or their worse counterparts, muggers and snatchers.

But if there's anything they have in common, it would have to be this: they are all in need of love.

And love, being the multiplex of all understanding and definition, is the great cure for all of this, as Mother Teresa has put it.

Everyday, I commute to work. I do not have specific statistics but allow me to say that 75% of my jeepney rides to work is accompanied by the experience of a child with an envelope going up the jeepney and asking for alms.

When I take the MRT (train), I am welcomed by even more beggars with different versions of asking for alms. Some have babies with them, some have placards, some have medical prescriptions, some have cans or cups, some with physical defects and some singing with a guitar or going solo.

As I walk the street to where I work, there they are again. The crippled, the abandoned, the orphaned, the homeless and the elderly.

Heartbreaking. Truly, if I had all the money of the world, maybe I can help them. But all I can do is spare the change in my pocket. Plus, I cannot save all the problems in the world, let alone, the route I pass by every day.

I remember some family members refuse to give alms to them and would frequently say: "where are their parents?", " Don't give to them because they are making it a business", "this woman is stationed here everyday", "same old tactics", "why don't they work?", "complete sign of laziness","I don't think she/he is really sick", "they should make their lives happen" or "they depend their lives in the mercy of others".

I understand, of course, that every single one of us earns every cent by working hard and mostly on an 8 hour shift daily, that it why it is so hard to let go of that spare money. For us, pamasahe narin yan (it could be spent for the commute fare).

What I don't understand most is why some people find it easy to help those who they are familiar with, rather than the people who are anonymously asking for help (kudos to those who are helping non- selectively).

Well as I have read it today,

27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
   when it is in your power to act.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
   “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
   when you already have it with you.

While we do not really know "to whom it is due", we really are in no position to judge a deserving person from an undeserving person by our own standards. Because as far as the book of life has stated, we are all imperfect. We are also instructed to give the benefit of the doubt to our neighbors, because after all, we cannot pretend to know their situations, because we really do not know anything at all.

If we cannot help them by giving money, perhaps you can create a better way to help them? Instead of ignoring their needs, there's probably a better way to help get the people off the street and help them make a living out of their lives.

If you are reading this right now, take time to relish everything you have. You may be blessed enough to afford your needs plus your wants, no matter how luxurious. Most of the time, people do not appreciate the value of everything that has been given to them until it is taken away.

Thank God you have not been in the bottom of the barrel. If you have experienced it, perhaps He has lifted you up already, if you are experiencing it now, perhaps there is something to be learned from your bankruptcy. We are always where we are supposed to be. God always places us in a position where we will yearn for Him because once we get too comfortable, we often lose our sight of Him.

He knows. He always knows. God is always aware.

Instead of judging the misfortune of others and what caused it, perhaps we can just say a short prayer for them and thank God for the blessing of being able to help them and having the means.
After all, everything you have, all the means you have, came from God and will be used for His purpose.

Everybody is due some good, if not all good. Just as you think you deserve some slack or break, so others must also feel the same way. Remember that no matter how close you are to a person, you can never have the slightest idea of how they feel or what they have been though in their life. And we must always respect that. You cannot really set a measure to how much generosity and charity is expected from you, because as the bible says,

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Lk 12:48)
Start to live a giving life, giving need not always be in material possessions, but it may also be in spiritual support, time and love. You may be someone's life saver just by being generous enough.   Just think of everybody else who has saved your life by being so generous to you. It would be nice to pay it forward.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Destined for Something

If there is one thing every human being is scouring about, it would be for purpose.

I know I am one of those people so eager to approach God so t hat He would just hand it to me like candy.
But a certain level of sacrifice, trials and challenges comes in order to unearth our true purpose.

One thing is for a fact: that we are made for His purpose. We are made for God's pleasure and joy. And we must fulfill this to the last chip of our being.

As I remember reading a certain reflection that says: " the world has lost the meaning of sacrifice." I plunged into deep thinking about what we have or perhaps for starters, what I have become in relation to this world.

The world offers too much comfort, to the point that humans are wired into making profits without hard work, and thinking that it's right and God made it that way. To make matters worst, they use God's gift to provide pleasure for themselves and not for God. Well, I am well aware that EVERYTHING we do echoes into eternity.

The problem? We do not like inconveniences. We do not like waiting. We do not like making sacrifices if it does not benefit us. We do not like giving way. We do not like being wrong even if it hurts us. We do not like losing.

The other problem?

It's just what we need.

I have had my share of complaints presented to the Lord. And to my awe, indeed I get a reply.

Failing to trust Him is the first source of all my trouble. Planning before Him and without Him makes everything worse.

When I seek my purpose, I am flooded with a lot of my suggestions. I plan to do this and do that to prove something, if not to others, to myself.

I get in way above my head. And when I get pressed and distressed, I crack. I get bogged down. It seems to happen time and again.

The problem I guess, is that too many of us have become know-it-all(s) to the point that we disregard correction and direction.

I read in James 4:13-17 the perfect lecture for me during these times that I boast about my tomorrows.

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

I admit it. I want to know my purpose and my goal but the bad part is, I always claim to know better. But I don't. 

So I start over. I try to know God as much as I can because He is my director. And I want that relationship with Him as much as I need it. It is my job to seek and provide what He wants. But before anything else, it is my job to listen.

After reflecting on today's readings I am struck by the words of St. Paul:

Eph 4:11-13

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

How beautiful the answer is. I should just patiently wait for calling and fulfill it. If it was to be a healthcare professional, healing others, then I should be good at it. 

Whatever purpose is revealed to us, we must do it. Sacrifice and obey. Do the least you want to do with gladness for it is not for men why you do it. Do it because while you do, you are in His presence. So make an outstanding performance.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Developing my relationship with God

I admit it. when talking about our relationship with the Father, I am quite lost.

I cannot determine the precise steps to get near to Him and be in a loving and committed relationship with Him, as I do with humans.

I reflected during work yesterday on how to get intimate with God. I brought my New testament bible and started reading books and verses that nudged me on the inside.

However, I was missing the point.

In order to know God, I must know the whole story. Just as I cannot fall in love with someone whom I do not know anything about, I must immerse myself to knowing Him if I want to have a relationship with Him.

I have grown stubborn. Full of excuses on why I can't pick up my bible to read the chapters one by one and the whole book cover to cover. I crowd my mind with unnecessary clutter, worries about my plans, tomorrow, my family, the people I want and do not want in my life and so much more.

 I was complaining to Him yesterday while walking. " I want to live for You, I want to do what you want me to but how come You don't want to show me what to do?"

I was a bit upset. I felt the inner warfare we all go through against the forces of evil and I get by through the snippets I take from the bible and personal prayers. But let me just say, yes, they are effective.

I remember the song we sing in church that "we are in a fight not physical, and we in a war but not with this world."

I wanted to start fresh. I wanted to revive something I know I have lost along the way. My relationship with Him.

I was getting bugged by the enemy again as I was praying. So I wondered what was wrong.
and that night it came to me. Go to confession. Confess my sins to have peace of mind.

I have filled myself with so much clutter. I am at that moment of unclarity and  I cannot even think straight.
For sure, there was no peace of mind. Have you ever felt that?

The feeling that you have so much inside your mind but there was no one thing.

You are just so uneasy. So restless.

So before I went to bed, I talked to Him. I confessed: "Jesus forgive me for my transgressions." and I started to pour out my sins and everything I have done that may have disappointed Him.

I wanted peace of mind so badly. I wanted Jesus. I wanted to see Him, to meet Him to encounter Him.

I slept well last night. But you see, when you confess directly to Him, it is a silent confession. Not like the ones we do in Catholic church where you absolutely hear the priest's absolution (but I know that I have to go to the confession box to fulfill my Catholic duty).

So this morning, I was again distracted by the hustle and bustle of my preparation for my planned exams in the US. I got distracted by so many things just before I prayed. I knew it was getting the best of me again. So I closed the books, stopped chatting with my friend and opened the daily reading.

I wanted God to talk to bad.

Then as I was reading, the answers poured in.

From the first reading,

Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me.

From the psalms ( my favorite PS 118)

Let Israel say, "His steadfast love endures for ever."
the right hand of the LORD is exalted, the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!"
I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD.
Thou art my God, and I will give thanks to thee; thou art my God, I will extol thee. 

And the confirmation of everything, from the Gospel reading,

Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little."
And he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?"
And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." 

And a sigh of relief came from me.

I am no one deserving to receive direct answers. I doubt. I fear. I lack trust. And for all my inequities, He still talks to me to comfort me. He reminds me of His presence in my life.

Now I want to start on the journey. No matter how many times I fall, I want to go and go back to that relationship with Him.

For He is the beginning and the end and everything lives in Him.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Turn to Scripture

I consider myself blessed that God talks to me through my trials and tests in life.

Whenever I feel such oppression, I know that I should quickly turn to His word. Knowing His word equips me with everything I need to overcome the enemy. I know that God wants me to be stronger in the faith and He wants me to increase my faith in Him. I try my best to submerge myself in the scripture and teaching of the Lord: the Holy Bible. I know it has every promise God wants me to remember.

For example, I have been battling with panic disorder that, through the grace of God, I am now overcoming by remembering His word: "He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; 
   I will be exalted among the nations,
   I will be exalted in the earth." Ps 46:10

I also remember His words in Ps 91:3 " He will keep you safe from all hidden danger and deadly diseases." I know that I can trust the Lord in His word.

I keep saying, Jesus is here. He can see what I am going through and He expects me to call on Him.

God also said that if I have faith as little as a mustard seed, I can move mountains.

I believe this does not just apply to me. Whatever you are going through, I believe a relationship with the Lord     our God is the best way to take on everything in life.

We should have an attitude of receiving and trust.

Truly inspired!

He replied, "You give them something to eat." They answered, "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish--unless we go and buy food for all this crowd."

I love the way Jesus gets his disciples' attention. "You feed them, boys!" Of course they knew that they couldn't! Yet Jesus showed them that if they brought their meager resources to him, they could do amazing things. When the big picnic was over, each of them got to pick up a basket full of leftovers from the table of God's grace! Let's remember that it isn't the challenge or the resources that limit us; it's our unwillingness to bring what we have to Jesus and trust that he will do something with us to bless others in ways we couldn't have dreamed! (cf. Ephesians 3:20-21)

I just read this today from verse of the day. I am so amazed that God truly blesses me with messages when I talk to Him. I just got through a rough afternoon and have been tempted to worry about the future again. I have little hope of overcoming my fear, but now, I present it all to God, the little that I have, so that He may multiply it to more than I can imagine and with leftovers to share with other people. 

i will not let one day bother the whole of my life and the progress I have made of overcoming my worries. I truly believe, that the problem is our unwillingness to trust that everything is okay. Most especially when things are out of our control. Now i know for a fact that, I may be out of control, but God is ALWAYS in control. I have but to trust in Him. He will never put me through something I cannot handle. When He gives me a trial, it already means that I can handle it through Him.

The problem with other people is, they want to do it themselves. They want to overcome by themselves. And so when they refuse God's help, everything goes out of hand. I want to fully and completely surrender to God. Making all thoughts and things about me obedient to Him.

Jesus will always keep me company in all struggles. I know that the battle we fight is not physical. And the battle should first be won within ourselves before we win it outside. 

Dear Father,

Thank you for your message. I pray for strength and endurance to run the race and accomplish your purpose for me. Though trials may come, I will trust in You.