Sunday, April 28, 2013

It is for you... suffering, sacrifices, prayer

How many times have we ever heard these words:
"Suffering is personal. Sacrifice is for others.Prayer is for God." (St. Gertrude the Great)
Many times when we make major decisions we consider the possible pros and cons of the decision (at least I hope so). More often than not we see ourselves in the scenario... "what if I decide this way or what if I do this way?" I often think, do we also consider the impact of our decision to the people that may be affected by it? Especially if those are the people that mean a lot to us? Like if we are adult and single -- our parents; if we are married -- our wife or husband and children? Or even in friendship -- our friends who accompany us live life each day, after all friendship is a gift from God.

I was in Ohio for few weeks helping out in one long-term care facility that has decided to close down. A friend's relative has a son, a young 54 year old man who has MS and is a resident in this long-term care facility. The man's mother is an elderly living in one of the homes for the elderly run by a religious organization. To cut the story short, the 54 year old MS patient is among those over 100 residents that the state was relocating to other facilities. It actually was a sad event seeing so many sick young and elderly being moved out to an unknown places for care simply because the facility they are now could not afford the cost of operation because of the health care system's highly regulated cost reimbursement.

The man's mother was hoping to have her son live with her in her place. She desires to take care of him but she knows it is not possible. He needs more care than she can provide and she knows he is just waiting for his time.  He is terminal.

I went to visit the old lady in her apartment which was located not far from where her son lives. As soon as she opened her door it was the picture of her son on the wall welcomed me as well as this beautiful saying beside her son's photo. With her permission, I took a picture of it. " Parting is when someone you love leaves you with a new presence and you are forever together apart."

I thought of this words when I remember St. Gertrude's words "suffering is personal; sacrifice is for others; prayer is for God."

Isn't it true, there are decisions that are within our control but there are decisions that we are bound to accept, beyond our power yet we accept it for we believe that it is for a common good.

This mother is suffering deep within herself because of the love of a mother to her son yet she knows it is for her son's good to find a place where his needs can be taken cared for -- not with her in her apartment. Suffering is personal. She feels it, she suffers in silence of letting go of her son that way. Sacrifice is for others. She sacrifice not being close to him for his own good. She prays and abandons herself and her son to God. Hoping God will make things better for both of them. She lives hoping against hope that God will never abandon those who love him.

" It is for you...."  These words carry a lot of weight... 

It is for you, that I suffer quietly.
It is for you, that I sacrifice my desire to be with you.
It is for you, that I pray to God that in parting now we can be forever together apart and in heaven we
                       shall meet again where there is no more pain of separation.

I remember Jesus' words to his disciples "it is for your own good that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Paraclete will not come to you, but if I go, I will send Him to you." (John 16:7)

I  could hear Jesus says this to each of us:

 It is for you, that my Father sent me to the world
It is for you, that I embrace the Calvary and the Cross for it is my love that says this is the way to be with you one day in heaven
It is for you, that I endure the separation so that one day we can be together forever as I welcome 
         you  in heaven.

      "I can't wait" 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Discernment: What is the right thing to do?

To respond to love or not to love?

Look at the man that was fastened to the Cross... He loves us yet quietly he raised his arms fearlessly and died for us ... because of LOVE. That we may have a way to go back to where we belong ... to Him and the Father in Heaven after our journey here on earth is over.

The cross is not a sign of defeat. I see it as a concrete sign of the triumph of Love that lasts for eternity.

What do is the right thing to do?

----Be an instrument of Love ---

Let go and Let the Master take hold of you

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Three lives, intertwined, they were confronted with a decision, each had a crossroad, they've crossed them and nothing was ever the same again

They were friends. They've known each other for a good few years. They shared lives, ate meals together, walked the journey together. There were nights where they had no place to stay, there in the wilderness they retired for the night. They were happy, sharing beliefs that gave them courage to stick together and continue the journey of knowing, believing, witnessing and sharing. It must have been such a beautiful friendship I imagine. Wherever they went they shared everything from hunger when food was scares; cold when dwelling was not available. I think the expression "all for one and one for all" was once theirs. Until one night each one of them was confronted with a difficult choice, a decision. Three lives, intertwined with each other yet as faced by a crucial decision, each took a different route, each saw, thought and reasoned differently and there at the crossroad, each chose different path and the rest is a story to tell.

I'm sure we all can relate to these three men.A beautiful friendship, probably now gone. Life goes on, decisions made have changed the path we've trod but still it gives us smile when memories come back or pain when disappointment was the memory we had.

Jesus, Peter and Judas, three good friends. Tradition says Judas was one of the closest friend of Jesus and that is why Jesus trust him to be the steward of the community's resources. They are poor. Judas must have earned the confidence of Jesus to be given such responsibility. Peter is known to all of us Christians by his primacy among Jesus' friends. Jesus see him as the rock where he will build His church. We know the story... Judas betrayed Christ to the Jewish authorities in return for thirty pieces of silver; the Gospels' accounts is silent as to his motives. Peter, "the rock" is there at the garden when Judas gives the kiss of betrayal and with his sword cut the ear of one of the soldiers. Bravery? Wait till he deny Jesus three times right at the moment when the Master needs him to defend him against the elders and priests who are interrogating him. "I don't know the man!" he said.

Jesus knew what was going to happen and it must have cost him so much to know that these two close and trusted friends of him will be the one who will lead him to Calvary. There, at the garden before Judas and Peter's human weaknesses overpowered them, Jesus prayed for strength and courage to do his father's will.

These three men were at the crossroad. Their friendship was put to the test."When we are on a crossroad , what we decide to do determines what comes next." -Jean Shenoda Bolen

Judas, having seen the impact of his betrayal of his Master and friend couldn't forgive himself. Overcome with remorse, he later committed suicide by hanging, and was buried in the potter's field.

Peter as soon as the cock crowed and he saw Jesus  looked at him with love and understanding and without a word. He probably saw the Master's love for him and remembered the words that Jesus'  said " I prayed for you Peter for Satan is asking for you." Peter cried in sorrow and repentance.

Jesus, in his humanity have asked the Father the possibility to let this "night" pass by him yet, he freely submitted himself to the will of his Father " not my will, but thine be done.." and there at the mount of Calvary, he gave up himself for love. "It is is finished...glorify thy name Father, the glory that I had even before time began."

Three men, three destiny - one led to his death; another to hope and Jesus to life.

God is Love. Love is God's name. Judas could have been saved if he only believed of this Love. He knew how serious was his sin and he couldn't believe that there is forgiveness for what he had done. It is said that the only person who cannot win forgiveness is the one who cannot forgive himself. If only he humbled himself and repented, he could have performed miracles just like the other chosen disciples. Jesus repeatedly say, "learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart". Humility and meekness that is all that Jesus is asking those who wishes to follow him. You and I.

Peter the rock, cried, repented and lived in hope. At the end of his life, there in Rome the eternal city where the heart of our faith is deeply founded, he gave up his life for the church. Crucified like his friend and master only he knew he is not worthy to be crucified the same way as Jesus, he asked to be crucified upside down.  Peter at the end of his life has proven that he is the "rock" where Jesus built his church.

Jesus in accepting God's will suffered everything in his humanity and in the end endured being deprived of any consolation from anybody including God the Father yet, he trusted God and drank the cup that was handed to him. Three days later, he came back, resurrected from the dead, lived forever.

 One died... another lived... and Jesus, glorified.

Do you see the difference of the decisions they made and how their decisions affected one another? Three lives, three decisions and nothing was ever the same after that night.

"Do you love me Peter?" Jesus asked the repentant pillar of the church.
"You know everything, you know that I love you." Peter replied to the Risen Christ.

If love, pure love, unselfish love, self-forgetful love for the good of another is the foundation of every man's decision, my guess is that we shall always know which road to take when we are heading
towards our own crossroads. Only love saves. God did not need man when He created the world, yet he needed Jesus to become man in order to save us. His love for us knows no boundary.