Over the weekend, a good friend gave me a book Imitation of Christ, a classic in Spirituality written by a monk named Thomas Kempis, which I’ve been meaning to have since I entered the seminary.
When I came home from the apostolate, I leafed through its pages and decided to devour the first chapter (as what the author recommended).
Immediately, these lines jumped out of the page:
But it happens that many, by frequent hearing of the gospel, are very little affected, because they have not the spirit of Christ. But he, who would fully and with joy understand the words of Christ, must study to make his whole life conformable to that of Christ.
I mulled these over and found myself agreeing.
Come to think of it, why is it that some individuals appear to have been more adjusted to listening to Christ? By this, I am not just talking about the physical listening we give whenever the Word of God is proclaimed in the Church. This is about how certain individuals’ lives seem to have been more touched by God than others, how some people appear to be a tad kinder and nicer if not holier than the rest.
When I was in the seminary in Canlubang, one thing I fancied looking at are the slippers left outside the adoration chapel. The explanation is this simple: several pairs of slippers outside means several seminarians are praying inside. But what is also saddening is that, day in and day out, the same slippers are left outside that one would memorize whose slippers are those; they only belong to few individuals who consistently visit the Blessed Sacrament.
Six years ago, I had this encounter with a middle aged mother. She conveyed to me the news that one of her sons was to enter the seminary. Although delighted with the news, she could not hide her concern since her son was the breadwinner of the family, and his entry to the seminary did not only mean losing someone who earns for the family, worse, it’s an additional burden for them to support him financially.
I met her again last Sunday and I was thrilled to ask about her son. She proudly told me that he has persevered, he finished his bachelors’ degree last March, and is in a far-flung island now to continue his seminary formation. She calmly told me that she has singlehandedly supported her son in his seminary formation all these years since she did not know whom to ask for help.
She has kept her trust in the Lord and from the looks of it, He has not abandoned them.
This Sunday, we hear these intimate words of Jesus, praising the Father for He has hidden things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants (Matthew 11:35).
Truly, it is surprising to see that the little ones like that mother could be more attuned to the things that come from the Father. The littlest blessings that come their way are greatly appreciated. The smallest token of kindness is equaled with utmost gratitude. Setting aside self-entitlement, every good that happens in their lives comes alone from the goodness of God, and something that they do not merit.
If something bad finds their way, they know that the God whom they believe, love and pray to will do something to lift them up from that condition.
When I was assigned in a resettlement area, there was a young boy, perhaps about 7 years old or even younger who would join our nightly formation. One Saturday evening, I saw that he was already in the brink of tears. Sensing that something was not right, I inquired from him. He told me that he was already hungry. As luck would have it for him, the boy who was selling lumpia was just around. I bought some for him. His face lightened up in gratitude. He then asked me the question: Kuya, pwede po bang iulam ito? Hindi pa rin po kasi kumakain yung bunso namin.
This little boy and that mother taught me valuable lessons.
They showed me how to genuinely trust the Lord and think of the welfare of others even if I myself am also in desperate need of it. Their simplicity made me see how some people may not be properly educated and yet they surpass the knowledge of the learned, only because of the Father’s gracious will and their dependence into it.