July 7, 2018
Readings: Amos 9:11-15; Matthew 9:14-17
I thank Fr. Favie for giving me this privilege to jumpstart this Journey of Faith series in our community.
I anchored my sharing on the readings. And the readings of today’s liturgy speak of repairs.
This is quite obvious, particularly in the first reading. Despite the many big sins of Israel to God, God promised to rebuild it. He beckoned Israel to return to Him in His desire to patch up the broken relationship brought about by her past infidelities.
In the Matthean Gospel episode we just heard, we could infer into the purpose of the disciples of John the Baptist, as they went to Jesus to seek clarification about the reason why His disciples were not fasting. I see in this move an honest desire, not to nitpick, but to get into the bottom of things, to dialogue. To which, Jesus responded favorably, finding in this opportunity with the disciples of St. John a teachable moment, and a favorable time to forestall any perceived differences from his cousin’s end.
Allow me to share with you in this Journey of Faith some recent mending, fixing, and repairing God has been accomplishing in me.
Last summer, I asked Fr. Favie if I could attend the workshop on spiritual direction. In my mind, this would be a good opportunity to learn the practice in keeping with this year’s strenna of Listening and Accompaniment.
The length of the Spiritual Direction workshop lasted for two weeks. But before the workshop proper on Spiritual Direction, we had one week of going through a module they call Ushering in Encounters with God, which exposed the participants to various prayer methods. This is anchored on the presupposition that Spiritual Direction capitalizes on a life of prayer.
Halfway through the module, the spiritual exercises helped me realize how I have been at the crest of experiencing the proverbial dryness in the prayer life. How I gave priority to quantifiable outputs, and praying has been relegated to the peripheries.
I see that my being there in that workshop is God’s way of calling me back to return to Him and experience once more His intimate way of caring for His own.
In one of the prayer sessions, we were asked to go out of the hall and pray with nature. I sat before a pond. Marveling at the white lotus plants on its surface, I became aware of the ripples on the water caused by spider-looking insects that can suspend themselves on its surface. With the rhythm of the ripples on the water, I became mindful how this pond is like a mini universe pulsating with life, how it mirrors God’s work of creation that unfolds before my very eyes.
That realization brought deep consolation in me. God has been real before me with that first hand experience of His creation.
In the prayer exercises we carried out in the prayer workshop, the sense of serenity secures me, confident that the quality of this remarkable gift can only originate from God. I note how peace has become a consistent fruit of my prayers during those days, which echoes our response to the psalm today: The Lord speaks of peace to his people.
The dynamics of the workshop on Spiritual Direction required us to have our own spiritual guide, whom we met once every week. I was assigned to a 70-something lady who had worked as administrator at the Ateneo, and has a Jesuit priest son.
Her demeanor speaks of the God she aimed to represent, and she is an epitome of how a spiritual guide ought to listen to and accompany another soul desiring to encounter God. She reminded me of Tita Wilma Militante in her eagerness to listen to my experience of God and her gentleness in prompting me to search for answers.
In one of our sessions, she shared with me a book entitled Why Priests are Happy? written by Stephen Rosetti. One common answer of the priests interviewed was (1) They know who they are, and (2) they know whose they are, which refers to their primary central relationship.
She proceeded in sharing with me how she witnessed the fall of talented and gifted religious because they did not give priority to their prayer life.
After the workshop, I promised that my friendship with Jesus will be sustained by an intense, heart-to-heart prayer. A kind of prayer that has the power to radically change me.
This has been a big help for me to renew my commitment to God as His priest. That before I go out and accompany other people fix their spiritual lives, God needed first to do some necessary repairs in me.
God is not done with His repairing me. Last month, my mama had a stroke. And the MRI result showed that there is a clog in her spine. She might need a surgery to remove it. Otherwise, she might fall into a paralysis.
I ask for your prayers that this repair in the life of our family may take place neatly and swiftly–according to His holy plan.