Loved by the Father


Clipart from https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/

Homily
December 1, 2018
Readings: Rev 22:1-7; Luke 21:34-36

Last July 7, I jump-started the series of the Journey of Faith sharing in our community for this school year. I begin this first day of the brand new month–and the very last day of the liturgical year–doing the same.

The readings of today’s liturgy speak of vigilance, but not that kind which alerts us to some dangers ahead–but that which fills our hearts with longing for, and anticipation of what is to come.

The first reading, derived from the Book of Revelation, paints a picture that is filled with hope, and closes with this solemn declaration, “Blessed is the one who keeps the prophetic message of this book.”

The New Testament scholar William Barclay differentiates “happiness” with “blessedness.”

For him, “human happiness is something which is dependent on the chances and the changes of life, something which life may give and which life may also destroy.”

On the other hand, he sees Christian blessedness “as completely untouchable and unassailable. It speaks of that joy which seeks us through our pain, that joy which sorrow and loss, and pain and grief, are powerless to touch, that joy which shines through tears, and which nothing in life or death can take away.”

This crisp description of Barclay on what Christian blessedness is, made me relish its concreteness on the love shown by the parents to their children in last week’s Salubong.

After each section of that grade level finishes its retreat, we invite the parents of these students to come to the school so that they could pick their boys–and alongside, a somehow impromptu program is held to provide a fitting conclusion to the retreat.

Somewhere along the program, a parent is tasked to deliver a welcome address in behalf of all the parents.

Last week, the father who delivered the speech, began it in this manner:

Even before you were born, until now, your mom and I are your biggest fans. We became paparazzi taking a lot of photos and videos even before you walked your first steps. We are your biggest supporters and fans. With every developmental milestone you reached, like your first tooth, your first word, your first whatever – we revel in joy and celebration.

This same dad ended his speech with these words:

Know that we love you and will always be there for you. No matter what, we’ve got your back. You are our son and always will be. We adore you, and there is nothing you could possibly do to change that.

We can sense here the longing of the father to be reunited once again with his child… It may be a human father who spoke these moving lines, but if it were to be attributed to God the Father, it continues to sound perfectly alright. It continues to hold its gripping effect.

He continues to call us back to Himself. He is thrilled to welcome us again. In the responsorial psalm, we responded: “Come, Lord Jesus!” But could it also be that Jesus exclaims: “Come, Fr. Ben…” “Come, Fr. Degz… “Come, Fr. Favie!?

The Gospel we heard points us to that kind of alertness “at all times.” This year, I mark my first decade as a Salesian of Don Bosco.

This ten-year journey is peppered with ups and downs, of peaks and valleys–which never fails to mark how God has been a real picture of a doting Father.

At all times” are three words that alert me

  • To the Providence of the Father–of the beauty and greatness of the mission God has entrusted to me–to us–as Salesians;
  • To the veritable home this community has become to me;
  • To the friends I made among the lay mission partners, and even the students themselves;
  • To the lessons I valued carefully wrapped in setbacks and failures and mistakes;
  • To never fail to hope again after some disappointing blows life gives me at times.

I pray that my next ten years as a Salesian will be as beautiful, and as relevant as these ten years were.

But even if they would not be so, I remind myself, and be consoled, to the realization that I am loved by the Father, and He will always be there for me. No matter what, He got my back. I am His son and always will be. That I am adored by Him, and there is nothing I could possibly do to change that.

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