reflection

Ang Pagtahak sa Disyerto

Unang Linggo ng Kwaresma—Taon K
14 Pebrero 2016

Feb 14

Graphics by Asp. Paul Lopez, Don Bosco Seminary Canlubang.

Ngayon ay unang Linggo ng Panahon ng Kwaresma.
Ngayon din, ipinagdiriwang natin ang Linggo ng mga Mandarayuhan.
Sige na nga … Ngayon din ay Araw ng mga Puso.

Alam ba ninyo kung bakit February ang month of love? Kasi daw pag ni-rumble mo yung February, nagiging ‘forever.’ Try nyo nga … 

‘Di ba walang lumabas? Wala kasing ganun.

Galing po iyon sa isa kong kaibigan sa Facebook. Pero naniniwala akong marami pa rin dito ang nagmamahal kahit na paulit-ulit na nasasaktan. Marami pa rin sa ating handang ipaglaban ang #forever.

Kapag umiibig po tayo, hindi maiiwasang hindi balikan ang nakaraan. Namnamin ‘yung unang pagtatagpo, balik-balikan ang matatamis na ngiti, lingunin ang masasayang ala-ala.

Sa unang pagbasa, kasabay ng pag-aalay ng mga Israelita ng kanilang mga unang ani, ay ang kanilang pagbabalik-tanaw sa kung sino sila … Nagsimula sila bilang isang maliit na bayang pakalat-kalat lang. Pinahirapan sila ng mga Egipcio. Inalipin. Ngunit sa kanilang pagdulog sa Diyos, natikman nila ang kabutihang loob Nito.

At sa kabila ng tuyong lupain ng disyerto, nanalig sila sa Panginoon. At ang pananalig na ito ay ginatimpalaan ng Diyos. Dinala Niya sila sa isang lupaing sagana.

Ganito rin ang patunay sa atin ni San Pablo sa ikalawang pagbasa–“Hindi mabibigo ang sinumang nananalig sa Kanya.” At talaga naman pong ang patotoo ng mga taong tunay na sumasampalataya sa Diyos ay talaga namang nagbibigay ng lakas ng loob. Estudyante po ako ng theology. Pinag-aaralan po namin ang Diyos sa classroom. Pero madalas po, doon lang po namin Siya nasisilayan. Pero ‘yung mga taong nakilala kong hindi nga man lang kumuha ng Fundamental Theology, ipinapakita nila sa aking buhay ang Diyos sa buhay nila at araw-araw nila Itong kasama.

Noong nakaraang Linggo, kung naaalala pa ninyo sa Mabuting Balita, pinababa ni Hesus kay Pedro ang lambat upang makahuli siya ng isda. Nang ginawa ito ni Pedro, hindi lamang siya nakahuli ng napakaraming isda, doon niya lang din napagtanto kung sino ang nasa harap niya. At batid niyang wala siyang karapatang tumayo malapit sa kanya.  Naibulalas niya, “Lumayo ka sa akin Panginoon, ako’y isang makasalanan.”

Ang disyerto ay isang lugar kung saan mapag-iisa tayo. Maitutuon nito ang atensyon natin sa mga mas mahahalagang bagay. Ganito ang nangyari kay Moises, sa mga propeta, kay Juan Bautista, maging kay San Francisco ng Assisi, at sa marami pang ibang naghanap ng kahulugan sa buhay ay piniling lumagi dito. Sa pamamagitan ng disyerto, hindi lamang mas nakikilatis natin ang sarili natin, sa pamamagitan din nito mas nakikilala natin ng higit ang Diyos.

Ngayong Linggo, sa isang disyerto ang pinangyarihan kung saan sinubok ang ating Panginoon. Narinig natin sa Mabuting Balitang na ang Espiritu Santo mismo ang nagdala dito kay Hesus. Alam ng Panginoon ang biyayang dala ng disyerto. Ngunit maging sa sagradong lugar na ito ay naroroon din ang demonyo. Tatlong tukso ang inihanda nito para sa Panginoon. Ngunit pinatunayan ni Hesus na buhay ang Diyos sa buhay Niya. At gaano man kaakit-akit ang panunukso sa Kanya ng demonyo, hindi Siya bumigay. Ito rin ang paanyaya sa atin. Ito rin ang hamon para sa bawat isa sa atin.

Sa pagsisimula natin sa Panahon ng Kwaresma, maituturing din natin ito bilang isang paglalakbay sa disyerto—isang panahon ng pag-lalim. Nawa po, ang susunod na mga araw ng Panahong ito ay pagkakataon upang mapagtuunan natin ng pansin ang ating kaluluwa.

Ngayong panahon po, sa seminaryo namin may mga kaibigan akong magpapatuloy. Pero mayroon din namang lalabas muna. Naalala ko po ang sabi sa akin ng isang pari noong papasok pa lang ako. Kapag iniisip ko na daw pong lumabas, alalahanin ko daw ang dahilan kung bakit ako pumasok sa loob. Alam po ninyo, isa po iyon sa mga bagay na inaalala ko kapag dumaraan ako sa pagsubok.

Sa mga sandaling gusto na ninyong sumuko, sa pagkakataong pagod na kayo, ano nga ho ba ang dahilan kung bakit ninyo pinili ang buhay na ito? Ang sagot po ay nasa unang pagbasa—ala-ala—balikan natin ang kagandahang loob ng Diyos at patuloy tayong manalig sa Kanyang katapatan.

Ang ating pagdiriwang ng Banal na Misa ay isang konkretong patunay na patuloy Niya tayong iniibig. Nananatili Siyang tapat sa atin.

At katulad po ng karanasan ni Hesus sa ating Mabuting Balita, nawa’y pagkatapos ng 40 araw ng ating paghahanda, mas maging makahulugan sa atin ang isang bagong buhay sa piling ng Diyos.

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Si Kristo ang Liwanag ng Buhay!

Misang Pang-hatinggabi

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Graphics by Christian Decena. 

Nakalunok po ba kayo ng kwitis? Pag ngumiti po kasi kayo, may spark.

May theory po sa physics na nagsasabing “light travels faster than sound.” Kung hindi po ako nagkakamali, si Albert Einstein ang nagsabi na wala na daw pong hihigit pa sa bilis ng liwanag. Kaya nga po nauuna ang pagdating ng kidlat, at saka, matapos ang ilang segundo, doon pa lang darating ang dagundong ng kulog.

Ganito rin sa mga paputok. Makikita natin ang pagsambulat ng nakakasilaw na liwanag sa alapaap, pagkatapos, saka pa lang natin maririnig ang pag-putok nito.

Kataka-taka dahil kanina pa tayo nandirito, at pansin natin na balot na balot po ang ating pagdiriwang ng Banal na Misa ngayon ng liwanag. Kapansin-pansin ito, hindi lamang dito sa ating altar na napapalamutian ng sari-saring ilaw. Pansin din natin ang mismong tema nito sa ating liturhiya ngayong gabi. Kahit na sa ating mga pagbasa’y walang naman tayong narinig na mga pasabog.

Sa unang pagbasa, narinig natin mula sa Aklat ni Propeta Isaias na ang isang bayang matagal nang nababalot ng kadiliman ay makakatanaw ng isang malaking liwanag.

Noong Lunes, nawalan ng loob ang marami sa atin nang tinawag si Ms. Colombia bilang nanalong si Ms. Universe. Ngunit nang i-anunsyo ng host na mayroong isang pagkakamali—at si Ms. Philippines ang siyang dapat na mag-uwi ng—lubos tayong natuwa. Nagalak tayo bilang isang bansa. Para tayong isang bayang naghihintay ng pagka-tagal-tagal sa kadiliman. Ngunit nang naiputong sa ulo ni Ms. Philippines ang korona, nakatanaw tayo ng isang napakalaking liwanag.

May isang high school graduate na gustong pumasok ng seminaryo. Araw ng pasukan noon ng mga bagong seminarista. At sa gitna ng napakaraming mga panauhin sa seminaryo namin na naghahatid ng mga bagong pasok na seminarista, isang seminarista ang lumapit sa akin, “Brother, may isa pong ayaw payagan ng parents niya. Samahan ninyo po ako. Sunduin natin siya.” Hindi po ganun ang regular na gawi namin na ang isa sa mga seminary formators ay magsusundo ng mga aplikante upang dalhin sa seminaryo. Pero mayroong nagbulong sa aking, samahan ko ang seminaristang iyon.

Pagdating ko sa bahay nila, nakita ko ang kahirapan ng kanilang buhay.  Masikip ang kanilang bahay. Maliliit pa ang kaniyang mga kapatid. At si Levi ang pinaka-kuya sa kanila. Bus driver ang tatay niya, at ang nanay naman niya’y walang hanapbuhay. Nang tinanong ko kung bakit ayaw siyang payagang pumasok ng seminaryo, luhaang sinabi sa akin ng nanay niyang mahirap lang sila at wala silang maipapantustos sa pag-aaral nito… Naiiyak na rin po ako noong sandaling iyon. Pero lakas loob kong sinabi sa nanay ni Levi na “Subukan po natin ang kabutihan ng Diyos. Siya ang bahala.”

Limang taon na rin halos ang dumaan nang naganap iyon. Nakatapos na siya ng kursong Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education. Isa na rin siyang licensed teacher. Nasa loob pa rin siya ng seminaryo at naghahanda para maging isang novice. Tumaya siya at ang kanyang pamilya sa pag-asang hatid Diyos. Nakatanaw sila ng isang liwanag.

Ngunit ang liwanag na isinasaad ni Propeta Isaias ay hindi lamang kumakatawan sa pagkakapanalo sa isang paligsahan ng pagandahan o pagpasok ng seminaryo. Higit pa ang liwanag na tinutukoy ni Isaias dito. Sa kanyang paglalahad, “Sapagkat ipinanganak para sa atin ang isang sanggol na lalaki.” At ang sanggol na iyon ang “Makapangyarihang Diyos.”

Sa ikalawang pagbasa, nanghihikayat si San Pablo sa kanyang liham na mabuhay tayong naaayon sa kalooban ng Diyos. Ipinapaalala niya sa ating ang liwanag  ng kanyang kagandahang-loob “ang siyang aakay sa ating talikdan ang likong pamumuhay at damdaming makalaman.” Sa pamamagitan ng liwanag na taglay ni Kristo, malalaman natin ang daan patungo sa Ama, at daang magdadala sa atin upang isantabi ang hidwaan, upang magpatawad, upang maging liwanag din sa ibang mga kapatid nating nadidiliman ng landas.

Ngunit hindi lahat ng liwanag ay nagbibigay ng gabay. May liwanag na mapag-balatkayo. Nang-aakit, upang mailigaw tayo.

Mayroon po akong nakilalang isang ina sa parokya kung saan ako naka-assign kapag weekend. Umiiyak siyang nag-share sa akin ng problema tungkol sa kanyang anak na gumon sa ipinagbabawal na gamot. Nananakit na ito ng mga apo niya sa bahay. At nag-bebenta na ng kung ano-ano pa upang may maipantustos sa bisyo. Ang liwanag na dulot ng droga ay panandalian lang.

Gayundin ang liwanag na taglay ng maka-sariling ambisyon, ng hindi pagrespeto sa mga maliliit dahil sa napakataas na tingin sa sarili, ng pagiging ganid sa salapi at materyal na bagay—mag-iingat po tayo, dahil madalas—ang mga taong umaangkin dito ay inaangkin din nito. Nakakatakot, dahil nabubulag nito ang mga taong lumalapit at nahuhumaling dito.

Sa ating Mabuting Balita, malaki din ang papel ng liwanag na taglay ng isang anghel. Sa pamamagitan nito, naihayag sa mga nagpupuyat na pastol ang isang napakagandang balitang magdudulot ng malaking kagalakan sa lahat ng tao: Isisilang na ang tagapagligtas–Ang Kristong Panginoon.

Alam po ninyo, ang mga pagbasang ating napakinggan ay taon-taon nating ginagamit. Pero hindi tayo nagsasawang pakinggan ang mga ito, siguro dahil hinding hindi natin pagsasawaan ang kuwento ng pasko!

Hindi lamang isang mainam na story teller si Lucas, isa rin siyang historian. At sa tagpong ito ng Mabuting Balita, nais niyang patunayan sa ating naganap ang Pasko sa kasaysayan ng sangkatauhan.  Sa pagsisimula ng Mabuting Balita, maingat ni isinama ni San Lucas ang pangalan ng pinuno ng Roma at ng Syria upang ilagay sa konteksto ng kasaysayan ng mundo ang pagkakatawang-tao ng ating Panginoong Hesu-Kristo.

Hindi lang sumulpot na lang ang Panginoon nang basta, isinilang Siya sa isang tunay na lugar, sa isang sabsaban sa Bethlehem at sa panahong kung kailan na ang emperador ng Roma na sumasakop sa Israel ay si Augustus Ceasar.

Binalot niya ng lampin ang sanggol at inihiga sa isang sabsaban, sapagkat wala nang lugar para sa kanila sa bahay-panunuluyan. Maikli lang ang pagsasalarawang ito ni San Lucas, pero ito mismo ang magsisilbing palatandaan upang matunton ng mga pastol ang bagong silang na Panginoon.

Sa maraming paraan, hindi maaalis sa atin ang kagustuhan nating makakita ng pasabog. Dapat may wow factor. Dapat makulay. Dapat kapansin-pansin; ‘yun bang mapapalingon ang mga tao.

Pero hindi ito ang gawi ng Diyos. Nang pumasyal Siya sa atin bilang katulad natin, naging isang sanggol na bata Siya. Mahina. Maliit. At ang kasama sa guest list niya ay hindi mga prinsipe’t prinsesa, kundi mga simpleng pastol na nagbabantay ng kanilang mga kawan, na nagpupuyat sa gabi.

Mga kapatid, huwag tayong umasang dumarating ang Diyos na kasabay na mayroong pasabog. Hindi masamang maniwala na ang Diyos ay ang responsable sa pag-hilom ng mga maysakit, o sa pagkakaroon ng mga himala. Ngunit huwag sana lang tayong maghanap ng Diyos sa mga ganoong pangyayari. Sapagkat ang Diyos ay naroroon din sa mga pagkakataong naghahari ang katahimikan, kung saan namumuhay ang mga tao ng ordinaryo.

May mga pagkakataong mamamalas lamang natin ang presensiya ng Diyos sa pamamagitan ng pag-ibig at pananampalataya. Ang mga ordinaryong pastol ay nakita ang isang bagay na hindi nakita ng marami.

Mamaya po, itataas ni Fr. ang tinapay, ilan kaya sa atin ang luluhod o mag-lalagay ng kanilang mga kamay sa tapat ng kanilang puso dahil sumasampalataya silang tunay na tunay na Katawan ito ng Panginoon?

Ang Pasko ay kapistahan ng liwanag. Sapagkat si Hesus ang mismong ilaw na walang simula, at kailanpanman, hinding hindi Siya magkakaroon ng katapusan.

At dahil narito Siya, manampalataya tayo sa liwanag na taglay Niya. Magkakaroon ulit tayo ng pag-asa. At mayroon tayong dahilang umibig ulit dahil nakalasap tayo ng pag-ibig na kailanma’y hindi naglagay ng hangganan sa kabila ng ating kabuktutan.

 

How are we to live as Christians?

9 September 2015
Col 3:1-3
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In my apostolate stint at St Jose Parish, I met a grandmother who is in her 80s. Her husband died some years ago, when, in one drinking spree, he was stabbed to death by her very own son-in-law.

Her husband died even before they could bring him to the hospital.

When she was narrating the details, I noted that her voice was weak and her gestures frail, but her sad eyes couldn’t fail to express the pain that incident has caused her.

Her next words caught me by surprise, she says, “My son-in-law was imprisoned for some time because of that—but he is now free... I have forgiven him… If I would not, he will surely rot in jail. And who would provide for my grandchildren?

Such a courageous act of forgiveness—of letting go of the pain, and of the hurt, and of the anger—simply because there is something more powerful than all these.

Today we heard a delightful set of readings: St Paul’s letter to the Colossians reinforces the beautiful but bold message of St Luke’s portrait of Jesus, which leads us to confront this question: How are we to live as Christians?

Let us pray, that the way we answer this question today may truly become a beautiful expression of our praise to the Lord.

Psalm 139

Today’s the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist. Examining the set of readings in the liturgy today, the psalm has particularly called my attention.

Mt. Batulao at Dusk.

                                                                     Mt. Batulao at Dusk.

This psalm is one of my favorites. It reminds me of a God who loves me, and that He has thought of me even before I came into existence.

I recall that when I had my retreat two weeks ago, the first two lines jumped out of the page and called my attention:

O Lord, you know me:
You have scrutinized me.

The Lord didn’t just come to know me because of His sheer power, but that He spent time thinking about me.  This psalm wrapped me in gratitude for my existence alone, and more so, realizing that He has called me to this state of life.

SJ Priest: 6 Bits of Advice for Deacons

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Looking for articles to read about the diaconate, fate brought me one afternoon to this article in which “six bits of advice” were offered by the Jesuit Priest Fr Bill McGarry to a group of young Jesuits waiting to be ordained as deacons. It may be found here.

I thought of posting them here for my own source of nourishment as I look forward to the D day, which is just 10 days from now.

1. Learn to wash peoples’ feet. Get on your knees and wash the feet and look up to the people you serve. Never look down on them. Our ordination to the diaconate is not your initiation into a club or caste of noblemen. You are commissioned by this ordination to be a servant. Servants are not supposed to look down. They wait at table standing up but the attitude is one of looking up, not down. Please remember that priestly ordination does not erase your status as a deacon. Nor will your ordination as a bishop or election as Cardinal or Pope. You will always be a deacon, always a servant. Beware of clericalism. My experience is that practically all my penitents in confession are better Christians than I.

2. Please don’t rejoice that studies are over. I hope that they never will be over for you. Too many priests short-change their parishioners by not keeping up to date or not trying to get deeper and deeper into the Word of God. Some bore the faithful almost to tears. Read books and articles? Yes. But most importantly use your ears more that your mouth and learn from people, especially the poor but also everybody, even dithery old men. I believe that praxis/reflection is the best book you can read. You try to change yourself or apostolic situations and then reflect on what you learned from that praxis. Never skip the Examen.  Of course, the best way to do praxis/reflection is to do it with others, your fellow Jesuits, your partners in the apostolate. Do it with others. I suspect that this practice would eliminate the need of many sabbaticals. You learn on the job.

3. Multi-tasking except in very moderate forms is a synonym for superficiality or inferior service. Father General is begging us for depth, the enemy of superficiality. Sometimes rather heavy multi-tasking becomes a temporary necessity. But it should always be temporary unless we want superficiality or inferior service to become a policy. No time for prayer, study, reflection, serious conversation with the brethren, rest? If this ever happens, drop something, like TV, Face Book, surfing, or ask your superior for relief. These things we say we have no time for cannot be dropped responsibly. We’re called to depth in our lives and work.

4. Our much-loved church (That means us.) tends lately to be quite expert in communicating bad news, I hope you Deacons will become expert at communicating good news. Want to help the world and the church? Be a witness to the resurrection. We are sent to bring good news, THE Good News. Take care of your emotional health. You can’t communicate the good news with a glum face. Pray to be cheerful.

5. When I was one-and-twenty I heard a wise man say, ‘Give crowns and pounds and guineas but not your heart away… But I was one-and-twenty; no use to talk to me. …I heard him say again, ‘The heart out of the bosom was never given in vain. ‘Tis paid with sighs a plenty and sold for endless rue. And I am two-and-twenty and oh ‘tis true, ‘tis true.” Excessively pessimistic? I think so. Too selfish? I think so. However if you with your celibate chastity want to be happy and avoid endless rue, I ask you to try not to fall in love. “’Tis paid with rue, maybe not endless but tends to bring great sadness. A.E. Housman wrote that poem and he seems to have been selfishly self-protective. Hold on to your hearts but don’t spend your life in cold self-protection. Love people. Mix with people. Be their friend. But hold on to your heart not for the sake of protection fromliebesschmertz, but in order that you may warmly love and serve many and with a joyful face.

6. I strongly recommend Karl Rahner,Der Glaube des Priestes Heute, Orientierung 1962, Translated in Woodstock Letters with the title, “The Faith of the Priest Today”. This has turned out to be something like a charter for priesthood for me. It really talks about the depth we’ve mentioned above. It talks about walking with and learning from and with the people of the world of today. It repeats what Father Arrupe said about choosing tough over soft ministries. It agrees with the mission given to the Society by Paul VI to combat Atheism. It led the 32nd General Congregation to tell us clearly that our mission today is the Service of Faith and that Promotion of Justice which Faith includes. It is another reason for serious study. It asks us to face the fact that secularism and agnosticism are on the rise in all of our countries. We need to see that we Jesuits are not called just to repeat what other church people are doing no matter how wonderful these apostolates are. We should do what others don’t do for whatever reason. I think we are called to many kinds of people but I judge that the highest priority is to the poor, those allergic to the church, to agnostics. Yes, always the poor but also in the words of Father Rahner, “It is by entering into the world of today, and being with men in their difficulties, their anxieties, their doubts, that we can bring this world to faith, and not by posing as somehow different….Our faith must be such that even the unbeliever cannot deny that here a man believes who is like himself, a man of today, on whose lips the word God does not come easily or cheaply, who doesn’t think he has mastered everything, and in spite of all this, rather because of all this, he believes.”  A hard challenge but we can only do our best with the talents we have. At least no canonizations of saving the saved, superficial multi-tasking, only the majus servitium.

Simply Worth Remembering (A Birthday Speech)

Here’s my undelivered birthday speech for this year. 🙂 

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Taken during the 2015 Perpetual Profession at St. John Bosco Parish in Makati City. Photo by Mr. Jan Odivilas

Since I was appointed as the custodian of our newly restored community library, I thought that I should set a good example. And so, last vacation, I don’t know when exactly it was, I picked this little book from one of the recommended readings for the fourth year brothers. Written by Henri Nouwen,   it’s entitled The Living Reminder.

“The book is intensely profound,” this I remarked after skimming through the first lines of its preliminary pages. And I thought that, for me to digest it thoroughly, so that I could share something insightful in my first rendiconto with Fr Henry, I felt that I needed to write down passages from the book which caught my fancy.

And before I knew it, I already filled up nine pages of valuable lines from the book. That’s how powerful the pen of Nouwen is. That, it fills up the ink of my very own. And so, last night, after arriving from Batulao, when I couldn’t decide what kind of birthday speech to deliver, I was not just limited in choosing between a thank you speech or a sorry speech. Thanks to him, I have a third option to explore.

And so, let me share this wisdom from Nouwen, linking it up with the occasion, that is, my birthday, using my own voice:

The older we grow the more we have to remember, and at some point we realize that most, if not all, of what we have is memory. Our memory plays a central role in our sense of being. Our pains and joys, our feelings of grief and satisfaction, are not simply dependent on the events of our lives, but also, and even more so, on the ways we remember these events.

This is my last birthday speech for the community. I am 100 % sure that I will no longer be here next year. And I am also sure that I’ll bring with me to my new assignment the memories I have over the past three years in this community, and the memories which the next 10 months will yield for me.

Our pains and joys, our feelings of grief and satisfaction, are not simply dependent on the events of our lives, but also, and even more so, on the ways we remember these events.

But memories speak of the past. Yet, we are here in the present. And so, let the memories we shall fashion now be something truly worth remembering so that when we advance in the future where we no longer have each other, we could manage to pause and look back to the years of the theological formation we have spent in the Seminaryo and whisper to ourselves that those years are simply worth remembering.

A Portrait of Jesus as a Lover

This piece was originally a sermonette I delivered eight years ago. I was a novice back then.
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I was still a young aspirant in Canlubang when I first heard a joke about the Salesians of Don Bosco. The joke goes like it will be difficult for the Salesians to be successful in running medical centers due to the possible names of their supposed hospitals:

Don Bosco General Hospital: Give me souls, take away the rest.
Savio Medical Center: Death, rather than sin.

Titles are very important because they convey the first and crucial impression we wish to impart to people. Without us even explaining them, they suggest ideas; they form opinions in our very minds.

Over the centuries, mankind has assigned various titles to Jesus. I got across this site claiming there are about 144 names and titles attributed to Christ in the Bible.

Jesus (his name literally means “Yahweh saves”) is known in His many titles:

He is the Nazarene.
He is also known as the Lamb of God.
He is the Bread of Life.
The Word of God.
The Wonderful Counselor.
The last Adam.
He is the only begotten Son.
The Bridegroom.
He is the Emmanuel.
He is the Messiah.
He is the Christ.

The list goes on and on; His title is indeed a legion.

These titles must have been given by individuals who have felt His real and divine presence in their lives and eventually have become intimate with their dealing with Him.

As a human being, I guess, Jesus is romantic. He showered Peter with good words when the latter professed that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus also addressed John the Evangelist as “His beloved.”

And as Divine, He is intimate. We know in the Scriptures that before He created us, He readied first our dwelling. He made sure that our essential needs for survival are within our reach.

I think his being romantic and intimate is one of the reasons why he himself requested that He be honored in an image of a lover, when He revealed His most Sacred Heart to St. Mary Margaret Alacoque.

But one would ask, why of all His organs, would He wish us to honor His heart? Why not His most sacred hands? Or His most sacred feet, or his most sacred fingers?

The heart

The heart was historically seen by some as the seat of the soul and the organ responsible for human thought. The Romans for example noticed that emotions often corresponded with changing heart rates such as fear, love and excitement. It is now known that the heart has nothing to do with thought or love, people still carry on using the term “heart” metaphorically when talking about love.[1]

But why is the Heart of Jesus selected as the object of our special adoration?

His real and physical Heart is a natural symbol of the infinite charity of the Savior and of His interior and spiritual life. The heart is a vital organ which, as it throbs within us, is part of our existence.

The reason of taking the Sacred Heart of our Savior as an object of our worship is not only because it is a part of His body, but because it symbolizes His love for all mankind. His heart symbolizes His great love for us.

In her vision, St. Mary Margaret described the Heart of Jesus. It was heavily pierced and bleeding, yet there were flames, too, coming from it and a crown of thorns surrounding it.

Let me, at this point, characterize his love for us.

Vulnerability

The thorns encircling His heart mark his vulnerability, his weakness.

He came into our world not as a Superman. He was brought in as a feeble infant, dependent on the care of His parents. He even got lost at one point. He was very much involved in our affairs as humans. And I guess, at many times, He was also disappointed. He experienced pain. He suffered.

At times, when we open our hearts, we run the risk, too, of being hurt; of being rejected; of being disappointed that after giving all our hearts to an endeavor, we end up as a failure.

Jesus is indeed a perfect lover. He gave His love down to its final drop until He couldn’t longer give anything more that He breathed His last. He was a big failure; and He willingly failed because of His great love for us.

Loves unconditionally

The little cross pressed just above His burning heart symbolizes his unconditional love.

Sixteenth century Calvinism and seventeenth century Jansenism preached a distorted Christianity that substituted for God’s love and sacrifice of His Son for all men the fearful idea that a whole section of humanity cannot escape God’s punishment.

The Church always countered this view with the infinite love of our Savior who died on the cross for all of us. The institution of the feast of the Sacred Heart was soon to contribute to the creation among the faithful of a powerful current of devotion which since then has grown steadily stronger.[2]

The love of Christ is not followed by the conjunctions because or if. It is always punctuated with a period. He loves because he is love.

Will-driven love

The love of Jesus is not propelled by mere nostalgia or superficial sentimentalities; it is founded on His decision to die for our sins, to give glory to the Father. It is a decision that came from His free will. He could have opted to have a second option in exchange of His love. But He swallowed the bitter pill—and the rest is history. We are saved!

According to Albus Dumbledore, the former headmaster of Hogwarts, our decision, our choice, and not our abilities defines who we are.

At times, we are presented with a difficult situation to love especially when the person in front of us does not deserve our love. However, we are provided with a good model of a lover.

Christ chose to love. He is love.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have mercy on us.

[1] Wikipedia

[2] Catholic Culture