There’s Hope

“…but those who hope in the Lord  will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  – Isaiah 40:31

My work contract ends on March 31.  My bosses are working hard to keep me.  However, visa issues have kept them from making any promises if I’d stay or leave. 

If I’d manage to stay, I would survive a second redundancy case.  Being kicked out is nothing new.  Working in the Middle East as an expat is an uncertainty these days. In fact, it has been, the past couple of years.  My husband was actually one of the first casualties.

It’s sad considering we’re still way above our heads in debt.  And with my husband still unemployed, I should have worried myself to death, or to debt, for that matter.  To even imagine the prospect of being jobless as well, would have made me cringe.

But even I am surprised how the grace of God has given me the absolute trust that my husband and I are not alone in this plight.  I know that He sees what we are going through, and He will not leave us alone, helpless and hopeless.  

I don’t know what’s in it for me by the end of this month.  But God knows.  Because he had already written it long before I was even born.  He planned it for He is the architect of my life.

Surely His plans are not to harm me, but to prosper me.  Exactly how, only He knows.  And if only for that, I should not be afraid.  Because if I depend on what I know, there’s nothing but despair.

But in God, I lean on because only He knows what my purpose is.  Through Jesus Christ, who is the Way, I shall find it.

It’s All About Jesus

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
   that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
   and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.”  -Philippians 2:9-11

The first time I watched the movie “The Passion of the Christ” a few years back, I was shocked by how the events were presented.  The scenes from the agony in the garden to the moment that Jesus breathed His last, were just so detailed and yes, bloody.

Today I watched it again.  The experience is now entirely different.  It is personal and profound.  I almost ‘felt’ how Jesus suffered and died.  Every time the camera focused on His eyes, it was like Jesus was actually looking at me, so lovingly and forgiving.

It is the same movie that I watched, but on each instance, the experience is entirely different. What changed?  Life did.

In between both viewing, life have been teaching me lessons that make me ‘see’ clearer. I realized that no matter how weak and flawed I am, Jesus never gives up on me. His willingness to forgive is always greater than my desire to be forgiven.

Jesus proved that I am worthy to be saved, but unless I truly believe that indeed I am worthy and sin no more, He is patiently waiting for my complete turnaround.  He is faithful even when I am not.

Today is Good Friday.  It is a day of reflection on the passion of Jesus Christ, of gratitude for His sacrifice and repentance to be worthy of His perfect love.  Today I changed my site title from Angel119 to Everyday with Jesus.  Because I realized life is not about me, it is all about Him.  With His mercy, I shall carry my cross to remind me everyday that Jesus carried His because of me.

What Easter Means to Me

“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. ”  Luke 24:30-35

Today is Thursday after Easter Sunday. In the Middle East, it was a working Easter. That day being also the deadline for submission of month end reports, I struggled to keep my focus on the image of the risen Christ as I battle emails and phone calls, in between entering data to finish the tasks at hand. To top it all, my colleagues were on holiday and so my work load was multiplied like the bread to feed thousands.

By end of business hours, I was really exhausted but nonetheless, the Holy Spirit helped me through the day. So it happened that we were able to attend the 7pm Easter Mass. The smell of tires being burnt on the road leading to where Sacred Heart Church was located, dominated the festive atmosphere. That did not stop the hundreds who were inside the church compound to pray and praise God. And that was my Easter of 2015.

If the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a one day affair, I would really, really feel bad that a great number of hours on that day was taken up by my earthly duties. But as I continue to “follow” Jesus after He left the tomb, my eyes were opened.

Easter is our daily reminder that Jesus is alive and one day, we shall see His face when He comes again. My eyes were opened, that it is alright to fulfill our earthly duties when it glorifies God and the greater good comes out of it. My eyes were opened, that as we go about our daily lives, the Holy Spirit is ever present. Just like Jesus was, with Cleophas and his companion on their way to Emmaus.

Between life and death, we choose life. Easter is the life after Jesus Christ suffered and died on the Cross. We also died from our old selves during Lent and were renewed on Easter, forgiven of our sins when we repented sincerely. So therefore, let us celebrate Easter everyday so that the sacrifice of Jesus, the sign of His infinite and eternal love will ever be worth it.

UPCAT and other admission tests

“Because He himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.”  Hebrews 2:18

as graduating students this school year, Miguel and his batchmates have prepared really hard for college admission tests months ahead.  for UPCAT, he attended Brain Train review classes instead of enjoying his summer vacation.  for the test, together with other families, we travelled four hours to Riyadh and stayed overnight to prep the kids for the early morning schedule the following day at the embassy inside the Diplomatic Quarters.  the same for USTET and Mapua exam, just minus the travel time and overnight stay, but equals the stress, and excitement – or anxiety, depending on the level of preparedness for each student.  and the months of waiting for the results were just as heart-pounding as the exams themselves.

The Oblation

sadly, Miguel did not pass the UPCAT.  it’s human to feel so. but he did Mapua and we’re happy about that.  now we’re still waiting for USTET results.

when Miguel goes back to the Philippines after graduation, i can just guess how many more college admission tests he will take, and which university he will eventually enrol in.  at the end of the day, it’s really up to the Lord. our absolute trust is in Him.  His will be done…

it is understandable for the children, and for us parents, to be excited and hopeful about exam results.  although the outcome will not define their future, it is a crossroad where our children would inevitably have to decide on; to which direction they would take.

as parents, we too are given tests on and on.  some are easy, some are agonizing. some we pass.  but there are those that we fail miserably.  and when we do, it looks like we reach the end of the road and all we want to do is stop.   wouldn’t it be a shame to give our children that example?  that instead of us being their guide when they reach that crossroad, we, ourselves, drift away in our own road to perdition. 

Jesus Christ is the Son of God who became man.  and because he became man, He was subjected to tests.  like we are. no exemptions.  and He passed each test, to show us that we can too.

so next time we are given one, don’t hesitate to take it.  because if we pass, then we move on straight away. but if we fail, we will be given our second chance, and review where we went wrong.  both ways, we learn our lessons and become better persons. if we remain steadfast and constantly strive to be the best that we can for God, then we would surely pass the HAT – heaven admission test. 

the crowning with thorns

“The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head.  They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ And they struck him in the face.”  John 19:2-3

a crown is always associated with power and authority.  a symbol of one’s superiority over his subjects.  it stands for royalty, pride, grandeur, wealth and pomp. 

but not the crown of Jesus.  it was made of thorns that pierced his head and caused blood to gush on his face.  his crown was a symbol of humility,  sacrifice and love. 

as human beings, it is in our nature to be drawn to that shining, sparkling crown which looks  magnificent on top of our heads.  we think that just because we wear one,  everybody would look up to us. then it will lead us to think that we are far better than everybody else who does not wear one. 

(please take note: we may also refer to physical beauty, wealth, power, fame as our crown.) 

but what if that crown gets lost? maybe stolen or perhaps taken away? and what if that crown is the only  source of our pride and joy? of our confidence and security?  what then  becomes of us minus the crown?  we feel worthless.  we  feel empty.

the crown of Jesus is way too painful to wear.  it requires the greatest and absolute self-sacrifice.  a self-denial that does not diminish, but rather increases self-worth. 

in the natural order of life, we are all part of God’s grand design.  though we are easily attracted to what is superficial, our instincts also move us to reach out and look after one another.  it is when we go against this basic human compassion, that we begin to be less than what the Lord has planned us to be. 

it is when we focus on the well-being of others that we experience true and genuine happiness.  because with the realization that we were able to serve, we validate our status as part of one community; that is God’s family.  and the more sacrifice that our service necessitates, the more meaningful our existence becomes.

we are also heirs to a kingdom.  the kingdom of God that lasts forever.  if we accept this truth, then we should likewise be ready, willing and honored to wear the crown of thorns.

the scourging at the pillar

“From the sole of the foot to the head there is no sound spot; wounds, bruises, open sores not dressed, not bandaged, nor soothed with oil.”  Isaiah 1:6

there was not much details in the four gospels about the scourging of Jesus. the most vivid depiction that i ever witnessed was from the motion picture “passion of the Christ”. i almost cannot stand to watch that scene at all.  but i still did. and  it was like i also felt Jesus’ suffering when i did.

back in our hometown, bhoy participated in flagellation rites on Good Friday when we were younger.  together with our childhood friends, they made whips out of  short bamboo sticks or metal chains tied to nylon cords.  they designed banana leaves to serve as long skirts for their costumes. then they wore masks made from old shirts to cover their heads.  at dawn, they went to church to repent and pray.  then they proceeded to a riverbank where they hit their backs until tender.  that was the time they would lightly slash about one centimeter line patterns on their backs with a razor blade.  there would be a hundred wounds, more or less, which they will scourge over and over, as they walk around town under the scorching heat of the sun barefoot.

when i asked him why he had to do it, he said it was his panata.  a panata is a tagalog word which means repayment for a prayer or wish that was granted.  he never told me what his prayer or wish was.  but what i was certain of, those wounds surely hurt.

compare those wounds to what our Lord had to bear.  they are not even close.  yet both of them have a prayer.   this Holy Tuesday, whatever we are suffering from, let us all remember that our Lord suffered way much more than he ever deserved.  we can scourge ourselves all we want, but we can never repay the life that was sacrificed for our redemption. 

let our panata be that we no longer add more to what the Lord had already suffered.  instead, let us not waste our pain.  but from it, let the healing follow.

the agony in the garden

“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.  On reaching the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’  He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’  An angel from heaven appeared to him and strenthened him.  And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke 22: 39-44

agony is defined as intense feeling of suffering;  acute mental or physical pain; extreme pain or anguish; torment; distress.  Jesus was in agony when he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, because he knew what would take place to save us from eternal damnation.  he offered his life as the Father willed it for our salvation. 

now there are supporting characters in this the greatest story ever told, who played very crucial roles.  Judas Iscariot and Peter.  Judas betrayed Jesus.  Peter denied Jesus three times.  both felt deep remorse, shame and sadness after they realized what they had done.  Judas found a way out.  he hanged hmself to a tree shortly  after that infamous kiss of betrayal.  Peter also tried to find a way out too.  he ran to the tomb where Jesus was buried.  Judas became desperate.  Peter was hopeful.

we can never emphatize with Jesus’ agony in the garden.  mere mortals, in my perception, would never be able to endure what Jesus had to.  but all of us can be a Judas or a Peter.  we all commit sins and feel intense agony over what we had done, or did not do. 

but then again, like Judas, we can ignore the relevance of the Cross and live in agony for the rest of our lives, feel sorry and wallow in the throes of desperation. if we do, then Jesus’ suffering and death on the Cross would be all in vain.

Jesus died because of our sins.  we already know that. yet we still commit sins over and over again.  but if we truly believe in his promise of redemption and what the Cross stand for, we should run to Him like Peter did.  because when we are truly sorry and sincere, his mercy and forgiveness is sufficient and infinite.

as Jesus prayed in the garden, let us put ourselves beside him in union with his suffering, so that His profound agony would have a deeper meaning in our lives. 

today is Holy Monday.  let us medidate on the agony of Jesus Christ  in Gethsemane.

 *inspired by  “Peter and Judas: A Lesson of Hope and Humility”

 http://www.catholic.org/clife/lent/story.php?id=35983

by Jennifer Hartline, a grateful Catholic, an Army wife and mother of four precious children (one in Heaven).  She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online on topics of Catholic faith, family, Life and politics.  She is also a serious chocoholic.  Visit her at My Chocolate Heart. 

Why is this Week Called Holy?

 
Why is this Week Called Holy?
Take This Cup
By Deacon Keith Fournier
3/26/2010

repost from Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We all experience “Gethsemanes” in our own lives; times of difficulty, deep sorrow, loss, distress, fear and anguish.

It is often those times and circumstances that become the very path to holiness if we learn to love as He loves. Our Christian vocation is to live as He lives, to love as He loves and to thereby become “holy” as He is holy. We are invited to embrace the way of surrendered love.

It is often those times and circumstances that become the very path to holiness if we learn to love as He loves. Our Christian vocation is to live as He lives, to love as He loves and to thereby become

CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) – “Then going out he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived at the place he said to them, “Pray that you may not undergo the test.” After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.”

(And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.) When he rose from prayer -and returned to his disciples- he found them sleeping from grief. He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.” (Luke 22: 39-42)

This Sunday we enter into Holy Week. Christians will gather in sanctuaries throughout the world and wave Palm branches in imitation of those who lined the streets at Jesus´ triumphal entry. We will follow the path of His struggle, the way of His rejection and we will be invited to climb the mountain of His great saving act of unmerited selfless Divine love.

During this week we are invited to enter into His pattern of surrendered love; to walk this way with Jesus, who, in His Sacred humanity, teaches us the path to our own transformation. The agony in that garden called Gethsemane shows us a very human Jesus.

Yes, He was Divine and, because of that, He alone could do for us what we could not do for ourselves, restoring through His passion and death the broken relationship between God and the people whom He fashioned for love and communion. With His outstretched arms, He bridged the gap between heaven and earth. In His triumph over death he defeated the last enemy and began the new creation.

In His Sacred humanity this man Jesus shows each of us how to live differently. We are invited to greet and embrace even that which we do not want as the very means of transformation. We have been given the grace to accept difficulties, which, when embraced in love, can actually become a path to our redemption.

The author of the letter to the Hebrews wrote “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 14:15)

The Christian tradition insists that even undeserved and unmerited suffering, when joined in love to the sufferings of Jesus Christ, can produce extraordinary fruit within us and around us. This is the mystery of suffering in the Christian life.
 
Saint Jose Maria Escriva once wrote “The great Christian revolution has been to convert pain into fruitful suffering and to turn a bad thing into something good. We have deprived the devil of this weapon; and with it we can conquer eternity.”

How do we treat those circumstances that cause us to struggle? How do we deal with what we find unpleasant? Do we practice an “adult” form of avoidance and run, acting as if it will all just go away like when children cover their eyes? Or do we believe that even unpleasant things and “difficult” people can actually be gifts from the hands of a loving God who invites us to walk in the way of His Son?

How do we deal with unresolved conflicts or troubling relationships? Do we work toward resolution, making “love our aim” (1 Cor. 14:7), or do we avoid them, thinking they will just go away if we “pretend” they don´t exist?

Now is the time, during this week we call “Holy”, to join the revolution of which this great saint writes. After all, why do we call this week “Holy”? I suggest two among many reasons.

First, the story of this week is the story of an all Holy God who showed the depth of His love through the complete emptying of Himself, in and through the Passion of His Son. Second, it is holy because we are invited into that life and way of holiness that Jesus demonstrated during all of the events that we will soon commemorate.

In the Old Testament the word often translated as “holy” literally meant- to be set aside, consecrated, for God. In Jesus Christ it now means even more. We who are baptized into Him are invited to live our lives now, in Him. To love as He loves; to pray as He prays, to walk as He walks, to suffer as He suffers; to confront evil the way He does.

All of us inevitably experience “Gethsemanes” in our own lives, times of difficulty, deep sorrow, loss, distress, fear and anguish. Friends may have betrayed us, or those whom we love may have rejected us. Maybe things about our lives are being exposed, brought into the light, and it is “uncomfortable”.

It is often those times and circumstances that become the very path to holiness if we learn to love as He loves. Our Christian vocation is to live as He lives, to love as He loves and to thereby become “holy” as He is holy. We are invited to embrace the way of surrendered love.

“Take this cup”. It is a very human request. What is the cup we are being asked to drink? Let us decide today to make the choice and drink, saying as we do “not my will but yours be done” When we live and love this way, the very people and circumstances that once seemed to be so difficult can become the path to freedom and we learn to walk the way of forgiving love with Him as His redemptive mission continues through time. 
 – – –
Deacon Keith Fournier asks that you join with us and help in this vital mission by sending this article to your family, friends, and neighbors and adding our link (www.catholic.org) to your own website, blog or social network. Let us broadcast, we are PROUD TO BE CATHOLIC

message sent

“And the angel said to her ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and you shall bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom, there will be no end.’…

…And Mary said ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:30-33, 38

have you ever wondered how simple misunderstandings result to  severed ties, destroyed friendships, couples split-up and broken families?  how about workplace foul-ups?  ha-ha, now tell me about it.

yesterday was my lucky day.

a corporate volcano spewed verbal pyroclastics and an emotional flow of  utter annoyance  from the intense heat had taken place.  if  i had given into temptation, a full-blown eruption could have ensued.  but thank God,  i was able to hold my composure, and my joyful nature prevailed. 

it all started with a simple email, the response of which should have been the answer to my query, or a simple idk ( i don’t know).  but instead the recipient confronted me asking me why i sent him the email, that he was not the right person to send it to, that he doesn’t have any idea of what i was asking for.  i tried to reason out with him but instead his voice took on a higher and angrier tone.  i was dumbfounded because i have absolutely no idea where all that furor was coming from.

God knows how much patience kept my tolerance to a manageable level.  until finally the guy got tired, probably because he did not get the reaction that he expected.  he started to walk away.  as he did, when i realized he already let his guard down, i told him with poise and dignity intact,  “your reply could have been just a simple yes, no or i don’t know.  no more, no less.”  we could have spent our time in more productive endeavors, and preserved a bit of whatever is left of the wee respect that we still have for him.

the trouble with people is, sometimes we tend to read between the lines instead of accepting the message at face value.  we are always suspicious that maybe, we are told with what was meant otherwise.  if we keep living in doubt, then where will we find certainty?

today is the feast of the Annunciation.  when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she will be the mother of God, indeed she was full of grace, she had enough faith to believe.  just imagine if she did not say “let it be done unto me according to your word”

Jesus is the message sent by our Father for our salvation.  let us then, pray for discernment.  so that when we respond, it wouldn’t rot in the outbox.  but rather, by our acts of faith, we would be able to forward them.  and through us, that same message of  God would be sent.

manny pacquiao vs. zoladex

“now the God of hope fill you with all the joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.”  Romans 15:13  

 there’s no turning back now. daddy is finally in the forefront of the battlefield called cancer.  he is in the first line of painful attacks which began to radiate to his back now; all the way to those who care for him.  because when we realize that he is in pain, we can almost feel his suffering too.   perhaps not in physical terms.  nonetheless, it is way too consuming.  it slowly eats away whatever courage we have gathered. 

 they say cancer is a painful disease.  i know that it is. but how painful can it possibly be? i guess even those who are afflicted cannot exactly equate with words.  daddy is already old and weak.  the doctors said it is no longer advisable for him to undergo surgery.  so we’re left with lesser options, yet relatively effective as well. 

 in this corner, is Manny Pacquiao. 

 so how did he got into the middle of this fierce battle that is my dad’s?  first of, there’s no longer any need to explain who manny pacquiao is, what with his 7  boxing titles and millions of dollars not to mention his new diamond studded belt.  likewise, we’ve already heard how every time manny pacquiao had major fights abroad, the Philippines experience zero crime rate.  and how ironic that during his fights, the nation unites as one solid pinoy country. YOU KNOW 🙂 (that’s manny’s famous line)

 

Pacquiao-with-WBC-Diamond-Belt-300x226
Manny Pacquiao

yesterday was no exception. every filipino in every corner of the archipelago and the world as well, was glued to the tv, internet or radio, if not that fortunate enough to sit on the ringside, to witness every punch thrown and received by pacman.  daddy was that filipino.  he never missed any pacman bout on tv, and i can say he is really a fan.  but yesterday was special.  aside from the usual peace that a pacquiao fight brings, manny brought into our family something more precious than money can buy.  as daddy watched manny’s fight, daddy forgot he has a fight of his own.  mommy said, it was as if his pain was gone.  i recall the times past when he would watch with such eagerness and excitement.  i can just imagine how manny brought my daddy back to his old self;  when he was young and well, even if for just 12 rounds.  and for that, i salute you manny.

in the other corner is Zoladex.   

 “zoladex relieves some symptoms of  advanced prostate cancer in men and advanced breast cancer in premenopausal women.  it reduces the levels of testosterone in men and estrogen in women.  the hormones mentioned are said to encourage the growth of certain cancers. ” – from www.healthsquare.com

 

zoladex
zoladex

The following adverse events were reported in greater than 1%, but less than 5% of patients treated with ZOLADEX 10.8 mg implant every 12 weeks. Some of these are commonly reported in elderly patients. 

 WHOLE BODY – Abdominal pain, Back pain, Flu syndrome, Headache, Sepsis, Aggravation reaction

CARDIOVASCULAR – Angina pectoris, Cerebral ischemia, Cerebrovascular accident, Heart failure, Pulmonary embolus, Varicose veinsDIGESTIVE – Diarrhea, HematemesisENDOCRINE – Diabetes mellitus HEMATOLOGIC – AnemiaMETABOLIC – Peripheral edemaNERVOUS SYSTEM – Dizziness, Paresthesia, Urinary retentionRESPIRATORY – Cough increased, Dyspnea, Pneumonia SKIN – Herpes simplex, PruritusUROGENITAL – Bladder neoplasm, Breast pain, Hematuria, Impotence, Urinary frequency, Urinary incontinence, Urinary tract disorder, Urinary tract infection, Urination impaired. ” – from www.rxlist.com

today, daddy will have his first zoladex implant.  based on the side effects noted, we fear that the worse is yet to come.  in fact,  the adverse events mentioned seem far more terrifying than the disease itself.  but if it’s any consolation it is said that “symptoms may actually get worse during the first few weeks of therapy. however, as hormone levels subside, the patient should begin to feel an improvement” – from www.healthsquare.com

whatever the outcome of daddy’s treatment, in three months he is scheduled for another implant.  we’re not sure also, if manny pacquiao will decide to fight anew in three months. but one thing is certain, zoladex and pacman brings hope to daddy.  momentary hope that lasts maybe for 12 rounds or three months.

but then again there is a hope that springs eternal.  and that hope is our Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour… our Healer.  He is my daddy’s doctor.