life is a sentence

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” John 11:25

today is supposed to be my dear friend roobee’s 45th birthday.  but we all stopped counting at 43, because she died almost two years ago after a fatal seizure.  last week my nephew Banjo, who is in his early twenties, passed on due to a lingering illness.  and just this week, my son’s former schoolmate and good friend, Kent, suddenly died in iligan because of a car accident.  he was still in his teens. 

in daddy’s case when he battled the big C,  he was given an estimated time when he was expected to die.  but nobody could really tell. he too, could have figured in an accident long before that.  then the doctors’ estimate would have been a gross mistake. and our family, unprepared and devastated. or there could have been a miracle, when the mistake would be most welcomed.

it is unbelievable when death cheats his way and no one else is looking.  it leaves everyone stunned and numb. unable to comprehend what is going on.  long after we moved on, the sadness lingers. 

at school, we were taught that “a sentence is a group of words that expresses a complete idea and includes a subject and a verb“.  in life we learn that it is. 

life is a sentence.

life is sentence whose subject is us.  and the verb, what we do with “us”.

 “a sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a punctuation mark.”

our life begins with a loud cry.  and when it ends, only God knows.   but certainly, it will.

life usually ends with a period.  this is when life ends how and when most expects it to end – live a full life, die naturally and happily at old age.

life sometimes end with a question mark.  when someone who is young and full of dreams gets sick and die, we often ask what if and what could have been.

life, on rare occasions, end with a punctuation mark. we all get this shock and disbelief when one dies from an accident, a crime or a suicide.

in between, we may pause with a comma or a semi-colon, to give order to our compound or complex lives.

and when we finally reunite with our Creator, our sentences end with a . . .

for with the Lord is unending joy and love.

but for us who are still under construction, let us always be thankful for all the other sentences that we connect with, whether the past, present or future tense.

together and in harmony, we could create a paragraph or a novel even.  a love story that would highlight God’s glory in all our lives. and punctuate it with  : )

trick or treat!

“Do not deceive yourselves.  If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age,  he should become a ‘fool’, so that he may become wise.”  1 Corinthians 3:18

truth hurts.  and so is the discovery that the perceived truth was actually a lie afterall. then you wouldn’t know exactly which is worse.

what can exactly make a difference is the “who”.  strangers can lie all they can, so what?  if it does not involve us in any way, it wouldn’t matter at all.  but if it is someone with whom a mutual trust we thought exists, the truth hurts even more.

all of us, at some point in our lives, experience this sad truth.  betrayed, tricked, duped, deceived, bluffed, even stabbed at the back.  what can be more painful?

but it’s okey to feel bad.  it is a proof that we are alive and normal.  because to be numb is like being dead. 

but then again, if we continuously wallow in the pool of  lies and betrayal, then we will soon drown in the negativity of our self-inflicted pain.  and we’re just as good as dead.  because we can no longer move on and see things in a different light.

let’s make our “wallow episodes” short and significant.  like boosters to help us surge upwards, consider the trickery that once pulled us down, good luck in disguise.  the beautiful lie that finally appeared as the ugly truth, would teach us painful lessons that would eventually make us better persons. 

our “trust-o-meter” may malfunction for quite sometime.  but be patient.  people in our lives who stay true under any circumstance would calibrate it again like new.  we would eventually realize our true alliances, and they would enable us to be survivors in life.  these are the ones to whom our focus should be on, to cherish and value even more.

truth is a bitter pill, sugar-coated with lies.   in the end, we decide – to swallow or not.

trick or treat!

the naked truth

“And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return; the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”  Job 1:21

funny how the word “naked” always evokes that extra interest.  basic instinct maybe?  but come to think of it.  our nakedness is basic in our humanity.  we were born naked.  and would pass on the same way too.  no matter how we would eventually be clothed in the end.

i remember when my cousin khan passed away.  she was in her early 20s.  initially, she wore our aunt’s conservative barong terno especially made for a wedding ceremony.  everyone noticed how khan’s face looked so unhappy.  you see, khan was a fashionista.  it was really awkward to see her that young and dead.  but wear that terno and that short hair? eeewww!  like she was forced by death to look 30 years older.  and we could almost hear her scream, “get me out of here!!!”  in reference to her outfit. not her coffin.

so my sister and younger cousins decided to buy her a more suitable lavender spaghetti strapped dress with a matching see-through  shawl to cover her shoulder.  the ensemble showed how pretty and young she was, yet still retained that statuesque dignity only khan could get away with.  we can always argue about this.  but believe it or not, from then on, her face glowed in serene approval and it was like she smiled all the way to her grave.

the truth is, we didn’t really care how we were dressed up when we were born.  likewise, it wouldn’t matter too when we pass on.  our life is a personal relationship with our Creator.  it will always be between ourselves and Him.  nothing more. nothing less.  whatever we had after we were born – family, clothing, shelter, riches – these are just add ons to our journey that we are trusted to enrich our lives with.  we don’t take them beyond our destination.  because in the end, our accountability is what have we done with our life.  with or without the add-ons. 

remember the story of Job.  he was an upright man who feared God and shunned evil.  he was prosperous and God blessed him with seven sons and three daughters.  but Satan was allowed to test his faith. everything he had was taken away.  even his family.  his whole body was smitten by Satan with dreadful boils.  still he persevered in his faith.  when his wife prompted him to curse God and die, Job replied “You speak as the one of the foolish speaks.  Moreover, shall we receive good from God and not receive evil?”

in the end, Job got well again, regain his possessions and had ten more children living to see the fourth generation and died in peace at the old age of 140. 

when we lose someone or something we hold dear – loved ones, job, home, money, health etc. –  let us remember that all are God’s blessings to us.  He has the power to give, yet take away in His time.  we must be resigned to all sufferings, as much as we delight in all the blessings.  not because He is God and we are just His creations.  but because we trust that God knows what is best for us.  though His mysterious ways leave us often confused and puzzled; so that we tend to ask why, and expect the answer right away.

“there is nothing permanent in this world.  not even our troubles.”  Charlie Chaplin once said.  today may be your bad day.  but from my experience,  from these bad days, the best of mine always follow. 

we may be stripped of anything and everything, but in all our humble nakedness, our Creator clothes us with the assurance that he would take care of everything.  and if we sincerely believe, we could actually feel that warmth of his love.

that’s the naked truth.

big mistake, the captain’s “major, major” wrong decision

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath , for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay. says the Lord. On the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 

Do not be overcome by evil, OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD.” Romans 12:17-21

we are still in shock as news on the bloody hostage taking in Manila continues since it happened two days ago.  the police officer Rolando Mendoza, who appealed his case not in court, but in front of the world, definitely had his voice heard.  but at what cost? and did it achieve his purpose?

“rolando mendoza was a good man”;  that was what his family, his colleagues in the police force, neighbors and friends who knew him personally say.  what made him do such violent acts which do not conform to the qualities of a “good man” is still in question. 

his demand to get his “life” back which he equated with the retirement benefits that he ought to receive was a sad cry for help.

nobody is in a position to judge him.  but in my own point of view, there is more to life than retirement benefits.  bad things happen even to good people.  even if you strictly do everything the right way, sometimes some things happen beyond our control which cloud our judgement and force us to do things against the moral values within which our characters are built.  this is because our lives are connected with one another.  whatever happens with one, affects another human being’s life.  the rage that the hostage taking incident sparked is a sound proof that all of us are intertwined regardless if we knew each other or not. 

rolando and the hostages didn’t know each other.  but when their paths crossed,  the journey would never be the same again.  it is sad that lives were taken in a futile attempt to win a personal battle.  if only rolando trusted more in the power of the Lord, rather than the word of the ombudsman or the promise of a negotiator, he wouldn’t have conceived that plan in the first place. 

what we do is not necesarily who we are.  we, as human beings made in the likeness of God, are basically good.  but somewhere along the paths we take in our lives, we come across dangerous potholes and humps, and interact with different types of people along the way.  they either make our journey is easy, but sometimes cause us troubles and hardships.  but if we stay in God’s grace, his everlasting love and light would guide us until we reach our destination.

as we go along our way, let us not depart from who we really are.  we are God’s children.  we are brothers and sisters, regardless of color, race or religion.  if we care for our brothers and sisters, we would never feel  threathened, even if everything will be taken away from us.  we will always be taken care of.  if we just believe in God’s promise.

it is written in Matthew 6:25-26  “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.  Is not life more than food? Or the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not worth much more than they?”

if only rolando remembered this, he should not have made that big wrong decision.  he would not have made that big mistake.  and he could have prevented all the others from making their own.

the tale of two friends

And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons? – – `My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by him.  For the Lord disciplines him whom He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.’

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather healed.”  Hebrews 12: 5-7, 11-13

i remember this story about two very close friends.  in fact, they were too close that they already treated each other as family.  one day, the other friend left and worked away from the other.  before he left, he asked his friend to take care of his mother while he was away.  he also entrusted his business and savings to him not wanting to bother his mother with finances.  on top of that, he also sent part of his earnings monthly.  his main concern was for his mother to be well taken care of.

two years after, the friend who went away came back.  only to find out that the friend he left behind betrayed his trust;  his money gone, the business went bankrupt and his mother neglected.  when he confronted his friend, this friend who betrayed him simply said he needed the money, but never asked for forgiveness nor did he show any remorse nor shame for what he had done.  he was even proud to say that he can pay him back anytime.  that was the last time they saw each other.

after some time, the friend had to leave his mother again.  but this time he made sure that he trusted the right people to care for her.  not long after, the friend who betrayed him was caught stealing from his place of work.  he was forced to resign without any benefits from his thirty years of service, or else the company would file charges against him.  he left the company empty-handed.  because of his lavish lifestyle which his salary alone could not sustain, he was also neck deep in debt with personal loans from other people which he could no longer pay.  his childred stopped going to school.  his house foreclosed by the bank.  and because he was already getting older, he started to get sick. 

it was time for vacation again for his friend.  during one of his routine visits to his doctor, he saw the friend who betrayed him in the hospital corridor, seeking treatment for his heart ailment in the charity section; pale, thin and weak.  but this then sickly friend was still hardened with pride.  he said he was supposed to pay back what he owed, but he got sick.  and yet, not a single sorry was uttered.  his friend who had long forgotten what he had done, simply said, “you know, my friend,  all our sins each have their own punishments.  maybe this is yours.”  and the friend who betrayed him, still proud and enrelenting answered back “you know what you said really hurts me.”  and the friend who betrayed him walked away, never looked back, not realizing the hurt he had caused the other.  now this friend who betrayed the other, has nothing.  no money, no family, no friend. 

when bad things happen to us, we associate it to God’s punishment for our past wrongdoings.  because i see God as a loving and gentle God, i refused to see him in this perspective especially when i was younger.  but when i grew older, i believe i also grew a bit wiser.

because by now, i know that everytime i sin, God calls my attention because he loves me and he wants me to change.   in subtle ways first.  but when i don’t listen, he jolts me.  like lightning in the middle of summer, i would be caught by surprise.  then, he gets my attention.  and i learn my lesson.  the hard way.

that does not mean that God is not a loving and gentle God.  He is.  it’s just that, i’m a stubborn sinner who needed something more than a push to make me understand. 

we can be the friend who trusts or the friend who betrays.  in which case, we can be forgiving like the other.  or really, really mean and proud, like the one who betrays him. 

the point is, when God does punishes us, let not foolish pride get in the way.  acknowledge that we had done something wrong.  ask for forgiveness.  resolve not to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.  or else, we would end up with nothing.  no love.  no friend.  no family.  no home.  and sadly, no soul.

never alone

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

yesterday i experienced the scariest and weirdest moment ever. 

you see, there is no company transport provided for us,  so i have to go with bhoy every morning.  that means i am always an hour and a half early for work.  that also means that it is my duty to unlock the office main door and switch on the lights. it also means that i could enjoy some peace and quiet before each stressful day.  there’s time for me to pray the rosary, retouch make-up, clean my desk, read the news and update my facebook status, even before everyone else arrives. 

except for some familiar sounds that come from the kitchen, which by this time i’ve already gotten used to, nothing unusual happens.  not until yesterday morning.

as i placed my bag and packed lunch on my desk and was about to take a seat, a loud banging on the glass part of the wall divider behind me swallowed the silence that i’ve grown to love now. BANG! BANG! BANG! as i turned to look at where the eerie noise was coming from, my heartbeat raced really fast that i felt it was out of the building within a sec.  but then, the rest of my body froze in my seat.  I WAS REALLY, REALLY TERRIFIED!!!  (thanks to my love affair with horror movies, my imagination became gory and gruesome OMG! )

the first thing that i could think of was a remote possibility that there maybe somebody locked inside the office the day before.  the second thing was oh well!  i could not think of anything more other than how scared i already was. as i sat motionless for like an eternity, i just prayed “Oh God, please don’t leave me. I’m all alone.”  minutes were transformed to forever.  you can just imagine my relief when my officemate and friend, mila, eventually arrived.  it was then that i got my heart back to its rightful place…my frightened heart that seemed to have taken a flight back home to laguna.

of course there may be spirits or souls that roam around, whose energy may have caused that really loud banging. and so, i was really wrong when i thought i was all alone.  in fact, i realized now that indeed, i was never alone. and never will be.  to quote Pope Benedict XVI during Sunday’s Angelus prayer, he stressed: “Every time we recite Our Father, our voice becomes entwined with that of the Church, because those who pray are never alone.” http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=37525

in connection to my weird experience yesterday, this legend about the cherokee indian youth’s rite of passage was sent to my email this morning. here goes:

his father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone.  he is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. 

he cannot cry out for help to anyone.  once he survives the night, he is a MAN.  he cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own.

the boy is naturally terrified.  he can hear all kinds of noises.  wild beasts must surely be all around him.  maybe even some humans might do him harm.  the wind blew on the grass and the earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing his blindfold.  it would be the only way he could become a man!

finally after the horrific night, the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold.  it was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him.  he had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.

we too, are never alone.  even when we don’t know it, God is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us.  when trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.

Moral of the story:  Just because you can’t see God, doesn’t mean He’s not there.

oh yes God is always with me.  but question is, am i with him? or will i rather be elsewhere? how many times did i go astray and got lost along the way? do i sometimes get ahead of Him who is supposed to lead me instead? 

next time any sound breaks that precious silence again,  my prayer is that the presence of God would build up my courage and strengthen my faith.  let it be a resounding assurance that He will never ever leave me, even when most of the time i am not worthy.

how i survived my wedding: love story of a june bride

“But at the beginning of creation, God made them male and female, ‘For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’.  So they are no longer two, but one.” Mark 10:6-8 

the month of June was named after Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage.  for this reason, it is believed that couples who tie the knot during the month of June would enjoy a happy married life.  this explains why most women preferred to be june brides.  aside from harvest time and that flowers are still abloom, this perception about the wedding month of june influenced our choice of a wedding day. 

our wedding preparations began in March right after the “pamanhikan“.  a “pamanhikan” is a Filipino tradition when the parents of the groom meet the parents of the bride and discuss over a sumptuous meal the details of the wedding.  before the meeting, bhoy and i had our wedding plans already written down from the most important such as the church and the venue for the reception, to the most trivial like which ribbon to use for the wedding souvenirs.  but it turned out that both our parents had a different agenda so we considered it was best to let them have their way.

though major changes were made in our wedding plans, one remained constant.  we decided it had to be perfect.  so we did all we could to follow our revised list to the letter, even minus a wedding coordinator or event organizer, which was non-existent that time.

the wedding was to be held in our parish church to be decorated with exquisite flower arrangements ; so must be the reception in our house.  the motif was light yellow, sky blue and baby pink (we call it rainbow though none was even in it).  my off-white gown was similar to Princess Diana’s  (if i had known that i’d grow this ‘bulky’, i would have worn the strapless, body-hugging type.  sigh!) as wedding souvenirs, we bought tiny heart -shaped scented candles which we personally wrapped in tulle in hues that conform of course with our motif.  again, light yellow, sky blue and baby pink.  our invitations were printed especially for us by the printing press of my daddy’s friend as his wedding gift.  everything was right on schedule, and things seemed to work out as planned.  or so we thought… 

the much awaited day finally came – June 15, 1991… the wedding mass was to commence at 9:00 am.  but when we woke up at 5:00 am, it was raining cats and dogs and whatever furry house pet you could ever think of!  a gatecrasher named typhoon Diding came uninvited… and early. we had offered not only three eggs at the altar in honor of St. Clare the day before, but a dozen to ensure good weather on our special day. and yes! miracles of miracles! the rain stopped and the sun shone just in time for the wedding ceremony.

after the wedding march, i can hardly remember anything that followed. and i discovered only later, that bhoy had almost the same experience.  it was like we were both in a trance.  what we were sure of was there were lots of people and that something very special was unfolding.  it’s just that we didn’t see faces or recall how the wedding exactly took place; like a jigsaw puzzle, only bits and pieces of what Fr. Bitoon said during the homily, which now also seem too vague and difficult to connect all together. during the reception, we were still dazed.  we were mentally blank at most, and yet we were absolutely sure our emotions were overflowing with joy and excitement.

but at 2:00 pm, we were suddenly jolted out of our state of euphoria.  the sky turned really dark that most of our guests who came all the way from as far as Pangasinan and Tarlac, suddenly bade goodbye and left hurriedly.  still bhoy and i were still on cloud 9.99, so what looked like a freak weather condition no longer mattered.  in no time, all the guests and relatives had gone home.  wedding day ended abruptly.   it turned out that the same time that our love affair was being written in the stars, a volcano began to shoot up sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere which would affect the earth’s atmosphere over the next few years .  June 15, 1991 mt. pinatubo in zambales erupted.  and the rest is history.

nineteen years had passed since bhoy and i solemnly vowed to God and our families, to take each other as husband/wife, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, from that day forward, till death do we part.

the wedding didn’t turn out perfect as we planned.  at some point, i even thought maybe nature was working against us.  even life didn’t happen as we wanted it to be.  but we thank the Lord for each other, for the children that we have and for all the other blessings we have received in our marriage and beyond.

bhoy and i now realize that it really doesn’t matter what season of the year is the best time to get married.  what is essential to a happy marriage is love that endures regardless of what the weather is. ours was nineteen years of laughter, sweet smiles, butterfly kisses, warm hugs and corny jokes.  there were some tears too from time to time, but only to strengthen the episodes of vulnerability that falling in love usually caused.

and it is amazing how, everyday as we wake up in the morning, we fall in love with each other all over again.

do you know what our secret is?  we have a third party between us.  and that is the Lord who bonded and painted our marriage with hues more than that of our wedding motif, and even more than the colors of the rainbow.  that rainbow that will forever hold the promise,  as God made this promise to Noah:
“Never again will I destroy the world with a flood.
I make this covenant with you and with all creatures.
From this day on,
there will always come a time for planting,
and a time for gathering up what was planted.

Day will always follow night,
the warm days of summer
will always follow
the cold and snow of winter,
as long as the earth shall be.”

so too shall our love, we pray in Jesus’ name…

The Helper

“I will ask the Father , and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;  that is, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you…But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”  John 14:16-17, 26

once a year, OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) usually take a month off from work.  most choose to go back home to relax, and rekindle relationships with family and friends.  

during this period, it is a treat to have some household help around to do chores for us.  because while we spend eight hours a day saturdays to thursdays at work in the foreign land, we also spend after-office overtime in the kitchen to cook and do the dishes, do the laundry, clean the bathroom, vacuum the carpet, pick up groceries.  the list is almost equal to the number of hours in a day.

but back in our homeland, a helper is willing and happy to do all that and more, at a comparatively lower monthly fee than what the dry cleaners and the friendly neighborhood carwash boys charge on a per job basis. 

Fely is small and petite, but there is no question that she’s a lot stronger than anybody may perceive her to be.  she’s almost like a superwoman.  besides, she maintains that cheerful disposition no matter what she does and when ever her call time is.  you see, she is not a maid who stays in the house 24-7.

Fely is our on-call helper.  and she’s always available when ever we need her.  for that, we are especially grateful to her.  not only because she does things for us.  she enables us to spend precious thirty days with our family without the hassles of usual household chores.  she makes our holidays more worthwhile, stress-free and special.  so that when we go back to our workplace, we are recharged, rejuvenated and renewed.

our souls also get tired and weary.  especially when we live against the Lord’s teachings.  when temptations come our way and we give in, our spirits experience the artificial “high” which eventually does not last long.  when troubles come our way, our souls get quite a beating that leave them bruised and battered.  and so like our physical limitations, we realize sooner that our souls need help too.  

before Jesus ascended to heaven, He promised to give us a Helper to quench the thirst of our weary souls.  a Helper to guide us through the highways and byways of life to never lose sight of God’s mansion where rooms are reserved especially for us, His children.  a Helper to teach us all things, when our foolishness gets the better of us. that Helper is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity. 

today is Pentecost Sunday, fifty days after the Passover, and seventh Sunday after Easter. this was the time when the Holy Spirit came down to the men in the upper room after Jesus’ ascension to heaven.  as had been promised, a strong wind filled the house and tongues of fire came to rest on each of them and they all were filled with the Holy Spirit.

since then the Holy Spirit dwells in our midst, always within reach, within us. with utmost humility, let us all acknowledge His presence and seek His guidance in every aspect of our life.  especially in times of distress and tribulations.  we can always depend on the Holy Spirit, our Helper,  to strengthen our faint and sagging spirits with His seven gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel (right judgement), fortitude (courage), knowledge, piety (reverence) and fear of the Lord (wonder and awe).

——————————————————————————————

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Pray: Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Your love.

V. Send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be created,

R. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.

O God, Who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of Your faithful, grant that by that same Holy Spirit, we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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.