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Saturday, March 1, 2014

GOD FIRST, AND ALL THE REST WILL FOLLOW!


8th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
March 2, 2014

GOD FIRST, AND ALL THE REST WILL FOLLOW!

The past four Sundays reminded us of Godly wisdom, in many and varied ways. Today, we are once again told of the wisdom that we need above all others – the wisdom to be able to suffer unjustly, the wisdom to remain solid and steadfast despite the most difficult human pain of all – that of being forsaken, abandoned, even forgotten.

Who among us have not felt such at some point or other in our lives? Who among us did not feel ignored, even perhaps rejected, and treated as less than we deserve?

You know it better than I do, at least as far as your personal story is concerned … we all pass through judgment by others, or by “any human tribunal.” We are judged for what we do or say. We are also judged for how we appear, or how we come across to people. No matter what they say, people tend to judge a book by its cover.

I just came back from a trip to beautiful Camiguin Island, just southeast of Bohol and north of Cagayan de Oro. The island is spotlessly clean; the gardens fronting houses are mostly well manicured, well taken care of. Everyone seems to take pride in what their island can offer – a mixture of ecological wonders and man-made wonders. The best that I noticed was the simplicity of people, and their apparent honesty and trustworthiness. I never for a minute worried about losing any of the few gadgets that I had to bring in order to make the seminar I handled run smoothly.

I remember being singled out by an elementary teacher for some misdemeanor I never committed. She lost something of value, and I was, apparently, the first in her short list of suspects. It was hard to face that piercing and menacing look and verbal threats. But it was harder to live with the idea that one has been unfarily judged and unjustly treated.

That was not the first and the last time in my life I was bothered by anxiety. I worried about anything and everything. I got anxious about people not looking too kindly on me on occasion. The worst was being treated as a pariah, after working so hard for things I never got to enjoy personally.

I am sure my readers and hearers can identify with what I am saying. And I am sure, too, that many of you, like me, find solace in the comforting and prophetic words of the readings today. I am sure that some of you might still be waiting up till now, for the Lord to “bring to light what is hidden in darkness and manifest the motives of our hearts.”

Yes … Today is a moment of solace and comfort, not from humans and from the world, but from God Himself. Yes … God cares for you and me, and today is as good as any other, for us to be reminded that God’s care never wanes, never disappears at any given time.

But is this solely wishful thinking and merely pious thought for us to get by and consider like a pie in the sky, or the opium of the credulous and the weak of heart?

I don’t  think so. I have been a priest more than 30 years. Been there; done that … I have been through situations of serenity and sorrow. I have gone through tough times and rough times. But there is one thing that I can honestly, sincerely, and confidently tell everyone … The Lord never felt closer to me than during those times I was passing through the worst. They were the worst of times; they, too, were the best of times.

But again, is this all merely a rose petal to tuck in between the pages of the book of our lives? … something we can finger through and sniff and smell when we are passing through darkness and desperation?

My answer is no … For this is not something we all wait for passively. This confidence in the mercy and compassion of God is not something we just receive passively. No … We need to learn: “Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.” Second, we need to have faith, not things would get better anyway, but faith in God, “who knows what [we] need. And third, we need to go actively in search for God: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you besides.”

All these things will be given us besides! I think I will go for God and all the rest that faith in Him will bring! God and God alone, yes … and everything else that God will provide … rejection, sorrow, unjust treatment and false judgment from others, and peace, serenity, love … God alone, and then some!

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