By Nemsy Gubatan
During the time of Jesus you would think that the world was falling apart seeing the brutality of the Roman soldiers and the ruthlessness of the Jewish religious leaders who were planning to discredit and kill Jesus. In this situation it appears, that evil has the upper hand. Even today there is so much darkness in the world with Christian persecutions and Christian values under assault by non-believers and the evil one. Nonetheless, in the eyes of Pope Benedict XVI there is always hope. Why? Here’s what he said:
“Evil has power via man’s freedom, whereby it creates structures for itself. For there are obviously structures of evil. They eventually exert pressure on man; they can even block his freedom, and thereby erect a wall against God’s penetration in the world. God didn’t conquer evil in Christ, in the sense that evil could no longer temp man’s freedom; rather, he offered to take us by the hand, and to lead us. But he doesn’t compel us.
Apparently, this is the way he wants to rule, that is the divine form of power. And the non-divine form of power, obviously consists in imposing oneself, and getting one’s way and coercing. What we know as Christians is that the world, in spite of everything, is in God’s hands. Even when man casts off what binds him to God and hastens toward destruction, God will create a new beginning in the midst of a floundering world.”
Wow! This concept speaks of Lent. Jesus will create a new beginning in us in the midst of our floundering. Those who went to confession during Lent knows about the breakthrough of a new beginning. As we came out of the confessional, we felt like walking away from sin, and beginning a new life of freedom in loving Jesus as deeply as we can. It is a fresh start offering Jesus a fresh committed love.
Clearly, Jesus offers us a second chance, over and over again, until we make it into the Promised Land. Therefore let us simply thank the good Lord for leading us to his altar of mercy and love, and to strengthen our freedom to be faithful to him to the end. For we know that true love stories never have endings; and knowing this gives us inner peace and joy.
By Nemsy Gubatan
For Jesus, reconciliation has something to do with offering gifts at the altar. He mandated that before we offer our gift to God at the altar that we should first be reconciled with our brother or sister whom we may have alienated, have bad feelings with, and have harbored resentment. Jesus does not want us to carry a heavy heart when we bring our gifts at the altar. He wants us to be joyful when we approach him.
Why is this? Because even our best Lenten sacrifices would lose its impact and value. As a result we could be spiritually limping all the way to Easter. So first, we should be reconciled with God through confession and sincere repentance. Then we should be reconciled with those whom we have alienated or vice versa.
The goal is to make amends as soon as possible. The obvious reason is that God does not want us to tarnish the gifts we bring to the altar during Lent. Also, He wants peace and joy reigning among His children when Easter comes. Unfortunately, there are times when reconciliation does not come easy, especially if we have been deeply hurt.
I remember many years ago when I worked for a boss who was so hard on me. He overloaded me with work and asked me to come in an hour early and stay an hour late. I surmised that it was because I became a good friend of his boss and he was jealous. Under such great pressure, I left the company and found a much better job with a new friendlier boss.
However the hurt was so deep that I had a hard time forgiving my old boss. The confessional was helpful but not fully effective. So I prayed for divine assistance. Six months later, I heard from my old friends that my former boss had a heart attack and was now on permanent disability. Suddenly my heart was flooded with compassion for him. I knew how he loved his work, and how he had great expectations for advancement; now it appears that he has reached a dead end.
I had mixed feelings, but mostly compassion and empathy. Immediately I bowed my head and sincerely prayed for him and his family. I also asked the good Lord to forgive me of harboring some ill feelings towards him in the past. Suddenly, freed from this shackle, I realized that resentments are burdens we don’t need to carry. Also I understood that now I can bring my gifts to the altar with pure joy and love.
Remember what St. Francis said; “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.” Likewise what Mahatma Gandhi advised; “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” And to these admonitions we conclude ... happiness are for those who can forgive from the heart and bring their gifts to the altar with perfect joy. When we do this, the invisible Jesus looks at you with great pride and longing ... longing for your intense love.
Love is Always a Choice
By Nemsy Gubatan
Princess Alice was the daughter of Queen Victoria of England. She had a 4 year old son whom she loved so much. But one day her son got sick with a deadly and contagious disease known as “black diphtheria”. The nurses told her to stay away from her son to avoid contamination. But one morning, as the Princess watched her son in a far corner of the room, she heard her son tell the nurse; “Why doesn’t my mother kiss me anymore?”
This was more than the Princess could bear, so with tears in her eyes, she ran to her son, picked him up and showered him with kisses.
This turned out to be the kiss of death. The Princess contracted the disease and in a matter of weeks, both mother and son were buried side by side. Was this a foolish act the Princess did? Perhaps. But who ever said that love is logical.
Look at the Crucified One, bleeding to death on the cross. To a pagan or unbeliever, what Jesus did, with all the power at his fingertips appear to be nonsensical. But to Jesus, it was the best thing he ever did. Why? Because He loves us, deeply and intensely. Also, because He knows that love is a choice; and He chose to love us without limit. That’s why a mystic once said that love is never stingy, it trembles when it thinks it has given so little.” So during Lent, we are invited to consider the idea of personal sacrifice. Why? Because love is sacrifice, and it means self-denial, or giving up something for a higher purpose.
I remember the time I asked my grandson what he offered up for Lent. He said: “I offered up complaining. Instead, I try to say something nice about other people.” I told him, “I’m so proud of you”.
Then he told me about Sharon, his classmate who offered up talking for 40 days. She did this with the cooperation of her teachers at Bishop Moore High School, her parents, and her classmates. To avoid irritating others, she carried a writing tablet to answer important questions. What a good choice of sacrifice.
After the Lenten season both Sharon and my grandson felt more centered in God and happier. So what do you intend to offer up for Lent?
PREVIOUS ISSUESThe Chaperon
By Nemsy Gubatan
Life is full of surprises. When we least expect it, the experience of a lifetime engulfs us and it becomes a milestone in our life. At first we think it is just a happy coincidence, but downstream we realize it is the hand of God. So let me share a personal story with you.
The phone rang and I grab it immediately. As expected, it was my good friend Florendo. He said, “Nemsy, there’s a university dance this weekend, and I have arranged a blind date for you. She’s rather charming and a good dancer. Let’s meet at the usual place and go from there.”
His invitation was rather timely and encouraging, because at the time I was keeping my eyes open for a possible partner in life. With eagerness, I told him that I was looking forward to meet this “blind date.”
At the appointed time, we drove to meet my blind date at her residence. What would she look like? Then it happened, I was formally introduced to her and I noticed that she was upbeat and had a big smile in her face. Well dressed in a semi-formal gown, she greeted us politely. I smiled back and shook her hands. Then, without missing a beat, she said, “I forgot to tell you that I am taking a chaperon with me.
“Chaperon!” I silently mumbled under my breath. I saw my friend nervously glance at me. Without hesitation my blind date continued: “Let me introduce her to you.”
Momentarily, she disappeared and came back with her chaperon. As soon as I saw her, I was dazzled by her charm and beauty. Wearing a simple dress, she looked like royalty to me. Although somewhat shy and unassuming, I could not take my eyes away from her. As she was introduced to us, she simply smiled and did not say a word.
When we arrived at the “Tres Hermanas” grand ballroom, in Manila, Philippines, the party was already at full swing. That night I remember dancing with my blind date, but the one time I danced with the chaperon I felt the evening was enchanted and the whole world seem to have vanished into oblivion. My wish at the time was that the music would never end. To my surprise I sensed that she was also enjoying my company. We were laughing and exchanging pleasantries with great delight. For me, the attraction was compelling, and I began to wonder if I was falling in love.
The days that followed confirmed what I feared most, I could not forget the chaperon. Our moments together that night, brief as it was, had captured my imagination. So I made up my mind, that I would see her again.
There is something magic about human love. In some small ways it mirrors divine love. Yet, in the final analysis they are complimentary. Obviously, God is the greatest lover of all. But we are called to experience this overwhelming and intoxicating love in both human and divine love. Note however, that this experience can only lead to a deeper relationship and endless joy. Why? Because life has no meaning without relationship and we are hardwired to find someone to love. And since God is love and the greatest lover, He is our ultimate goal. He is our heart's resting place.
By Dcn. Nemsy
Fr. Placido was a good friend of Padre Pio having gone to the same seminary with him. In 1957 he got seriously ill and was taken to the hospital in San Severo, Italy. One night, out of the blue, he suddenly saw Pade Pio at the foot of his bed assuring him of his recovery. The visitor then walked over towards the window, put his hands on the glass window and disappeared.
The next morning, Fr. Placido feeling rejuvenated, got out of bed and walked towards the window. There he saw the imprint of Padre Pio’s hand on the glass. The news of this travelled fast around the hospital and people flocked to his room to see the imprint for themselves. Even those outside the hospital heard about the story and they too flocked to Fr. Placido’s room. This created unnecessary traffic in the hospital so the authorities tried to erase and clean off the imprint, but it would not wash away. It was only after a few days later did the imprint disappear.
Fr. D’Apolito, a friend of Fr. Placido who saw the imprint during his visit wanted to verify this unusual incident. So he went to visit Padre Pio at the San Giovanni monastery and asked the holy priest about his surprise visit. Padre Pio simply said with a smile: “Yes, I went to the hospital, but don’t say anything to anyone.”
Ah, the beauty and simplicity of sanctity. It does bring inner joy and happiness.
By Deacon Nemsy Gubatan
New Year is upon us, a springboard for new beginnings and new spiritual blossoming; also a time for resolutions and good intentions. To pave the way, pause for a few moments, close your eyes, and ask the “igniter of divine love, the revealer of truth about ourselves, and the wind
of courage” ... the Holy Spirit, to overshadow us with wisdom and insight into what is best for us to fly into the arms of God, into the arms of love. Why? Because if we do this, our spiritual eyes will be opened and change will be possible ... because only pure love can make this happen.
So consider the following New Year’s resolutions suggested by Fr. William Bausch.
First, Pick Up ... meaning pick up and deepen your relationship with God. Spend more quality time in prayer, in adoration, and in reflecting on the direction of your life. That’s why Plato said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Where is your life heading? Are you loosing spiritual ground, or are you gaining confidence because of a closer walk with the Lord. Now is the time to examine your life.
Second, Put Down ... meaning put down last year’s baggage or garbage – emotional or material. Just like what happened to Julie. She was so upset at her mean boss she quit her job. Fortunately, she found a new one; but there she continued talking about her old obnoxious boss to her new friends at work. So they simply told her: “So forget him. Why not just enjoy your work here with us.” For sure, that was a good advice; put down your old emotional baggage.
Then another co-worker told Julie this story: “I moved a few years ago and I hired a professional mover to pack for me. He asked me what I wanted him to pack. I waived my hand and said, “Everything!” When I got to my new place, I realized that he had taken my words literally. So along with my furniture, he pack all my trash bins, my old garbage including old newspapers, and empty bottles. That was a big mistake.”
True statement, so let’s abandon last year’s baggage and garbage – material or emotional. Also let’s abandon our old bad habits, disappointments, and grudges. Let us start fresh with new positive expectations and new hope.
Third, Pull Back. Dr. Jerald Jampolsky wrote the book, “Love is Letting Go of Fear.” In that book he said:
“Have you ever given yourself the opportunity of going through just one day concentrating on totally accepting everyone and making no judgments? Then he continued, “Everything we think or say, reacts on us like a boomerang. When we send out judgment in the form of criticism, fury, or attack thoughts, they come back to us. When we send out only love, it comes back to us.”
So during this New Year let’s try to purposely and consciously to pull back from judging others and just listen and be positive towards them. If someone irritates you, just say a quick prayer for them. Try these New Year’s resolutions and you will find a quieter life and a happier one.