The Challenge to Belief

11 March 2008 Tuesday of the 5th Week of Lent
Numbers 21, 4-9; John 8, 21-30

The Gospel tells us about believing in Jesus. There are two extreme life experiences when it is easy to believe. First, it is easy to believe when we are at the height in our lives. In our happiest and most inspiring moments, we thank the Lord. When people remember us in our birthdays and anniversaries; when we enter into a new relationship; when we win a contest, it is easy to remember God. When we get a very high mark in our exams, we shout with jubilation, “Thank you Lord” or for some, “Yes, there is God!” On the other hand, it is easy to believe in God when we are at our depressing moments. We run to the Lord when all else have failed. We come to Church when we are lonely or hurt. When attend masses when we lose someone. We remember God when we are helpless, like the waiting in the post-bar or board exam --- there is nothing else to turn to but God.

Believing becomes challenging and difficult not at those extreme experiences. Believing becomes difficult when in the middle of these two extremes. It is like the experience of the Israelites in the first reading. They are in a caravan trudging through the desert. The thrill of the escape from Egypt has worn off and all they can see is sand. They have forgotten where they have come from, and they have lost sight of where they are going, then, they began to complain. They began to doubt God. They began to blame Moses for bringing them in the desert. Trusting in God and having confidence in Him in their journey has become difficult to come by.

Often these are the experiences when one is in the 2nd and 3rd year in college: the excitement of passing UP has worn off, and graduation is far from being considered; when one has landed a job and is now just going through the regular times, and finding another job has not yet presented itself; when you are at the middle of your thesis and you do not know how it will end; trusting and having confidence in God and in oneself, often becomes difficult. At these times, you don’t feel excited; everything is “as usual”, “regular”, “fine”, “ganito pa rin”, “heto, what else is new”, “boring”, “walang kabuhay-buhay”, “colorless”, “loveless.” At these moments, we find ourselves complaining about this and that, and it is easy to see the faults of others, and then we, like the Israelites, blame God and others for our unexciting life.

But belief is formed in these ordinary days. It is when God works on us. In the Season of Lent, we are invited to see God, not just in our extreme moments of joy or depression, but in our ordinary, mundane and unexciting life!

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