29 April 2009. Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Easter
Acts 8, 1-8; Psalm 66; John 6, 35-40
The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells us that the death of Stephen forced the Greek-speaking apostles of Jesus out of Jerusalem; the apostles however stayed there. Saul (later Paul) continued his persecution. The persecution did not stop the Word of God from spreading. Even those who have fled such as Philip were able to preach in Samaria and throughout Judea. In history, the Samaritans were despised by the Jews because they were a mixed race: they were descendants of both Israelites and foreigners. In fact, they were considered unclean and Jews on the way to Jerusalem would avoid the shortest route to Jerusalem because they would pass by Samaria. They do not want to be unclean. But these Samaritans believed in the preaching of Philip and many were converted because of the many signs Philip was performing in the name of Jesus.
We do believe that if it is God’s will, nothing can stop God; even if it is being curtailed by our wrong decisions or the deliberate actions of others. We live in a world that seems to be hopeless; and more and more we find ourselves helpless and voiceless in a world governed by few individuals who have the power and the resources to threaten our life, our families and our country. We live in a world where graft and corruption is already a culture. And it is no joke to go against a culture. However, our Christian faith tells us not to be resigned to what is happening and to succumb to the culture of death.
In our personal lives, the same hope is essential. Many have wondered what could have been if they chose another path in their lives; the path which is not what God wanted them to be in the first place. We sometimes believe that if we make a great mistake, we are doomed forever. Will their lives be miserable forever? What about those who have made a mistake in their vocations: a priest who could have been better off as a family man; or a family person who could have been a good minister as a celibate religious; or a married woman who pines for her ex? What about those who are already single parents, or those who have been abandoned by one of their parents? What about those who have a child out of wedlock? Is there a way to straighten out a mistake?
Not considering the impediments that makes a commitment null and void, there are things that are forever like marriage and the priesthood. That is why whenever we make a lifetime decision, we must make a good and prayerful discernment; we have always encouraged a longer time for courtship for would-be couples as well as several years in seminary formation. Within a vocation, there is a universe in which we can move and act freely. Within it, we can straighten out what we have, in the first place, regretted. God can help us straighten our paths, despite our decisions. Relationships are worked out too; you can’t just change someone like changing clothes. Even about clothes, once we buy them, we cannot return them to the store if we later on regret buying them. The people who have become part of one’s vocations are not worth hurting: our families, our parishioners, our fellow community members, and for married couples, their partners. Some relationships are not arbitrary; we should not think that we can just do what we want to. I believe the older we get, the more mature we become, there are commitments that should not be broken. Therefore to keep it demands painful dying to our selves. These commitments are worthy dying for. There are times when we just have to sacrifice “what I feel” --- the things that are forever does not depend on feelings or else everything is volatile and ever changing. It is painful, I am not denying it, there are values that are more worthy than our lives: heroes and martyrs do die for them. Our universe within our chosen vocations contains people whose lives are interconnected with ours. My heart goes out to children whose lives have been greatly affected by their family conglomeration.
In other words, we can work out our lives fully well even if it first began as a mistake. We have seen single parents who took care of their children as best as they can. We have family friends who worked out their relationships and are now living a healthy family life. There are many success stories that proves that God can straighten things out. God has given us the freedom to determine our lives: thus, we can actually chose to be miserable by blaming ourselves forever or we can stop condemning ourselves and begin to start afresh. God wants us to live fully, and He will give us the grace we need to have it, despite our mistakes in the past.