The story is told about a man who ordered three bottles of beer every day at the bar. The reason? He said he was fulfilling a pact with his two brothers as part of their bonding across the miles. One day he ordered only two bottles. Before the bartender could express his condolences, the man said: “My brothers are fine. It’s about me. I have been converted, and I have quit drinking. I’m just here to drink for my brothers.”
In today’s Gospel (Jn. 1, 35-42), we hear of how people who encountered Jesus had a real and lasting conversion. Those who met Him followed Him, stayed with Him, and even brought others to Him. A real encounter with Jesus leads to a real change of heart, a change of lifestyle, and a change of life purpose.
Halfway won’t make it. Think of a delicious-looking lechon that is half-cooked, or a loaf of bread that is half-baked. Almost, but not quite. That is the way many of us are in our journey to God’s heart. May God give us the grace to be more steady, more stable, and more resolved to stay in God’s heart.
Have you ever experienced driving with your hand brake on? That is the picture of many of us as we journey to God’s heart: The accelerator is engaged, and so is the brake. What or who are the “brakes” in our life that make our journey to God’s heart so slow and labored? Let go, and let God.
Andrew brought Peter to Jesus. Have you brought anyone to Jesus? Have other people come closer to God because of you? Don’t keep the faith. Share it! Today, let us remember and thank God for the people who have brought us closer to Him.
God used many people to help me in my journey to the priesthood. I was inspired by my uncle who was a diocesan priest. My vocation was nourished by the Dominican Sisters of Sta. Catalina College, and by the Augustinian Recoletos of San Sebastian College. It was a Sacred Heart missionary (MSC) who “recruited” me to enter the seminary after the sixth grade. I ended up being brought by a Capuchin uncle-priest to Christ the King Seminary run by the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD). Yes, we journey to God’s heart not alone, and our journey is full of mystery, surprises, twists, and turns!
Aside from my parents, there was one significant person who encouraged me to become a priest. Sr. Maria Rosa Go, OP, was our religion teacher in Sta. Catalina College in 1964. Whenever I did well in recitation or written exams, she would always say: “You are a good boy, Jerry. You will become a priest someday.” The power of affirmation! She saw and pointed out something good in me, and made me believe in myself—a shy and insecure 10-year-old, a sixth-grade transferee coming to Manila from the province for the first time. Indeed, kindness is something that works wonders, and is never ever forgotten.
Sister Rosa was simply a kind person, with no agenda or expectations. In fact, she was not aware of her positive effect on me until I invited her to my ordination to the priesthood in October 1980. She promised me that she would always pray for me—a promise she kept all these years, a promise that I believe she continues to keep in heaven, to where she went home last Jan. 8 at the age of 77. Let us never underestimate the value and the power of kindness in other people’s lives, especially when they needed it most.
Think about this: “My goal for 2018 is to accomplish the goals of 2017, which I should have done in 2016, because I promised them in 2015, and planned them in 2014…” No matter what, let’s not give up or lose heart, let’s keep moving on, and let’s keep on trying. Amen!
Sharing with you this prayer for 2018: “May the light of God surround you; may the love of God enfold you; may God place His healing hands upon you and heal you quickly; may the presence of God watch over you; wherever you are, God is.”
A moment with the Lord:
Lord, grant that our encounters with people be a close encounter with You. Amen.
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