Sincerity of heart


The story is told about a little girl who prayed: “Lord, I’m running late for the Mass. Please help me!” As soon as she said that, she tripped and fell to the ground. Whereupon she said: “Lord, I asked you to help me, not push me!”

* * *

In today’s Gospel (Mk. 12, 41-44), Jesus reminds us that God does not want to “push” people to do good. On the contrary, God wants people to do good out of sincerity. It is not so much the quantity as the quality of our giving that matters, as Jesus pointed out often when He put value to the widow’s mite rather than to the rich people’s surplus wealth.

* * *

As God does not want to push people, it is equally true that He does not want to be “pushed” by people. Nor can He be. It is wrong and presumptuous on our part to think that we can manipulate God. God’s ways are not man’s ways.

* * *

In June 1987, when my father was fighting for his life at the ICU in St. Luke’s Hospital, I prayed so hard to make him live a little bit longer. I bargained and haggled with God, reminding Him that my father was a good man. Besides, I told Him in earnest, was not my being a priest and a missionary to Korea reason enough to let my father live? I even stayed every night at the emergency room, blessing and anointing the sick and the dying just to somehow “push” the Lord to listen to my prayer! But all that did not work. My father eventually died on June 23, after 10 days at the ICU. I must admit that it took me some time to accept God’s will. Eventually, I did. Now I know that indeed, we can propose but it is God who will ultimately dispose.

* * *

And yet, this God who cannot be “pushed” can in His own terms and time, be moved by a simple and sincere heart. He is so big, yet He can stop for a child, or go out of His way for a repentant heart!

* * *

Last November 3, an Airbus 330 plane, already about to go onto the runway, went back to the tarmac because one passenger wanted to deplane. Philippine Airlines’ Flight 408 from Manila to Osaka in Japan was delayed for an hour because the pilot, Capt. Percival Padla, decided, upon the recommendation of purser Ingrid Nakpil, to heed the wish of a Japanese national not to take the flight anymore because of his sickness which he said was contagious. I thought that was very good of PAL to consider the safety of all its passengers, even if it meant loss of time and revenues. And throughout the flight, I was filled with reflection on the goodness of our great God, for whom every person is worth stopping for.

* * *

In our recent trip to Akita in Japan, we had Taka as our guide. He is an unbeliever, but I was very edified by what he had shared with me. According to Taka, he is doing good things because it is the right thing to do. In other words, goodness itself, not pressure or reward, is the reason for doing good. He also said that what is important among us is respect for and appreciation of each other. In terms of faith and spirituality, Taka may be considered “poor,” but his is a good heart filled with sincerity and love.

* * *

We have 11 Filipino SVD missionaries working in Japan, where less than 1 percent of the population is Christian. Fr. Chito Lorenzo, SVD, who has been in Japan for the past 22 years, shared with me that in terms of quantity and activity, missionary work in that country is slow. Their mission is to stay on, to be with the Japanese people, even if only to become witnesses of our faith (“ad testimonium fidei”).

* * *

Come to think of it, what can we really give to God? All we have is from Him. Our very way of life is from Him. All our so-called achievements are made possible because of Him. All we can really give back is our heart and our free will, and our loving obedience. All He asks of us is our heart that loves Him in return.

* * *

“If religion were a thing that money can buy, then the rich would live, and the poor would die!” Thus goes a song in the 1960s, which reminds us that God cannot be appeased and heaven cannot be bought by worldly riches. To those who broadcast their material contributions to charity or to the church, please remember that “the gift without the bearer is bare.” Generosity must be accompanied with spontaneity, sincerity, and secrecy.

* * *

Someone sent me this text message: “P-U-S-H means Pray Until Something Happens!” I think the better meaning would be Pray Until Someone Hears. We don’t make things happen by our prayers. Ultimately, it is He who hears, and who makes things happen.

* * *

Think about this: “There comes a moment each day when we must simply drop what weighs on us, and hand it over to God. May the Lord bless us with what we pray for, reward us with what we work for, grant us what we hope for, and above all, surprise us with what we have not asked for.”

* * *

A moment with the Lord:

Lord, more than what I do and what I have, I offer you my heart, my sincerity, and love. Amen.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=40524

Tags: Catholic Church , Fr. Jerry M. Orbos , Gospel , Moments , opinion , Religion , Sincerity , SVD

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • DOH asks co-passengers of OFW carrier to test for MERS-CoV
  • ‘Shouldn’t we move?’ Ferry evacuation under scrutiny
  • 5.5-magnitude quake hits Sultan Kudarat
  • Passengers denied chance to escape sinking South Korea ferry
  • Firetruck rams California eatery; 15 injured
  • Sports

  • PH youth boxers off to stumbling start in AIBA World tilt
  • Durant has 42, Thunder beat Pistons 112-111
  • Walker leads Bobcats over Bulls in OT, 91-86
  • Man City slips further out of title contention
  • Federer would skip tennis to be with wife, newborn
  • Lifestyle

  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • Entertainment

  • Will Arnett files for divorce from Amy Poehler
  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Derek more private with new girlfriend
  • Business

  • Asia stocks fail to match Wall Street gains
  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • PH presses bid to keep rice import controls
  • PSEi continues to gain
  • Number of retrenched workers rose by 42% in ’13
  • Technology

  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Tech company: Change passwords or suffer ‘Heartbleed’
  • Filling the digital talent gap
  • SSS to shut down website for Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Syria most dangerous country for journalists, PH 3rd—watchdog
  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  • First Fil-Am elected to Sierra Madre, Calif. city council
  • UC Irvine cultural night to dramatize clash of values in immigrant family
  • Filipino sweets and info served at UC Berkeley Spring Fest
  • Marketplace