The story is told of a reporter who asked a group of people at a political rally: “Were you forced to come here?” In chorus, they shouted: “No!” Then he asked them: “Were you transported here?” Again, they shouted: “No!” And finally, the reporter asked: “Were you paid to come here?” They forcefully shouted: “Not yet! Not yet!”

* * *

In today’s gospel (Jn. 21, 1-19), we hear of Jesus appearing to his disciples, who, soon after his crucifixion, had gone back to fishing—their profession before they received their call or their vocation. The “dream” was gone, and they had to work and make a living. From unlimited skies, down to the bottom line, the disciples felt that it was good while it lasted. But they had to go back to their painful reality, until the Lord made them remember, and surprised them again!

* * *

“God, surprise us again!” This is a beautiful prayer we all should pray at any moment of our lives, especially at our darkest moments. Oh, yes, our God is a God of surprises, and of second chances!

* * *

The biggest surprise of the disciples after the resurrection was that they have been forgiven by the Lord whom they abandoned. Forgiveness was the single biggest turning point in their lives. If we have not yet experienced what it is like to fall, and be forgiven, then something very essential is terribly lacking in our Christian lives. A person who has been forgiven has a better chance of redemption than one who is righteous and proud—who self-righteously thinks he/she merits heaven.

* * *

It is important to accept and to remember who we are and what we have been through.

Last April 8, the whole of Israel, as well as Jews all over the world, celebrated “Ha Shoa,” the day of remembering the six million Jews who were killed in the Holocaust. On that day, there were no entertainment activities all over Israel. Schools and the media played stories about the Holocaust, and at 10 a.m. a siren sounded all over that country. People paused, prayed, and remembered.

* * *

Today, please pause and remember who you are, and what you have been. Today, as a nation, let us also remember what we were, what we have been, and what we have become (hopefully, without a sigh!).

* * *

“We remember how you loved us, to your death, and still we celebrate for you are with us still. And we believe that we will see you when you come in your glory, Lord! We remember, we celebrate, we believe!”

* * *

Politicians are now going around the country, asking people to vote for them in the coming elections. They should remember that they are to become public servants. Our people, too, should remember to vote wisely, and to vote with a conscience.

* * *

Praying at the Stations of the Cross at the Via Dolorosa is a very meaningful and uplifting experience. It is a beautiful devotion where one can join one’s personal sufferings to that of Christ. But it takes a deeper meaning when, aside from our own sufferings, we become aware of the sufferings of other people, and go out of our way to reach out and help them.

* * *

It was an amazing sight when, during our Stations of the Cross, fellow pilgrims took turns in pushing the wheelchairs of our elderly pilgrims. Remember, our personal devotions and prayers please God, but our works of love please Him more.

* * *

At the predeparture gate of our Dubai-Manila flight recently, there was a Filipino woman who was in tears. Why? Her 25-year-old husband had died, and she was going home to Iligan City after only two months in Saudi Arabia. All she was bringing home was P1,500 from her employer. Right there and then, I asked my fellow pilgrims to take up a collection, and in no time at all, we gathered a substantial amount for her to bring to her four children who were waiting for her to come home.

For me, that was the finest moment for my fellow pilgrims. Remember, spiritual renewal should lead to concrete works of charity and love.

* * *

A boy asked an old man: “Sir, when is the best time to pray?” The old man replied: “My son, the best day to pray is the day before you die.” Asked the boy: “But how can I possibly know the day when I will die?” The old man said: “Precisely! We do not know when we will die. That’s why we need to pray every single day of our life.”

Remember, life is short. Let’s make every day the best day of our life.

* * *

Think about this: Don’t feel bitter when people remember you only when they need you. Rather, feel privileged that you are like a candle that people remember when there’s darkness in their lives.

* * *

A moment with the Lord:

Lord, help me to remember, help me not to forget to live my life with love, and not with regrets. Amen.

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