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Easter peace and joy

The story is told about a man who lacked peace and joy in his heart because of his inability to love everyone. “Lord, should I love even those who are hypocrites, proud, insincere, and abusive?” he asked. The Lord replied: “Just love everyone now. I’ll sort them out later.”

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. The source of true peace and joy is the humble acknowledgment and acceptance of God’s constant and immeasurable mercy, and our effort to extend it to others as well. As we have been forgiven much, may we do the same to others. Let us be grateful for God’s love, and let us also be generous with God’s love.

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In today’s Gospel (Jn. 20: 19-31), the Risen Lord greets His fear-laden and guilt-ridden disciples with “Peace be with you.” It was a greeting of acceptance and assurance that all was forgiven, and that it was time to move on and get going with their mission.

Fear, guilt and doubt can make us stop or make our journey to God’s heart difficult. We have to let go of this baggage involving humility and trust, and just keep on believing that we are loved no matter what. Like Thomas, may we say and keep saying, “My Lord, and my God.”

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I led many recollection sessions this Lenten season, particularly last Holy Week. The most powerful message is the message of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son…” It is a message worth repeating and retelling. It was, and still is, the greatest story ever told.

During the Holy Week I had no chance for any personal recollection, but I had the most touching and powerful ones when I heard the confessions of my brother priests. It was a humbling experience, a reminder of who I am, what I was, and what I can still be because of God’s tremendous grace and mercy. We all are sinners, but God is merciful and gracious.

On Easter Sunday I had the privilege of meeting a “giant” in the person of Edgardo Sindico on the occasion of his 95th birthday, during which I officiated at a Mass. He is physically and mentally strong, and he has behind him many achievements as a lawyer and government official, but more so as a loving husband, father and grandfather. But what touched me most was seeing him kneel on the floor after he received Holy Communion. A humble giant, a gentle giant who knows how to kneel before God.

Another classmate has gone home to meet the Risen Lord. Fr. Rodrigo Advincula, SVD, had a late vocation; he joined us in the novitiate after serving as a public school teacher in Palawan. We called him “Tatang.” But because of his spirit of peace and joy, he remained young at heart, and looked amazingly young at 75!

Many people from all walks of life were recipients of Father Rod’s kindness and generosity during the years of his ministry in foreign missions like Argentina and Colombia, and in various local parishes. Before his demise, he was chaplain of La Salle Greenhills High School, where he served as an

inspiration to and blended with the youth.

I had the chance to bless and pray over Father Rod at the intensive care unit of the Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. It was a privilege to accompany a confrere to the doorsteps of eternity, where we, too, will be standing someday. Until we meet again, Father Rod, in that kingdom of sustained peace and joy.

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Think about this: “Life is like a notebook. Two pages are already written by God. The first page is birth, and the last page is death. In between the first and the last page, the notebook is empty, to be filled up by us with kindness, humility and faith in God.”

The secret of a peaceful life is found in the first line of our Blessed Mother’s “Magnificat”: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior.” Let us magnify—i.e., glorify—the Lord, and not ourselves, not our problems, not our sins, not our power and possessions. In the same way, let us rejoice—i.e., be happy and find joy—in God, and not in ourselves, not in our problems, not in our sins and vices, not in our power and possessions. Peace is when we

acknowledge that God is greater than us, and when God becomes our true joy.

A moment with the Lord:

Lord, in You alone can we find our true peace and joy. Amen.

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