Tuesday, September 18, 2018
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Moments

Go slow and stay low

The story is told about a man who was stopped by a policeman on an expressway. “Officer, was my car running too fast?”, asked the driver. “Actually, your plane was flying too low, Sir,” was the policeman’s reply.

In today’s Gospel (Mk. 3, 20-35), Jesus experienced being criticized by the crowd for His words and work, judged to be “out of His mind” or “possessed by Beelzebul.” As it was then, so too still now; there will always be people who will criticize, judge and misunderstand. “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situations are part of a disciple’s life. Whether you go fast or slow, high or low, there will always be self-appointed critics, judges, and bashers around.

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Not only the crowd, but even relatives and so-called friends will and can become the source of persecutions. Jesus reminds us today to stay focused on the will of God. A true disciple must learn to keep going beyond the maddening and demanding crowd, keep on seeking God’s presence and listen to His marching orders in prayer and in silence.

Make sure you are not living a life so caught up and imprisoned by this world’s measures and standards. If you get involved in the rat race, you end up living like a rat, filled with so many insecurities and exhausted in a useless, vain and empty race. And stop “keeping up with the Joneses.” Be yourself. Be your best self, according to God’s standards, and you’ll have a peaceful life. Remember, it is not what “they” say, but what God says, that matters now and in the end.

Fr. Jose San Juan, SVD, went home to his creator last June 1 at the age of  74. I wrote about him 15 years ago in my  Inquirer column dated July 15, 2001: “Very refreshing in itself was the experience of being with Fr. SJ once again. This missionary has spent all his 27 years as a priest serving different towns in Oriental Mindoro. A former ‘Student Canteen’ champion before he entered the seminary, Fr. SJ uses his voice to sing God’s praises wherever he goes. But more than talents, more than abilities, Fr. SJ has the caring heart of a pastor. He loves his people, and his people love him. But for me, Fr. SJ’s biggest achievement is his care and concern for his fellow priests, including this priest. Fr. SJ is one priest who carries no trash. He has helped ‘break in’ about 30 new priests through the years, and has helped many a brother priest. As Fr. SJ would sing, ‘he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.’”

By the way, the winning song of Fr. SJ in the “Student Canteen” singing competition was “The Twelfth of Never.” Fr. Linus Nicasio, SVD, in his homily during Fr. SJ’s funeral Mass, beautifully pictured Fr. SJ finally coming before the Lord, and the Lord telling him, “SJ, you asked how much I love you? I’ll tell you true… I love you until the twelfth of never… and that’s a long, long time.”

Fr. SJ was a kind person. During his wake, many people spontaneously recalled how they were helped by this simple, humble and caring person. Bebeth Ricohermosa, from Socorro, Oriental Mindoro, recalled in tears how Fr. SJ helped her go to and finish her college course. She went on to become successful in her career, and is now a proud mother of a doctor, a chef and an engineer.

Bebeth is just one of the many grateful scholars of Fr. SJ. Thank you, Fr. SJ, dear confrere, mentor and friend!

My x-ray last June 5 showed that the 1.7-centimeter nodule on my left lung is still there, but it has not become enlarged. In fact, it has become a bit smaller. That, in itself, is a miracle. Thank you to all those who prayed. Let us pray on, and pray more, and keep on believing in the kindness of our God, and in the power of prayer. God is good! God is loving and merciful. Amen!

Go slow and stay low. This is a good reminder for us as we journey on. Our journey is not so much about going far and high and fast. Mama Mary, whose feast of her Immaculate Heart we celebrated yesterday, tells us that our true journey in this world is our journey to the heart—to God’s heart, to other people’s hearts, and to our very own hearts.

A moment with the Lord: Lord, help us to learn to go slow and stay low as we journey on. Amen.

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