The story is told about a man who asked the dentist how much he would be charged for a tooth extraction. “P1,000” was the dentist’s reply. “P1,000 for only two minutes of work?” the man exclaimed. “Well, if you wish, I can extract it very slowly,” the dentist replied.
In today’s gospel (Lk. 12, 49-53), Jesus tells His disciples that He did not come to establish peace on earth but division. The peace that Jesus offers us is not the cozy, comfortable kind of peace, but a peace that is borne out of pain, anguish and conflict. As someone once said, the gospel comforts the disturbed, and disturbs the comfortable.
Fr. Sisoy Cellan, our Filipino SVD missionary who worked in Kenya, writes: “Christian life is not the safest place to be, and certainly not the most peaceful… the price of being a follower of the Lord is steeped with challenges and uncertainties.” This is a good reminder for all of us when we have become too comfortable in familiar shores, and no longer dream, and have lost our desire to cast into deep waters.
Our basic catechism describes the Church in heaven as the Church triumphant; the Church in purgatory as the Church suffering; and the Church on earth as the Church militant. Let us remember that while we live, we continue to struggle, to grow and move on. Let us then continue to ask, raise questions, confront, inquire. Yes, the Christian is an inquirer.
The experience of going through Edsa is like that of the experience of going through a dentist—painful and slow. But for many of us, that of the dentist is only once in a while, while that of Edsa is a daily grind. So, too, is our journey to God’s heart. It is a daily struggle, marked by trials and setbacks, but, like Edsa and visits to a dentist, it is often filled with surprises, unexpected speed, and yes, we always somehow get through!
What the Lord wants to tell us is that there will always be trials, irritants, sadness, disappointments and pain in our journey, but that we should not give up! We must keep moving. Like in Edsa, we can encounter traffic and get hit from all sides, but we patiently move on, not lose our cool and humor through it all, and somehow reach our destination.
God knows how to remind us of His presence and His love, especially when we need it most. Feeling tired during an evening Mass, there she was in the congregation, someone who looked and smiled like Mama, to remind me that I am not alone, nor be forlorn. Yes, as we journey on, there will always be reminders of God’s love and faithfulness.
Tomorrow is the feast of St. Ezekiel Moreno, known as the patron saint of cancer patients. He was a Spanish Augustinian Recollect missionary from Monteagudo, Spain, and was ordained in the Philippines in 1871, where he worked for 15 years in Calapan, Palawan, Batangas, Las Piñas and Cavite.
He had a special love and zeal for the sick. He himself had cancer of the palate. He died on Aug. 19, 1906, and was canonized on Oct. 11, 1992.
I personally experienced his fatherly presence and healing through his statue that constantly shed perspiration and tears during my bout with cancer last year. After my last chemotherapy in November 2018, it no longer shed tears, nor perspired, as if telling me that my cancer is gone. His statue, which was given to me by Maribi Garcia and Fr. Soy Hernando, MB, remains in our Mission Home in Christ the King Seminary where people have come to pray and ask for his loving intercession.
A moment with the Lord:
Lord, help us to keep going, and keep on inquiring as we journey on. Amen.
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