I once visited an old parish in Cebu as part of our vocation campaign. When I arrived at the parish convent at around dusk, the parish priest introduced me to his staff and showed me around the vicinity. The area looked strange and eerie: the church façade, stairs, and the bedroom assigned to me gave me the creeps, especially with surrounding antique effigies. Some church workers I met made me even more jittery: the old bell ringer looked spooky with his swollen eye, the secretary had several lumps on her neck, and the cook seemed like a witch. And yet, despite their physical conditions, the parish priest treated them with dignity and respect. My first impressions of the place and the people, on the other hand, made me so antsy and uncomfortable because I judged them based on their physical attributes, and not on who they are. This changed when I got to know them better during my week-long stay.
The experience enabled me to see God behind some strange realities in those people and it truly moved my heart to love them. I was able to recognize the presence of God in them. I saw that they embraced the will of God in their lives, especially the secretary and the bell ringer, who both have cancer, yet there was Christian joy in their faces. The bell ringer, who had a brain tumor, told me he was sharing in the sufferings of Jesus.
It seemed that almost everyone did not want to get closer to them. Yet, they were doing their best to serve God in that old parish church. I remember that, when I was about to leave, they humbly asked for my prayers. I treasured the moments when I was with them, as they taught me a priceless lesson of true joy that a person can experience if only he accepts and embraces the will of God with love.
Today’s Gospel taught me about obedience to the will of the Father. Our Lord Jesus Christ performed not only miracles and saved humanity, but also obeyed the will of the Father, especially by sacrificing Himself on the cross for our salvation. Submission to God’s will requires humility, impartiality, and wholeheartedness. As followers of God, we need to submit to His perfect plan because He knows what is best for us. It is an act of faith, with the love of God as our assurance. This love does not change, for God cannot go against His nature. He is LOVE. Our Lord Jesus Christ showed us that obedience to God’s will leads to eternal life. Only in God can we truly find the fullness of life and everything that is good.
By: Sem. Ace Vergel D. Quilope
While they were all amazed at his every deed,
Jesus said to his disciples,
“Pay attention to what I am telling you.
The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.”
But they did not understand this saying;
its meaning was hidden from them
so that they should not understand it,
and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.