THE BIBLE IN EVANGELIZATION IN THE PHILIPPINES TODAY

(A talk presented at the First Consultation of Regional Centers for the Biblical Apostolate in the Philippines

Oct. 24-26, 1988 at Immaculate Conception School of Theology, Vigan, Ilocos Sur)

By: Estrella Cui del Mar

Cebu Lay Formation Center

St. Jerome Biblical Center

The Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God, as the plan of the Father’s love, is the central message of Jesus’ proclamation in the New Testament. “The Kingdom of God is at hand! Repent and believe in the Good News!” (Mk 1:15).

The Kingdom of God truly is here when we allow God to be the king and master of our lives consistently and constantly.  The Kingdom is here when there’s love, harmony, justice, freedom, and peace for everyone everywhere.

Perhaps we experience every now and then glimpses of this Kingdom but to make it a permanent reality remains a dream at this time. Why? The answers to this question are many and varied.  Even our concept of God is varied.  Maybe, this is even a very basic question. Who is God for me?  Who is Jesus for me? And who is He for you? Shall we repeat what we were taught in our catechism to answer this?

Do you still remember the very first person in your life who introduced God and Christ to you?  How were you introduced to Him and He to you?

I’ve asked this question to several people and most of them answered that their mother introduced God and Christ to them. What about the father?  Some put the father all together aside and some would say “Papa follows Mama.”  By the way, whoever started the idea that an additional role of women is to go to church and pray for the whole family?  It is as if, it’s another function of women only.  Perhaps this idea has changed lately but even then, try to compare the number of women congregations to that of men’s or the women’s church organizations to men’s.

Perhaps, that is looking at our faith and religiosity from a family’s view.  What about as a people – the Filipino people? How were we introduced to the God whom the Spaniards brought to us? And how did we respond then and now? What has happened to us then and now?  Can we really call our nation, a Christian nation – and Catholic at that?

These are a few questions which triggered in my mind when I read Fr. Herrera’s statement, “As the awareness of historicity is intensified in modern man/woman, the newness of the historical situation in relation to the past can be better perceived. The Church has to answer these new challenges with new strategies.  It is in this light that new evangelization presents itself.”

New Challenges and Their Responses.

Present History as the Task of New Evangelization

Vatican II taught us to discover the presence and the action of God who saves and reveals Himself in events and words, that is, in the history of salvation and revelation.  To find in Jesus Christ, the savior and the revealer of the Father, the meaning of history and to change it through the power of the Holy Spirit, is the task of our new evangelization.  Therefore, the claim is no longer to transmit the contents of truth in order to illuminate the spirit but to interpret history.

Fr. Herrera responds that evangelization is the task of the total Christian community and that it implies the building of community in the social context and in the context of relationships with other nations.

My reflections and questions are: First of all, nobody can change the past which has become part of our history.  Perhaps there is a new way of looking at it in view of the present and the visions for the future.  And if evangelization is the task of the total community, who initiates this and how?  And if it implies the building of community in the social context, where does this all begin if not in the home as the basic unit of society? I’d like to go back to this historical point later.

The Gap between the Rich and the Poor in the Christian context.

The scandalous accumulation of goods created by God for everyone and the progressing poverty which leads to dehumanization of large masses who are systematically pushed to the margins of society is a new fact which characterizes our modern historical situation.  Those who enslave and oppress call themselves Christians as do those who are enslaved and oppressed.  This situation, on the other hand, sanctioned and legitimized by laws and institutions, amounts to a state which could be called institutionalized violence.

It demands to follow Jesus Christ adopting with full clarity his program of liberation (pls. read Lk 4:18-21).  The program of Jesus implies: A radical option for the poor in order to save the rich and the poor. Jesus placed Himself on the side of the poor.

To permit oneself to be evangelized by them in an experience of communion of life, implies acceptance of them as mediators of evangelization.  Liberation is realized in the ecclesial community.

Radical option for the poor has been understood in different ways as there could be various ways of adopting this.  Usually the poor here is understood to be the materially poor.  Poverty leads to dehumanization which applies to the materially poor and the rich as well.

To live in a condition deprived of the basic necessities of life is a dehumanized situation.  But what about the oppressor who consciously and willfully oppresses his victim?  Is that still human?

Who is more free, the rich or the poor? Who are held captives of their wealth, greed and power? Who are imprisoned in their own high walls, high positions and insatiable ambitions?  Sometimes, I wonder who is the prisoner and who is the free person? who is the blind and who is the enlightened?  And yet the cries of the poor are valid and real – basic human rights and justice!

Are we willing to be evangelized by the poor and have a constant awareness of our own poverty and/or bondages?

Right to Christian Formation at all Levels.

There has been a big boom on seminars given to the lay people after Vatican II.  Before, formation was more for the priests and the religious.  They had to go through that.  Now, we speak of lay formation. (Good)

There is however, a danger in the planning of our formation program for the laity especially on the grassroots level.  We go to them as teachers.  We know and they don’t know, as if we can give all the answers to their questions.  But we are not there to give answers but to facilitate and help them to live with their problems.  The Spirit does the work with them, not us!

Should there be a special form of evangelization for priests and bishops?

Pluralism and Cultural Invasion.

Groups of people evangelized today do not possess a cultural identity.  To this is to be added a cultural invasion or colonialization promoted gradually through the media of social communication.

Perhaps, we should remember what Bishop Kenneth Cragg once said: Our first task in approaching another people, another culture, another religion, is TO TAKE OFF OUR SHOES for the place we are approaching is holy.  Else we may find ourselves treading on men’s dreams.  More seriously still, we may forget that GOD was there before our arrival.”

Evangelizing does not mean imposing, dominating or dogmatizing but rather entering into dialogue and creating a productive tension which provokes the growth and maturity of persons in the thrust of the gospel.

I see that the situation in the Philippines is that of confused cultural identity.  We have regionalistic attitudes. Some Tagalogs seem to think that they are superior over the Visayans.  Even our national language is a cause for disparity rather than unity.  The people in the Visayas and Mindanao would prefer to use Visayan or the Ilocanos would also prefer Ilocano or the Ilonggos would rather use Ilonggo, etc.  The Filipino Indigenous People are looked down as secondary citizens by calling them minorities. Then we have the religious division between the Muslims and Christians in different parts of the Philippines. These and more are realities in our country today.  Are we able to dialogue in faith?

Reading of the Bible by the People.

If we look back to our beginnings as Christians, we know that the Spaniards brought to us the cross and the sword.  It seems that we were given the conservative, traditional and doctrinal introduction to the Christian faith which has become a personal affinity to a structured system (i.e. the institutional church) rather than knowing Christ and following Him not only in His experience of Calvary but also His works and deeds which led Him to His passion, death and resurrection.

In Manila, the Jesus Nazareno (the suffering Jesus carrying the cross) is very popular, perhaps to console our people’s sufferings as if it’s all a matter of fate.  When can we experience our resurrection?

In Cebu, Sto. Nino (the child Jesus) is very popular. Cebu had been the cradle of Christianity in the Philippines and until now it’s still in the cradle!  Our Jesus has to grow too, so the grown up Jesus who faced rulers, kings, Pharisees, sinners, devils and all – to bring the Good News to everyone.

Perhaps we are a little late in appreciating to read the Bible since we were given the catechism as substitute for the Bible which remained in the hands of the Protestants.  A symbol of the former evangelization was the catechism.  The historical dimension had the sacraments as its center.  We were given the SIGNS but not the WORD to explain their meanings!

We were used to the rituals and the devotions (private or public).  We’ve been used to our novenas and rosaries, cultic sacrifices as in fiestas even to the extent of borrowing money to provide for a grand banquet for a celebration. We’ve been used to fanfares and colors in our religious celebrations that we use them also for tourist attraction and business.

These have been part of our culture and tradition. Therefore, how can we make the people appreciate Scripture reading without threatening their attachments to popular religiosity? 

What is the difference in the treatment of the Bible by the Catholics from that of the Protestants in our biblical apostolate aside from the fact that our Bible has more books than theirs?

Herrera said that Vatican II taught us to discover God in the history of salvation and secondly, it decided to provide for all the Christian faithful easy access to Sacred Scriptures.  Furthermore, he said, that the total richness of tradition is preserved and revitalized when Christians view their lives in the light of the history of salvation as described in Sacred Scriptures and at the same time read the Bible in the light of their and the ecclesial community’s experience of life.

The central point of the new evangelization is the Word of God with its historical expression which is the community of the Church. This centrality of God’s Word translates itself in an operative way in communities which read the Sacred Scriptures in order to define the salvific sense of history through faith in Jesus Christ.

Now, let’s put this in the Philippine context.

Perhaps in view of these, we face new challenges in the New Evangelization with the Bible for the Filipinos today which are the following:

  • To discover the God of exodus (of the Israelites) in the exodus events in our lives as individuals and as a people.  Was there a God at work in our own history?
  • To see the context of the ways by which God revealed Himself in the Old Testament and New Testament and contextualize these in our own situations and communities.
  • To see in our own Philippine history, the revelation of Yahweh, Jesus Christ and the Spirit in the events and experiences of the Filipino as a people.
  • To be able to articulate our lamentations and hopes as a people of real unity and community which are possible only when we can accept one another as brothers and sisters. “I am your God and you are my people!” And when we pray the “Our Father”, do we see each other as brothers and sisters under one fatherhood of God?

What we read in the papers or hear over the radios are news of killings (Filipino killing his brother Filipino), crimes, graft and corruption issues, political intrigues, etc. that it is difficult to get some good news in all these?  Where are the true Christians?

There is a great need for conversion, forgiveness and reconciliation.  People are hurt and we continue hurting each other in many different ways.

I’d like to share with you a story I read from Fr.de Mello’s book:

A guru asked his disciples how they could tell when the night had ended and the day begun.

One said, “When you see an animal at a distance and can tell whether it’s a cow or a horse.”

“No,” said the guru.

When you look at a tree at a distance and can tell if it’s a neem tree or a mango tree.”

“Wrong again”, said the guru.

“Well then, what is it?” asked the disciples.

“When you look into the face of any man and recognize your brother in him; when you look into the face of any woman and recognize in her your sister.  If you cannot do this, no matter what time it is by the sun, it is still night.”

Maybe we need to go back to the basics.  If the Bible is the great love story between God and man, we need to recapture and relish this LOVE in our own lives, for it is only in the experience of being loved that we could love in return.  How far have we yet experienced being loved by God?  How have we responded as an individual? As a community? As a people?

After all that has been said and done, we have but one essential problem and failure: we have failed to love as Christ wants us to love one another!

I’d like to end this with a short dialogue between the master and his disciple:

Disciple: “What’s the difference between knowledge and enlightenment?”

Master:  “When you have knowledge, you use a torch to show the way.  When you are enlightened, you become the torch!”

In our biblical apostolate, we need enlightened people who can be good news for others.  We need people who can bring the Father’s love to all so that the Kingdom of God can reign constantly in the Philippines.

Then people from other nations can look at us as a Christian nation and say “see how they love one another!”

GOD’S LOVE HEALS A SUFFERING WORLD

Theme of the 2022 National Bible Week Celebration in the Philippines   

By: Estrella (Star) del Mar

16 For this is how God loved the world: He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.  17 For God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world but so that through him, the world might be saved. 18 No one who believes in him might be judged; but whoever does not believe is judged already, because that person does not believe in the Name of God’s only Son.  19 And the judgment is this:  though the light has come into the world, people have preferred darkness to the light because their deeds were evil. 

20 And indeed, everybody who does wrong, hates the light and avoids it, to prevent his actions from being shown up; 21 but whoever does the truth comes out into the light, so that what he is doing may plainly appear as done in God.

(John 3:16-21)

This passage is very famous for its first verse.  But the succeeding verses are equally important.  Verses 18 and the following, show the situation we are in now.  Read again verses 20 -21.

Why do our world suffer now?  Why the pandemic killing and making millions get infected? Why super typhoons destroying farmlands, houses, electrical posts and water supply?  Why earthquakes?  Why tsunami? Why big fires that burn down several houses and people?  Why war that kills civilians, women and children?  Why fake news and various kinds of activities that rob, corrupt, and make people poor?  Why so many injustices and crimes?  Why drug war and drug addicts? Then people ask “where is God?   Why does He allow all these to happen? 

We are looking at the events, effects and consequences of something that is the source of all evil.  A few seem to benefit from these all:  the rich getting richer, the powerful getting more powerful, the drug lords getting global wealth, the corrupt officials getting more corrupt working as a team, businessmen who are more concerned of their profits than of their poor workers, middlemen getting more profits than the farmers who worked and toiled the soil under the heat, ETC. ETC.  The litany seems endless!  There is so much greed, envy and thirst for power and more power.  Then people ask “where is God?  Why does He allow all these?  Why does He allow the evil to prosper?”

 And yet our theme tells us:  God’s Love heals a suffering world.  How?  Can we see, feel, experience God’s love in all that the world suffer? When we talk about a suffering world, this is not just about people.  This includes our natural world – Nature, Kalikasan, the plants and animals in the land and seas.  Many of their kinds are totally or almost extinct now.  The Philippines continued to export lumber even when our forest are getting bald for deforestation.  We tolerate illegal logging because of the powerful owners or supporters.  We allow big time farmers to deplete our soil, poison our land with pesticides and chemical fertilizers and genetic alterations to get more harvest even with their low quality.  And our small farmers who use the old method are left behind getting harvest at a losing business. 

We allow our seas to be fished by foreigners who get our most precious fish supply, brought to their country, and returned to us as frozen fish and sea food sold in our markets and restaurants.  We allow more big time fishing vessels that our small time fisher folks are left with the remains of their catch.  ETC. ETC.  Are these God’s work and God’s will?

We get more super typhoons every year.  What happened to the natural global wind movement?  Where are our mountains that used to be buffers of the wind to find its natural course around the world?  Why have we flattened the mountains and mined our rich mountains to its depletion that the future generations have none to mine anymore?

Urban cities have expanded their land acquisitions to the hillsides and mountains. Cities have all roads and byways cemented thereby making them water-proofed thereby preventing water absorption of our land to return to underground water for our wells, and reserve water for our plants/trees during summer.  Rain water runs through water repellent streets that cause floods since the drainage that brings the water to the canals and rivers could not carry the volume.

Global warming is real.  The ozone layer has been destroyed and the opening in our atmosphere is getting bigger and bigger thus we need additional protection from ultra violet radiation that cause a lot of destruction to nature and people. ETC. ETC. I could go on and on but we may be changing the topic to an Ecology lecture.

Does God wills all these to happen to us?  Are we victims or have we caused all these?  This may require a deeper and longer reflection beyond this short sharing.

So HOW does God’s LOVE HEALS a suffering world?  The answer has been given to us by God, Himself, when His warning strategies given by the Prophets were not heard by the people.  He gave His only Son to complete the covenant but that the covenant continues with us through the sacrifice of His Son – the Word made Flesh in Jesus Christ!

Those of us who have a personal relationship with Jesus know what I am talking about.  Those of us who try our best to overcome our human limitations to follow Jesus’ teachings and examples are contributing to the HEALING PROCESS of this suffering world.  Those of us who are honest and do not give in to the temptation of greed, corruption, earning big money without working.  Those who do not exploit people and abuse them simply because they were not given opportunities for better education and opportunities. Those of us who do not allow ourselves to be corrupted with easy money like dole outs, vote buying or big favors promised if they win the elections.  Those of us who do not sell our dignity and integrity for instant wealth and power.  ETC. ETC.  These are the people who have experienced and recognized God’s LOVE in their lives because they were given BLESSINGS that are shared by caring, generous people who want to share God’s love to them and ask for no repayment.  Those who show unconditional love to others – not only to family or close friends. Those who, like the poor widow, could give his/her all in spite of one’s own poverty! Look at the people who helped the victims of calamities like typhoons, earthquakes, flood, covid pandemic, etc.

Those who trust and hope in the Lord, in spite of endless frustration and seeming desperation to see people change for a better home, a better community, a better country, a better world!

Let us be inspired and encouraged by these verses in our Scripture from the Gospel of Luke 4:16-21.  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives; sight to the blind; to let the oppressed go free; to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord..”

“He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. Then he began to speak to them: This text, is being fulfilled today even while you are listening.”

Truly, they are being fulfilled today by millions of people who have responded to God’s Love or paying forward the blessings received. If “PAYING FORWARD” continues then more and more people are being blessed, healed and changed! 

Are you willing to share with others because you have been blessed?  Are you willing to share with others the little that you have because the joy you experience in giving is bigger than the need of the person being given? 

When we have more and more people who are conscious of being loved by God and blessed, the Spirit of the Lord is truly upon them, upon us!  Can we be among these people? 

Can we refrain from hurting, exploiting, abusing, cheating and spreading fake news to destroy the character and integrity of other people?

As St. Francis said “it is in giving that we receive…”  It is in giving love, that we receive love. 

It is also in giving hatred, destruction, character assassination, bad wishes that we receive the same. People call it “karma”.  Maybe, but I believe that when we do or wish evil things on others, we allow the evil spirit to dwell in us and allow the evil to manage our life or dictate our actions.

Do good to your “neighbor” and you get back inner joy, inner peace and self-fulfillment. You find your life purpose and happiness. You will be proud to report to the good Lord at the day of reckoning!

Just don’t allow yourselves to be exploited and abused.  That is also giving in to the evil ways around us. 

Remember, our “neighbor”, according to Jesus, is the one in need of our help beyond geographic limits!  We are the world!  We need one another!  We heal the world together!

Share God’s LOVE because God’s Love heals a suffering world!   PAY IT FORWARD!

Our Empty Tomb

OUR EMPTY TOMB

By: Estrella (Star) del Mar

 

NEW LIFE!  NEW SELF!  NEW ME!

Easter 2018

Our old sins, old weaknesses, old bad habits are part of our old selves.

If they are still part of us now.  Then there is new life to talk about.

But let us suppose that during the Season of Lent, we had made a good confession, a good reflection and good resolutions of a new self to welcome Easter.

Old selves are our tomb.  Can we step out of our tombs?

Do we need assistance to roll away the stone?

Who will roll away your tomb stone?

It is not always easy to recognize the risen Lord!

We are given the signs but we do not pay much attention to them.  We have the Word and the Eucharist as signs of God’s presence among others.  For example, do we really recognize Jesus in the Eucharist? Or does He vanish when we leave the Church? Or do we continue to live the usual routine of the day as if Jesus is not there?  Do we find time to read the Word, reflect on God’s message, and live it?

People do not need preachers, they need witnesses who can share their faith!

The Lord has a mission for each one of us.  We need time to be quiet and listen to His Word and message.

We are busy with livelihood and a lot of things that use up a lot of our time and energy.  We need to try our best and exert effort to cooperate with God.  Ours is the human effort and God’s is the divine grace.

Easter 2018

In Scripture, we read the text and reflect on our lives as the context.

Let our lives become the text and the Scripture as the context.

Then Easter becomes a reality in our lives!

 

 

Remembering +Fr. Francis Xavier Vu Phan Long, OFM

Remembering

+Fr. Francis Xavier Vu Phan Long, OFM

Fr. F.X. Vhu Phan Long, OFM

Fr. F.X. Vhu Phan Long, OFM

We sadly convey to you that our friend +Fr. F.X. Vu Phan Long, OFM (66); born on August 21, 1951 in Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam  has gone back to the Almighty at 22:30 Friday, October 13 of this year 2017 at Hochiminh City after 45 years of his religious profession and 40 years of priesthood.

He had been sick with lung cancer since 2015 or even earlier. But he survived till after the SEA Workshop that he coordinated and prepared in Nha Trang. And he was even present in the first 3 days in spite of his weakening body. We truly appreciate him. We recalled our togetherness in CBF Plenary assemblies, Asian Workshops and our SEA workshops through the years!

+Fr. F.X. Vu Phan Long, OFM was official representative of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Vietnam until he died.

Sr. Emma

Ms. Star

Fr. Doms

 

Fr. F.X. Vu Phan Long, OFM

 

October 14, 2017

Dear Sister Emma,

Dear STAR,

Dear Fr. Doms,

I am very sorrowful to inform you that our dear friend, Fr. Francis Xavier Phan Long, OFM has passed away last night. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated on next Monday morning, at 8:00 in the Franciscan Theologate, Hochiminh City.

Let’s pray for Fr. Phan Long. May our Loving Father welcome him into the Kingdom of Heaven and give him eternal rest in peace.

In The Word,

Hoa Hung SDB

October 15, 2017

Dear Fr. JM. Joa Hung

Greetings in the Word!

I was really saddened about your news on the demise of our dear friend Fr. Francis Xavier Phan Long, OFM. I see again the picture we had with him in Nha Trang. We were all happy seeing each other again with him. It was the last picture then with him. Our last memory of his presence with us. Yes, I pray that the Lord will open the gates of heaven for him that he will finally experience eternal joy and happiness with the Lord. Amen.

Praying for him,

Fr. Doms, SVD

 

Celebrating Ten Years of Service to the Word

We celebrate the tenth year of the existence of this blog site of the CBF-SEA in the service of the Word linking us all here in Southeast Asia and the whole world. We thank and glorify the Almighty for all His blessings unto us through the years. The site was visited for 90,355 as of this writing. We thank all the people involved in the creation of this site. We remember that year 2007 when Sr. Emma celebrated her 70th birthday and this is a gift to her on that very significant occasion.

 

Happy 80th Birthday Sister Emma

Sister Emma Turns 80 Today

CBF-SEA: Welcomes New Coordinating Team!

 

From the 7th CBFSEA Workshop in Nha Trang, Vietnam,

we, your coordinating team, after serving for 21 years,

say goodbye to you.

Not with sadness or regret, but with a grateful heart.

It is the Lord who brought us together in this vast sub region.

We have been working together, in good times and bad times.

inspiring each other in living and spreading the Word of  Life.

Somebody said that our sub region is most active and alive.

I don’t know whether that is true, but I pray, that our sub region

under the banner of Dr. Natividad Pagadut, the new coordinator,

may grow and with great zeal proclaim the Good News

to our people in this modern world.

Let us remain united in Him, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yours in the Word

Star, Doms, Emma

 

Happy Easter!

Jesus is risen!

He is our Lord.

He is our Life.

He is our Hope.

He is our Light.

He is our Comfort.

He is our Strength.

He is our All.

He is the Word we proclaim.

 

Dear Friends in the Word,

Wishing you a glorious Easter.

May the risen Lord bestow his blessings on us,

on our loved ones and our ministry.

For the CBFSEA Easter wishes, see our website

www.cbfsea.wordpress.com

 

Yours in the Lord,

Sr. Emmanuel Gunanto, osu

 

 

 

Care for Peace!

Care for Peace!

He-is-Risen-pic-03Jesus our Lord is risen! Let us rejoice and be glad!

His first greeting to the disciples was a greeting of peace:

“Peace be with you.

As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

He sends us to proclaim peace in this war torn world.

How do we do that? Let us listen to Pope Francis.

In his homily on February 16, 2017, he said:

“May God give us grace to proclaim an end to wars in the world.

We must cultivate peace daily, with our own hands, so that it spreads to the rest of our suffering world.

War begins here, in the heart, inside the person, and finishes out there.

The news we see in the papers or on television …

Today so many people die, and that seed of war, which breeds envy, jealousy and greed in my heart, is the same – grown up, become a tree – as the bomb which falls on a hospital, on a school, and kills children.

It is the same. The declaration of war begins in here, in each of us.

For this reason, the question arises:

‘How do I care for peace in my heart, in my interior, and in my family?’

The answer is: Care for peace. Not only care for it, but make it with your hands every day.

Just so, will we succeed in spreading it throughout the whole world.”

May the Risen Lord, our life and our hope empower us to make peace with our hands every day, and together build a peaceful world.

Your coordinating team:

Sr. Emmanuel Gunanto

Ms. Estrella del Mar

Fr. Dominador Ramos

images

The Empty Tomb!

THE EMPTY TOMB

John 20:1-9


 “On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb.  So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them.  “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”  So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.  When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.  Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believedFor they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead.”

Do we need to see to believe?  How come we do not yet understand?  How deep is our faith to believe and not see? To believe in the unknown?  To believe in God’s Word?

I did this exercise …

I tried to empty myself from everything:  achievements, success, prestige, honor, pride, position, power, and all material things painstakingly accumulated through the years.  And yes, even my dearly beloved ones: family and friends.  What are left? The life that God gifted me and the love He gave me and what I received and shared with others. And most of all my Faith in God.  I have always believed in a God of love, mercy and compassion.   I believe in a God who does not count my wrongs but is happy with all that I do right.  I believe in a God who is ever patient to wait for my growth.  Once upon a time, Jesus told me “you are still young; when you grow up, you will understand.”  I have grown in age and understood many things.  And yet, there is still so much to understand. Please Lord, help me to grow in faith and understand more.

I know that on the last day of my life on earth, I have to leave everything earthly behind.  I can only hold on to my spirit and all the spiritual treasures I received from God and the people who made my life meaningful with a purpose.

And when that time comes, don’t look for me in my tomb.  It will be an empty tomb.  As Jesus has risen, so I will rise with Him.  Alleluia!!  Thank you Lord for saving me!  Thank you for saving us all!  Thank you for your love, mercy and compassion!

For now, I am very much alive and happy with life!  In spite of my asthma attacks, broken spine, muscular spasms, bleeding ulcers, heartburns and refluxes, I have survived with the help of my patient Doctors and friends.  I have befriended my pains.  I continue my work joyfully and do them as if nothing happened.  But I have to accept my limitations now.  My body is ageing and my ailments are reminding me of that.  There is still so much to be done.  I have hope and trust that the good Lord will allow me to continue my work.

Easter is victory over death!  Easter is new life!  Easter is hope!  Easter is joy!

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!!

By:  Estrella (Star) Cui del Mar

April 15, 2017