A True Israelite
An Israelite was asked, “Why do you send your children to school?”
He answered, “So that they will learn how to read, if they already know how to read, they will be able to read the Bible, then if he/she/they read about the Bible, they learn about God, if they learn about God, they tend to love God, and if they love God, they are able to serve God.
He was again asked, “Why do you feed your children?”
He answered, “So that they will become strong and healthy, if they are strong and healthy, they can read the Bible, and then learn about God, then love God, then serve God.
He was then asked, “Why do you have a roof on top of your house?”
He answered, “So that something will shelter/cover my family from all outside forces that might harm them, and if they are protected, they could read the Bible, then learn about God, then love God, then serve God.
Everything he did was for God.
Everything we do is for God.
I was fifteen when I encountered this one-of-a-kind teacher who taught me lessons that would last throughout the years. It’s been nine years since Fr. John Chambers SJ told his Values class about the story of a True Israelite. In his short simple story, he wanted to teach us that the ultimate reason to everything we do in this world is “For God.” Every day is an opportunity to show Him how much we love Him. Everything we do should be done for God. Indeed, He is the reason for living. Even though we get caught up with the things of this world, I hope we won’t lose sight of the reason we do the things we do: FOR GOD.
In last week’s mass, the priest asked the mass goers what they do when they feel empty, lost, and abandoned. He then suggested that we GO TO OUR OLD FAMILIAR PLACE. Go to your old familiar place where you feel one with God.
Churches have always been a sanctuary to me. There was always a sense of security when I am inside a church, no matter where it may be. My old familiar place was our Parish Cathedral in my hometown. This was the place where I made friends with people outside of school. This was the place where I served as a choir member, psalmist, lector, and mass commentator since I was 10. I practically grew up here. Writing this post made me realize that my typical weekend hang-out back then was this Church.
However, everything changed when I stepped into University. I moved to a different city. I didn’t serve in the local Parish, didn’t join the University choir, and stopped regularly going to mass. I became a nominal Catholic. First, I felt betrayed by my religious community because of issues that emerged in my old parish. Then, I refused to attend mass because I felt like I didn’t deserve salvation. One reason (excuse) piled up another. Though, there were multiple attempts to go back on track, I kept falling off the wagon. I just felt lost in the end. I really felt spiritually empty throughout those years. Though I excelled in other aspects of my life, my spiritual growth was certainly stuck in the dark.
2013 was dubbed as the year of faith and it was truly a year of faith for me. I have slowly regained composure of my spiritual growth through a retreat, regular spiritual direction, and weekly attendance to mass. I’m trying my best to read a chapter of the Bible every day; pray the Trisagio; and start and end the day by thanking the Lord for giving me today.
Today, I know that God never left my side. He was always there. I was the one who left and abandoned Him. I was the one with excuses and I was the one who stopped loving Him. I kept denying Him the opportunity to show His grace so that I can sin sans guilt.
On New Year’s Eve, as I welcomed 2014, I went home and served as a lector in the mass. It has been six years. Going back to my old familiar place was so surreal that I kept crying. I never thought it was possible, but with God anything is possible. Redemption is possible. It really is never too late to change for the better. At any given moment, you can choose to make things better.
When you feel abandoned, go back to your old familiar meeting place with God so that you will find the courage to move forward. Salvation does not come at the end of your days. Salvation is a daily process. You don’t have to know all the answers. You just have to actively choose to be better, to love Him more, every day.
Sometimes you forget that you’re beautiful that’s why you keep on feeling insecure about yourself.
Sometimes you forget that you are loved that’s why you search for affirmation from others.
Sometimes you forget that you’re fortunate enough to go to school that’s why you don’t take your classes seriously.
Sometimes you forget that you are lucky to have both of your parents alive that’s why you push them away.
Sometimes you forget that you’re not stupid that’s why you do stupid things.
You’re not what others say you are. You are who you allow yourself to be. Actions define who you are.
Just because you are lonely, neglected, and rejected does not mean you can’t grow and move forward.
Just because you are insecure does not mean you can’t be confident.
Just because you failed a million times does not mean you can’t succeed.
Just because you messed up, does not mean you can’t make up for it.
Just because you are empty does not mean you have nothing to give.
God is love and love is everlasting.
If you don’t feel loved, pray for the grace to always remember
how much you are loved by someone who died for you and saved you from your sins.
Know that you are loved, always and forever.
Stop complaining about your inadequacies and do something.
If you don’t have time, make time. Choose to count your blessings.
Choose to remember how beautiful, fortunate and lucky you are in a billion aspects of your life.
Choose love every day.
Choose Love, for God is Love.