Happy Easter!

 

In summary the priest had an ingenious definition for what we should be focusing on Easter – The Spirituality of The Cross, in essence, a ‘+’ positive sign.

Yes, we should always hold on to the hope that after all the sufferings, goodness will present itself. For every hardship we go through, there is a lesson to be learned. Eventually, we grow stronger – been there, and done that, I can do it again.

It was such a fulfilling Easter Vigil last evening – spiritual wise.

I hope you’re having a good Easter celebration wherever you are!

I am not going to leave you Easter eggs or bunnies but my new found interest – goldfishes!

These goldfishes help me relax and calm down after a long day at work. Spiritually, they are a symbol that reminds me of “Feeding the Multitude” miracle. What that means to me is that there is always an opportunity for us to be a blessing to someone else…

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It Is Finished

In a blink of an eye, almost 40 days has passed and we will commemorate once again, the crucifixion of Christ. But wait, all I see around me are Easter eggs and bunnies – real or otherwise. I believe it is human nature to gravitate towards the celebratory side of things rather than the mournful side of things. As such, we soon lose sight and focus of the reason we celebrate.

Yes, Easter is meant to be a celebration and to most, it is given more emphasis and importance compared to Christmas. But why?

The celebration of Easter always reminds me of the hardships and toils before the celebration of success in life. Just as every good thing that comes to an end so does suffering.

The story of creation is one of hard work when God used 6 days to create the world and on the 7th day, He took a step back and admired His own creation. There is no beauty and success without first work put into it. This story also reminds us to take time off to appreciate the fruits of our labor.

I am sure all of us have our own tasks and purposes even for a day. We tend to compartmentalize our hours, days, weeks, months, and years into smaller chunks. We learned that in order to complete a project, we should divide it into multiple smaller tasks. Likewise, Jesus have a grand project which is to sacrifice Himself so that we will come to learn of His great love and emulate that in treating our neighbors. If we look closely, Jesus did divide his “project” into smaller tasks whether throughout the 40 days or throughout His life. When His grand “project” was done, Jesus sighed in relief, “It is finished…”.

How often we find ourselves completing a particular task and the feeling of satisfaction kept us hopeful and alive? I am sure you have had such experiences before.

For me personally, I feed on the many “it is finished” moments and they have kept me motivated most of the time.

I think it is important for me to take a step back to review all the great things that I have accomplished and completed throughout the past 40 days and be reminded that these are the reasons I am celebrating Easter.

Most importantly, the question that I will be asking myself this Easter is “Have I Loved My Neighbor As Myself?”

Is It Finished?

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Even Judas Had A Purpose

A few years ago, seeking life’s purpose seemed to be the common theme among many self-help books. Soon, Christian preachers caught on to this theme and started leading their followers in this theme as well.

Today is palm Sunday. To put it nicely, this commemorates Jesus entering Jerusalem in preparation for the ultimate act of love and sacrifice which resulted in the gift of salvation for His followers. But to put it bluntly and in a negative tone, it begins the journey of Jesus going through abandonment, betrayal, and finally slaughter.

Every year, we go through the entire list of events in chronological order to remind us how this gift of salvation came about. The Passion of Christ plays over and over again to remind us of what we are – poor sinners and murderes. We accuse ourselves of being in cohort with the people who wanted Jesus dead. We actually murdered Jesus to gain salvation for ourselves seemed to be the only sense I can make of it. Relational speaking, my mind cannot quite comprehend the entire episode.

Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss.

Peter denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed.

But it does beg the question – Who made Judas and Peter?

Whatever it is, Judas and Peter were made for their unique purposes. One to betray and the other to deny before establishing and leading the church.

In these contexts, I can only summarize that God made Judas so that we can all kill Jesus to obtain the gift of salvation for ourselves and pave the way for the church led by Peter. In other words, based on the current narrative, Judas and us were created to take the fall.

Looking at the bigger picture, we are not more of a murderer than our creator. How can we be accuse of being murderers when we are given the knife and asked to kill because that is the only way we can obtain the gift of salvation? Without the killing, there will not be any “sacrifice”.

I am starting to think that our purpose is to break free from this accusation. If Jesus truly promotes altruism and unconditional love, he should not be accusing and reminding us every year how we murdered him. I do not think it is his intention to make us feel guilty by inheriting the sins of the people of his time.

Soon, it will be Easter, and I do hope that the narrative will be re-written. Not one of the images of eggs and cute rabbits hopping around while everyone have a jolly good time but one that shows Jesus sacrificing himself through a different sort of death.

If I am allowed to be creative, I would like to see an image of Jesus laying hands on the sick and absorbing all the sickness, weaknesses, guilt, anxieties, diseases, and all negativity of the people around him unto himself. That way, it truly portrays that he sacrificed his life for us. It is not the “we murdered him” kind of sacrifice but one that is truly altruistic and sacrificial.

But then again, who am I to re-write the history?

When even Judas Iscariot had a role and purpose to play in the grander scheme of things and without him, will this post even come to be?

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Just An Hour

He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, ‘So you had not the strength to stay awake with me for one hour?’ ~ Matthew 26:40

As of late, this particular verse in the bible have a new meaning to me. Apparently, every five years, priests are being shuffled and transferred and our parish was also affected by the transfer exercise. As parishioners we are urged not to judge and compare the abilities of our newly assigned priest with the previous one. My casual conversations with my other friends of the same faith convinced me that most are under the impression of “blind acceptance and obedience”. The reason being that we should not complain about those working for God and accept them as the shepherd leading us, his flock. Furthermore, we are having a shortage of priests and each one is precious. But I have to point out that being precious and rare is one thing but the ability his flock can relate to him is another.

I must first emphasize that this is truly an issue I have and no fault of others. A few months have passed now and I found myself in “spiritual limbo” – a physical body dragging around a depleted soul. It is not that I am unwilling to stay awake for the one hour mass but, I find myself totally disconnected. Skipping a regular Sunday service begin to be easier because the time can be better spent elsewhere.

Recognizing the fact that the one hour Sunday service is something I need to nourish myself spiritually, I started wondering what could be the problem.

I can only conclude and point out the importance of a charismatic leader and preacher. I for one, enjoy a thought provoking sermon and when I am able to relate life’s experiences to the scripture readings of the day, it can be inspiring. A good sermon does just that – relating the meaning behind the scripture and life as a believer today. It makes the faith current and relevant.

I am not saying that priests without good preaching ability should stop doing what they do but instead, due to the different needs every unique individual requires to nourish oneself spiritually, it really is NOT “one size fits all”. Therefore, it is irrelevant to force someone to stay in a parish that does not help in his/her spiritual growth. In one particular conversation I had regarding why I prefer to attend masses presided by certain priests, I was accused of being a “follower” of the preferred priests instead of a “follower” of God. I find this quite disturbing when the fact is that I can relate to what these priests preach better than others – that draws me closer to God.

As such, I believe that parishioners should not be made to feel obligated in anyway to be bound to any parish but instead free to find whichever parish their souls feel at home. After all, we would like to encourage a sense of belonging, no? What more for one who seeks belonging spiritually?

Attending Sunday service should not make one feel like it is a chore but instead it should make one feel compel to attend because of how nourishing and enriching it is to the person. For most, that one hour is very important to get recharged before facing the coming week’s of challenges. If nourishing and enriching an entire parish is the good intention of a priest, making that one hour count can really go a long way.

Thus, the question now becomes, “What Am I Staying Awake For?

Lost In Examination

Another year past and another batch of students received their results for the major examination to graduate from high school. The results will afford them entry into tertiary education.

But the reaction begs the question – are we all that generic? Like in a factory with all the conveyor belts moving along pieces of dough to be pressed and molded into perfect and identical shapes.

Is there ever an education system that fits all?

If it is, I am not the perfect product of such a system.

But you see, in the minds of most Asian parents, good results equates to bragging rights. Another reason to feel good about oneself living through one’s child’s success. It is often the case of the parent pressuring his or her child to live out the many aspirations and ideals one failed to achieve in the past.

“I wish my son or my daughter do not have to follow my footstep and it will be good for him or her to be a doctor, a lawyer, or so on and so forth”

As of late, so much emphasis has been given to honoring children scoring well for all these generic examinations that it has become some sort of competition among the students especially for their parents.

I believe the world has lost its definition of what examination means.

Examinations should never be used to define anyone as a success or failure in life. Examinations are for us to gauge what needs to be improved in subjects of “one’s interest”. What that means is that, if one is studying the subject of biology, and in gauging how much one understood what has been taught, an examination is needed just for that reason.

But if biology is not an interest of a person, it does not hold much value for the person in question. Just because education system is one system for all, it is by no means one system that fits all. The subjects are generic and it may not appeal to everyone across the board. Often times, these major examinations are merely means to an end – the progression of one’s educational path.

What matters most is scoring good grades when and where it really matters. We all ought to get an ‘A’ in Life…

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