Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Finding God in the Waiting (*taps fingers*)

Looking at the jelly hearts cheesecake in the refrigerator, I cannot help but feel like a little kid who cannot wait to cut it up and chomp it down. Staring at it with eyes glowing with great delight. The anticipation is almost killing me. The wait seems too long and painful. I wish I could eat it right now! Still, I have to wait because the cheesecake needed to set before the jelly is poured over, and then to wait some more because now, the jelly needs time to set. I don't want to eat liquid jelly hearts cheesecake...! 

Quite coincidentally (or not), today's Gospel reflection pointed me towards this whole idea of 'waiting'. A waiting that is not a period of sitting by and letting time pass aimlessly and meaninglessly. Rather, it is a waiting that encompasses an evolution of some sort. A wait that hangs a "Work in Progress" sign on its door. 

Luke 2:41-52
Jesus was 'lost' and then 'found' in the temple when he was twelve. (v.51-52) He went down with them (His parents) and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and with people.

In the next chapter of Luke's Gospel, we see John baptising in the river Jordan, preparing the way for the Messiah's coming. And then Jesus reappears again, at about thirty years of age, for baptism and the beginning of His ministerial work. What was going on in between, for almost 18 years? A tremendous wait. What was Jesus doing in those years? What could be happening within Him for Him to have increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and with people?

There seems to be many accounts of  'waiting' throughout the Bible. Zechariah's speech was taken away for months until the birth of his son, John the Baptist, when he regained his speech, was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to prophesy (Luke 1:67-79). A striking shift from his lack of faith in the message of the angel foretelling of his wife's pregnancy. What happened in those months that could have possibly brought about this shift?

Then, there is the beautiful waiting between Jesus's death and resurrection. The plunging of the spirits and moods, hopes and faith of the apostles as they waited without the knowledge of the impending resurrection. The plunge that was a necessary emptying out so as to make room to welcome the ecstatic joy and consolation of the Master's resurrection. The most dreadful wait, the feeling of losing one's bearings, being in a complete loss. Yet, masked within the desolation was the presence of an ongoing evolution.

On top of the many 'waits' my life consists of, isn't my life itself a whole lifetime of waiting? A waiting for the final arrival of my reunion with my Father? A wait that does not see me sitting on a bench and awaiting that final moment but on the contrary, a wait which encompasses an evolution of ME, a metamorphosis into the image and likeness of my Creator? Eager I may be, to allow God the time and freedom to shape me?

What then, do I do in this wait? Perhaps, I need to pay attention, to listen attentively, and to respond actively. And blanketing these with a patience that allows the moment of readiness, the end of my wait to arrive in its due course. Could this be what Jesus and Zechariah did in their waiting? To pay attention to the Spirit's promptings, to listen attentively to the soft voice of God's teaching and direction, and to respond actively in doing all they could to cooperate with God's working in them? There seems to be far more within a draggy wait that I have previously been aware of. 

What is waiting like for you?

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Humanising the Divine Love

We often find that the human love of the lover runs in proportion with the goodness of the one being loved. For instance, I may start out loving someone so intensely and wholeheartedly. So it seems. But being human, I am surely to be hurt at some time and to some extent by this someone and with each time I am hurt, I pull back my love little by little. I ration my love increasingly. I rationalise how much of me I can entrust to this person according to his capabilities of taking care of my vulnerability. It might even reach a point where that love diminishes completely and turns into hate. 

Our perception of love is very much, more often than not, influenced by such encounters with a love that consistently undergoes renegotiations. A love that requires us to keep investing our time and caution to upkeep. A love that needs to be earned by an exchange of my good deeds and my own initiatives which prove me to be worthy of this love. A love that seems to be inconsistent and thus, provides me with more insecurity than security. A love that can be lost at any time when I am proven unworthy. 

And with this knowledge of what love is, isn't it true that we often find it beyond us to understand the love of God for us? Definitely, we can never fully comprehend God's infinite love for us. But to trust in God's love for us, to accept this love, to know this love, to live in this love, to rest in this love, to rely on this love... all seem too far-fetched for anyone who has no experiences with and who has little concept of a love that is given freely without conditions, a love that remains consistent across time, space and circumstances. 

Is the love that God has for us proportionate to our sinfulness? In theory, by faith, we know the obvious answer to this question but in the reality of our lives, in the way we actually live out our faith, can we find traces of an underlying distortion of the love we think God must have for us? When we realise how we have sinned, how tough it is to even want to ask God for forgiveness because to us, at least to me, I find myself so undeserving, so unfit even to be in the sacred presence of God. 

If God's love is proportionate to the sinfulness of mankind, then history would be markedly different from what it is today. Jesus would not have emptied Himself of His glory and power to take on human flesh. The Father would not have parted with His Son and witness Him hang lifeless on the cross. Is there anyone on earth who deserves His love? Is there anyone of us whose life can justify His coming? Is there anyone who is so pure and spotless as to be fitting to come in direct contact with the body and blood of the pure and spotless Christ on our tongues at Communion? No, there isn't. 

Yet, God came to us on His own accord, by His own initiative, before the majority of mankind was even born. The love that He has already fixed, nailed onto the cross. This love needs no renegotiation, needs no renewal. It does not require us to do anything to earn it and neither is it something that can be earned. It is not a commodity put on sale on the shelves, tagged with a price. This love remains a constant while the state of our lives go on fluctuating. From the beginning all through eternity, it will not move one inch. Regardless of my unworthiness, regardless of my distance from Him, whenever I turn to this love, I will always find it there in its totality, in its fullness, not an ounce short. This love that never changes, that has already been given freely without any of my doing... this is the love that I can, at every moment, rest secure in. This love that surrounds and protects me, that provides for me everything that is good, that promises good and hope amidst pain and sufferings. This love that calms the storminess of my heart when trouble stirs with the assurance that all is well and under control in the loving hands of my God. 

What is your image of God's love?
In what ways have you humanised God's divine love? 

Monday, 15 October 2012

Touching God's Divinity

I touch the divine love of God as I reminisce the journey of my life.
I touch the divine compassion of God as I recount His kindness towards the undeserving me.
I touch the divine mercy of God as I recall the moments He crossed the distance of infinity to reach me in my humanity to bring me home.

I touch the divinity of God. as I behold before my very eyes the unfathomable mystery of my life.
Before the God whose hands crafted the miracle of my life,
I am left dumbfounded, awestruck, helplessly humbled;
Before this God I am just beginning to know. 

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

I Love ... (?) ... You

Can you imagine what our world will be like if everyone did anything and everything he/she pleases? Perhaps, to some extent, this is already a widespread way of living in our world today. And what do we have? Pain, more pain, increasing pain... So much brokenness. Rampant brokenness. Brokenness played down by a so-called 'resilience' which, unmasked, reveals fear and helplessness. A mess that we can only stare at helplessly. Speechless.

People do anything and everything they please because they have no regard for anyone else and it isn't hard to understand why. Why should I care for anyone when I myself am suffering, when I am being ill-treated, when I am not cared for? Why should I bother how people feel? Why should I help another at my own expense, and inconvenience myself? To each his own...! I fend for myself. If I don't, who will? 

But who is bullying us, who is removing the care for one another, who is causing our sufferings? Isn't the biggest culprit the absence of true love? True love, distorted, repackaged and sold cheaply in the marketplace to reach the masses? 

How often do we mean 'I love me first, then you' when we say 'I love ... ... you'? Perhaps, we aren't even aware of the strength of the 'I' in ourselves. Perhaps, we know... but not the full extent of it. Perhaps, we  really do know and are already working to minimise this 'I'. And why do I keep going on about this 'I'? Because true love has no 'I'... only 'other'. 

Those who have stuck on in their marriage, in their priestly and religious vocations... not just for the sake of keeping everything status quo, in name, but truly to live out these vocations... these are the ones who are daily fighting against all odds to deny this 'I', renouncing self, taking up the cross and following the One who emptied Himself completely for others, for us. And what happened to this Person? He died on the cross. True love comes with a price... the purer and deeper the love, the bigger the price... but it doesn't end here in such a morbid state. The bigger the price paid, the more glorious the resurrection. True love nourishes our souls, giving us a happiness that is real and lasting. And are we not, in all our searching and seeking, in all our trials and errors of what to do with our lives, looking for happiness of some sort? True love isn't without pain... but it is a different kind of pain; a pain that builds us up rather than destroy, a pain that affirms us that we have fought the good fight and have returned victorious. 

But if we are so unloved and going through so much sufferings because of all the hurts people inflict on us, how can we love anyone? We're so broken ourselves. To be loved, to be embraced, to be healed, assured and affirmed, to be restored to wholeness... We need to go to the Fountain of everlasting love, the Source of love - God. To be filled with the most secure love, to be renewed, refreshed, to be brought to restful waters and have our drooping spirits uplifted and revived. 

To know in theory makes no difference to anyone's life until we actively seek this Living Water... 

What kind of love do you want to settle for?