Monday, 30 June 2014

Between Taking Charge & Letting Go

What I can remember of Fr Jojo Magadia SJ's homily this afternoon:

We are called to Christian leadership and yet, we face the tension between taking charge and letting go. Jesus in today's Gospel teaches us to let go when He said, "... foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head (not eggs)."

We can make plans and decisions for the future but along the way, it is God who will move us. 

Letting go frees up space in our hearts for faith. 

How often do I insist on my way, forcing my plans through, even when doors still remain shut. 

How often do I resist surrendering to the will of God because I see a "greater" and even a more "noble", "holier" result in following my will instead.  

How often do I hang on to my will because God's will has too much uncertainties.

And yet, in these times, I am called to an act of faith. 

To let go of my pride and stubbornness, fears and worries, anxieties and apprehensions. To let go of me so that the Spirit of God can come under my opened, surrendered arms and carry me to where His will is. And where His will is is where He Himself is found. Only in giving in to the love of God can I open my arms and allow Him to take me. And then... and only then... I shall live and remain in Him.

"Only in love can I find you, my God. 
In love, the gates of my soul spring open, allowing me to breathe a new breath of freedom..."
~ Karl Rahner, SJ

Friday, 20 June 2014

Finding the Big Rock on Lantau

A Eurasian guy came up to me at the Path of Wisdom on Lantau island, Hong Kong, asking, "Do you know how I may get to the big rock? I remember coming by this way the last time I came and stood on the rock which overlooks the big Buddha. But I can't seem to find that path anymore."

Seriously, I had no idea where this big huge rock was. I didn't even know if it existed. So after looking through the map, I had to disappoint him with my 'no'. He went away after trying again in vain to recall the path that led to his rock. After all, it was 8 years ago that he was there. Maybe the rock was moved by the local authorities because it became unsafe to stand on?

From where I was, the path leading up the hill looked deserted and though I was very curious, wisdom told me not to go up alone though the herd of cows had already made their descent. I did tell the guy maybe he should go to the other side of the mountain and maybe it's there, since the other side leads to Lantau peak, from which, I thought, he would more logically be able to see the Buddha statue. But I guess he didn't because he was certain it wasn't on that side.

After some time, I made my way across a link, onto the other mountain across. Looking back from the opposite side of the Path of Wisdom, I actually saw that huge rock that man was asking me about. It was right on top of the hill and I could roughly make out the path leading to it too. I was filled with excitement and wanted to go tell the guy but I could not find him anywhere. If he had stayed on to search, if he had taken my suggestion to go to the other side of the mountain, he would have found it one way or another. He must have gone away really disappointed. 

All of which made me reflect on "SEARCHING". 

When we lose something, when we want to find something we long for, to what lengths do we go to search for it? Especially in the journey of faith. 

We search, we cannot find, we are disappointed, we feel discouraged. There's still hope.
We search again, we still cannot find, we are more disappointed and more discouraged. Hope is dwindling. 
We make one last search, God is still beyond reach. Throw in the towel. Enough. God's love is only given to some, and I'm not one of them.

If we continue searching, try a different path, go on trekking to another side, would we not find what is guaranteed to be there? Tracing through the paths of our memory for clues and signposts. Would we not find Jesus? Would He not find us?

Sometimes, we found Him but for some reason, some fault of ours, we lost Him again... and again. We got lost. We got distracted and lost him. We didn't know how to stay with Him and wandered off. And more often than not, by the time we realise we have gone off far on our own, we find ourselves helpless, hopeless, without a compass and a map. The task of finding our way back is daunting. Where do I put my foot next? In which direction? Where is north?

The good thing about many national parks is that there are park rangers, maps, signposts. I could gather wood, create a smoke signal, do something that helps others find me. 

Sometimes when I get lost, feel so far away from God and cannot find my way back to Him, I call out to my Father and tell Him that I really don't know the way home, asking if He would come get me. And He always does. He will somehow open my heart to accept and receive His embrace, His forgiveness and affirmation of His unconditional love. And in that breaking moment, I know I am home again, like the prodigal son in the Gospel parable. 

I go to my spiritual director and chat with mentors and spiritual companions. I stumble and fumble and stumble some more in prayer, trying to pray "right". I read books that point the way to God. I go for a jog and breathe in the love of God in nature, which energises me for the next few pages of life. 

And yet, even with these, many times, I still cannot find God. Not because He cannot be found but that I did not want to be found, though on the surface, I am doing the seemingly necessary things to find God again. Maybe because there are unpleasant feelings I don't want to feel, the ugliness of my own self that I would rather not confront, the messiness of my life that I just don't feel like looking at.  

But then, when I run, I can never be found. I can never live in the loving embrace of God. If I allow God to find me, if I go out in search of Him, I will certainly find Him waiting there. I will certainly find Him with arms wide open, to welcome, love, heal, forgive and shower blessings. He will overturn my life not to leave me in shambles but so that He can reorder and rearrange it beautifully. 

What joy that tourist would have experienced if he had finally stood there on that rock, looking down at the valleys, across at the mountains, and upon the magnificent statue of the Buddha. 

Jesus is that Treasure, which, when found, will lead us to sell away all our possessions to buy it. 

Question is... 
How serious are we in our search?
Do we really want God to find us?
To what lengths are you willing to go to have this Treasure?

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Stepping Into The Barrel


A tightrope walker was about to cross between 2 skyscrapers on a tightrope and all the onlookers were aroused with excitement and anticipation. He took his first step and some time later, confidently arrived at the end of the rope. Everyone cheered with a sense of relief and amazement. Then, he announced that he was going to attempt something even more difficult. He was going to walk on a beer barrel on the tightrope. This got the audiences even more excited than before. 

Before attempting this dangerous fit, he asked a lady in the crowd, "Do you believe that I can make it across on the barrel?" And the lady replied instantly, "Yes, definitely, I do! I've watched you and believe you can do it!" The man said, "Since you believe in me, would you step into the barrel and let me walk you across?" The excitement on the lady's face dropped immediately. 

To believe IN someone is to bet our lives on that person. It entails our personal involvement in what or who we say we believe in. 

If this tightrope walker is not just any human person but is Jesus Himself, will this be sufficient for me to get into the barrel? Will this be sufficient for you to get into the barrel? Will you entrust your life that completely? It is one thing to believe in the existence of God and another to believe IN God. Just as this lady in the story above believes in the skill of the tightrope walker (no personal involvement) but is unable to bet her life on him (now her life depended on him). 

When I say that I believe in Jesus, when I say that I believe in God, when you proclaim too that you do each time you say the Creed, each time we make the sign of the cross, ... let us make a more deliberate effort to be conscious of how completely or not we are letting go of our fears and need for certainty to bet our lives on God. And if we realise that a part of us still holds back, still prevents us from getting into that barrel, or that we might enter the barrel but drill a hole to peek out for any signs of danger, could it be that we have not encountered Jesus sufficiently to be assured of his trustworthiness, of his love that wills not for our disaster but our flourishing? 

Then, what avenues can we take to encounter Jesus more deeply? To grow in our intimate knowledge of who He really is?