Monday, 12 June 2017

Allocutio - "The World is Going Crazy"

“The world is going crazy.” Have you heard or read this line anywhere lately? Strangely, I have received more than one text messages in the last week or so with this sentence included in it. And it was usually followed by an invitation to pray for our crazy-ing world.

But what is making people perceive this way of our world? Could it be that they have noticed a forefront-ing of evil? That evil is prevalent-ing more so now than before? Maybe, they see a society that seemED able to tell good from bad, now seemingly confused about what to paint as white and black. And they sometimes rebel to paint black as white and vice versa. Leaving some others baffled-ing and unrested-ing because this other group of people has faithfully upheld the distinction between black and white.

Perhaps, good and evil have truly become subjective; it all depends on how one defines them for his own life. Pretty much without the need to follow any manmade or God-made rules, like how I am choosing now not to follow some English tenses in my writing because I feel like creative-ing.

Yet, I suspect that you can still understand the message I am trying to convey despite my deliberate misuse of tenses. And if so, would you also be able to understand what our crazy world is trying to convey despite the deliberate misuse of life? Because no matter how she may mutilate life, the one underlying and overarching message is – I am hurting inside; I need love and attention. The deeper the brokenness, the louder the cry for love, the greater the mutilation. And then, the greater the mutilation, the stronger the reaction and rejection from the other side, the deeper the brokenness, the louder the cry for love. Until someone like Pope Francis – thank God for him! – responses in a refreshing manner to reveal to our agitated world God’s compassionate and merciful face. And then, there comes peace, harmony, justice, reconciliation, forgiveness, conversion.

Just as the mutilation of life becomes more explicit and evil is made more visible, what is also becoming more obviously defined is the reality that our physical world has failed miserably to satisfy our true selves. Our restlessness never seems to end. And which leads us to the question, “So… what’s more?” It either directs us to achieve and accumulate more worldly things or it awakens our consciousness to the divine treasures our eyes have yet to be set upon.

Whether she cares to admit it or not, our world needs God. Our world needs the infinite love of God that judges and discriminates not but is always ready to welcome and embrace. The love of God that heals and liberates us from the effects of our wounds. And if there is anyone in the world to facilitate this encounter of God’s love, it is us – Christians. We are the ones who can help rekindle daily in our world the hope that is so easily lost, to spread the love that is so scarce today. We who must not keep Jesus hidden from the world any longer. The true face of Christ that we must first see and experience for ourselves before we can show to others.

It takes effort and time to make space in our lives to encounter this face of Christ ourselves. We need also to be guided by someone who is walking the way ahead of us. Because the image that we have of God more often than not needs alteration and refinement. For our ignorance and a thwarted understanding of God can be a counter-witness and its effects are damaging.

An essential component and also our responsibility in our apostolate work is our nurturing of our Catholic faith and the deepening of our personal relationship with God. Only when we are tuned in to God and are in touch with ourselves can we give Jesus to this hungry, mutilated, confused and aching world. And then, there will be peace, harmony, justice, reconciliation, forgiveness, conversion.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Allocutio - The Art of Hanging


The past week has seen several prayer intentions circulating in the group. Loved ones passing away, people suffering losses. Not to mention our own challenges each day. We remember with deep sadness too the many victims of the recent attacks around the world. In all these, we might have found ourselves in moments of helplessness, stranded between hopefulness and hopelessness, consolation and dejection. And one might be tempted to ask a very reasonable question, “Where is God?”

While it is important to review the week’s incidents and experiences, to find God in them, today, I would like to suggest a turn of this question. In all these challenges, sufferings, pain, loss, where were you? In the sufferings and helplessness of your life, where were you?

I must admit that in my tough situations, I am usually on the run. It has become such a natural tendency that I subconsciously swing towards. Running away from all my difficult emotions, running away from the reality of what’s happening. I am everywhere else except at my heart, where my emotions reside and try hard to call out for my attention. As far as I can, for as long as possible. I distract myself with anything that will direct my attention away from the awful helplessness and heaviness within. Computer games are good distractors!

Unfortunately, avoiding the difficulties and unpleasant emotions do not make the issue at hand disappear. For over time, anger, frustration, resentment, etc accumulate and my peace diminishes by the minute. It is like plague building up in the arteries and we are almost certain that what follows will be a cardiac arrest. Sooner or later.

The good news is that there is a better way of be-ing. A be-ing that imitates Jesus and Mary. By His divine power, Jesus was not helpless in His passion and death. But He chose to be that way, like a lamb led to the slaughter. Experiencing excruciating pain – physical, emotional and even spiritual when He felt His Father abandoning Him. All Jesus did was to hang there on the cross to bring His Father’s will to total completion.

This image of hanging. It does not require us to be physically hanging on the cross. Rather, it suggests a certain resignation to the cross, no resistance but only an abandonment of oneself into the arms of the one who is truly in control. A hanging that seems like one is doing nothing but one is in fact totally present to every bit of the experience. Mary, as she followed her Son along the way and finally, witnessing the brutal death of her beloved Child on the cross, had her own heart pierced through. She stood there. She remained. Feeling very blow of His, every wound of His. She was completely present to her emotions. She was hanging with Jesus on the cross.

In our apostolate work, we face situations in which there seems to be nothing much we can do at all except to pray. Yet, there may be something more. To be with the helpless one suffering – whether it is another person or ourselves – to hang with this person and with Jesus on the cross. In total solidarity and connection. Because it is this connection that carves out the channel for love to flow. The love of Christ that renews and restores the face of the earth.

In difficult situations, where would you choose to be?