Reflection from Lk 6:12-19

Some say that what happens in the end was intended all along; others, that each of us has the ability to make changes and so there are many possible endings. The Church says that both exist, predetermination and freewill, but that even though we may exercise our freewill to change what was predetermined…that, too, is predetermined.

I used to believe is that everything happens at random. We are leaves blown in the wind, merely deluding ourselves that we have the power to set our own direction. It is the events that shape us and not we to them. We cannot change the past, but we can do something about the future. And “the future, says Blessed Pope John Paul II, “is today and not tomorrow.”

In the Gospel, Jesus called each disciple by name indicating His intimate relationship to one and to all. Each disciple’s experience with the Lord is deeply personal, and also a shared experience. And in this sharing the disciples came to deepen their experience with God and respond with greater love and trust to His call.

Though our calling is personal, our way of response and how we live our vocation is a shared experience. We are not alone in this pursuit. Indeed no one travels the road of priesthood by himself.

If we trace back our steps, one will soon discover that he is not traveling alone. He will not see only his footprints, but also the footprints of his family, relatives and friends; those who supported him, prayed for him, and believed in him.

Therefore it is stupidity when a seminarian quits stops or walks away and ends his seminary formation because he gets tired with the requirements to fulfill or bored with the routinary activities. No one owns his vocation. Every vocation is meant to be shared.

So, one must refrain from doing things which is contrary to his vocation. If he insists, he is not just corrupting himself but also corrupting those people who believe in him. In the long run, Trust will soon rust, love will soon decay and he becomes filthy and rotten. Then people will depart from his company as if he is a leper.

At first glance, there is nothing exceptional about the 12 disciples. They are just ordinary people, not socially influential. But Jesus recruits them for the mission. He trusts them and risks on them.

Each disciple is distinct and unique. Each of them came from different walks of life and even some in both opposites – Peter was married while John was not, Matthew was a tax collector while Simon was a zealot, and to add the conglomeration of the 12 pioneers, the salt of the earth and the light of the world, Judas Iscariot, who later betrayed Jesus, was one of them.

In the course of their formation, there were times where the disciples argued about who among them will be great in heaven. There were even petty quarrels and some had envied others. So, one could question Jesus why he chose selfish, arrogant, foolish fishermen over a learned Pharisee? Yet, through them, we have received the good news. They became vessels of God’s love and they have set the whole in fire of God’s love.

Like the disciples we are called to the same purpose: our mission is to enkindle the heart of others, to bring Jesus to our friends. The question is: Do the way we live our identity as a seminarian resonates God’s love or in the contrary it corrupts and hinders others to know God and love Him personally? Did we draw our friends intimately closer to Christ or did we draw them intimately closer to ourselves?

Though the disciples had their share of mistakes and shortcomings, nonetheless they became true brothers to one another. They had kept the Master’s commandment, “Love one another as I loved you” in their hearts.

Truly is through our experience of living with one another, of noticing and responding to the needs of one another, of entering into permanent relationship with one another in true brotherhood love, accepting one another as we are yet encouraging one another to fully become what God has given us the power to become.

God transforms the hearts of the apostles. And transformation is not instant; it is a process – a very long process. The choice lies on our very hands.

2000 years have passed; God continues to call men for the mission. Are you in or out?

Reflection on Mt 13: 24-30

Our life resembles of that of a field in the gospel. God had sowed good sees in us, yet an enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went away.

Here lies the difference between God and the enemy. The enemy had left, he did not wait for his seeds to grow, he did not cultivate it, he just merely abandoned it. On the other hand, God didn’t abandoned his seeds, he wait for his seeds to grow and bear fruit, He even spare the weeds, instructing His servant not to pull it off because they may run on the risk of rooting also the good seeds.

The weeds become part of the field. The weeds share the nutrients with the wheat. As the wheat grows, the weed also flourished. Only then in harvest time where the two can be separated – First the weeds, tied in bundles for burning, and the wheat gathered into God’s barn.

The weed resembles the wheat. But weeds can’t bear fruit, simply weeds are weeds.

Sometimes in life, we chose weeds rather than the wheat. We have chosen the superficial from reality. We have chosen vice from virtue. We have chosen the flesh from the spirit.

There were also times when we become weeds to others, our pride, our insensitivity, our disobedience had hindered others to grow good seeds.

Our very hearts are fields where wheat and weeds may grow.God planted good seeds in our hearts but because of stubbornness of heart weeds grow too.

But God is patient, He still believes in our goodness. He believes that the little seed of holiness planted in our hearts will slowly grow and bear fruit. He gives us chances so that the wheat in us will produce abundantly during harvest time.

The seminary maybe likened to a field, and the seminarians to the wheat or weed. To determine if we are wheat or weed lies on our fruits, lies on our actions. It is manifested in our very own lives.

Let us pray for God’s grace and presence so that we will end up as wheat and not weeds, for God and for others.

the CALL

The call was there, but I wasn’t listening. For several years, I was studying a degree in college and enjoy the company of my family and friends, but I knew that there was something else I was supposed to be doing with my life. Kneeling at Mass and watching the priest elevate the host; I knew that this is what I called to do.

Though unworthy we all respond to the call of God. The first inclination came when we personally experience God’s love, and in that special moment, we had made a promise to offer ourselves for Him- to live and die for Christ.

So, we decided to give seminary a chance. We inquired; we took the entrance exam and prayed that we may pass the interview. Through God’s grace and mercy, He accepted us and let us experienced a life of a seminarian- a life that is consecrated to God and ONLY to God.

Some had started the journey about 5, 4, or years ago, and for some less than a month. Some are still pursuing their dreams to become holy priests, yet some had given priesthood a break- a rest.

Seminary life is hard. Oh, let me rephrase that: Seminary life is very hard. There are lots of things to be done in a very limited time. I entered the seminary in 2009, and in that year, the Holy Father declared it as Year of Priest, and with my entry, I never been happier.

A seminarian’s joy can never be found in recognition, in medals, in material possession but rather in ordinary things- through the eyes of faith, seeing the ordinary extraordinary- When one hears God’s song of love in a chirp of a bird, His playfulness in the dancing rain, and His care in warmth sunshine.

Jesus had said, unless a seed dies, it will never bear fruit. So, we who aspire to be like Christ must die. We must bring death to our selfishness, to our pride, our wants, our very selves.

Though it is not easy, but that is something we can do, and with God it is very possible. Indeed, dying is the heart of our call. By dying, we become saints to our brothers and sisters.

Though we participate in the Divine Plan, God will test us with struggles and disappointments, with worries and anxieties- and of course homesickness. And only those who are strong can survive- only those who pray more can live and continue to struggle.

Live on what you believe. Trust in Divine Providence. Aspire to become saints. As a Franciscan monk once told me, “Saints are made at the foot of the tabernacle; it is where our Mother Mary leads us”.

Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of Body and Blood of Christ. In the Eucharist, we are encountering and experiencing Jesus himself. It is He, our Lord and Master, who called us, and sent us out, to bring to others what we have received, to share Jesus with others and to be Jesus to the world around us.

Having enjoyed the benefits of my identiy, I sometiems get worried of getting regency. What will be the reaction of my family and friends?

But the issue had been patch up. Through prayers and reflections , the feeling underwent a natural death. I have lesser fear of getting regency now. The truth of the matter lies on the understanding of one’s real worth. My being a seminarian is only an ccidental  nature of the real me.  There are more in me that I will soon discover as years grow by. I am still in the processs of becoming something greater than what I am today.

In the future, I may become a writer, a teacher, a monk or a priest; the decision lies not on what my family think what’s best for me, but rather on what makes me truly happy.

I don’t know what tomorrow brings me, but I am certain that everyday is a oppurtunity, a blessing, a gift, to finally meet my true self.

seminarians’s phenomenology

I made this reflection from my phenomenology class. Though I misunderstood the instruction I earned an 88 grade plus my instructor’s remark “How do you understand you own existence as a ‘seminarian w/o any reference to any philosopher”.

The moment one defines something else remote from his experience, his assumptions will turn him into erroneous viewing on how things really are. He can never arrive at the exact definition of what a seminarian is until he becomes like us- a seminarian. Only then, one’s description of what a seminarian really is becomes valid and true.

For Sarte, man is always in the process of becoming, “man makes himself”. We can never be anything specific, and when we try to establish ourselves as something particular- whether a social role (teacher or lawyer) or a certain character (shy, intellectual, and cowardly) – we are in bad faith. Bad faith is erroneously viewing ourselves as someone fixed and settled, but it is also bad faith to view oneself as being of infinite possibilities and ignore always the restrictive facts and circumstances in which all the choices must be made. Since phenomenology is a philosophy with lesser prepositions, so, one must dropped off every claim he had and “back to the things themselves”.

A seminarian can never blame his formators, the seminary, his seminary-brothers or anyone else for what he becomes but rather ONLY himself. It is true that we can never free ourselves from the ‘situation’ we are into, though one is always free to deny/negate the situations and try to change it. Our freedom will always have its parallel responsibility. As Jean Paul Sarte said, “in the end only one is resp0onsible for what is made of one”. We will always be accountable to ourselves. Man, for phenomenologist, is free to imagine, free to choose, and responsible for one’s lot in life.

As a primary agent of formation, a seminarian’s self becomes “nothing” and is always on its way to being something. Throughout formation we are directed with rules and regulations, which formed our values and attitudes, necessary for formation. We have to look in ourselves from our roots, from our core. Despite that we are formed for a common goal- a holy priest, but during our lives we remain free to envision new possibilities, to reform oneself and reinterpret our being in the light of new projects and ambitions- our transcendence. We are always trying to define ourselves,; on the other hand we are always free to break away from what we are and always responsible for what we have made ourselves.

I want to be a monk!

I am still undecided which path should I take, but I am aware that all roads end to Him. These past months, I have been thinking long-term plans: proceeds Theology, earned a degree in Mariology, teach Philosophy for a year and find a girlfriend perhaps?

I see myself unfit for priesthood and unprepared for monastic life. This apprehension came into my mind through careful reflection and evaluation of self.

I am very grateful to our Lord for all the gifts He gave me especially my seminary formation. I come to meet myself and mostly to know Him personally. I am thankful with the direction I received from my Formators and the inspiration from my seminary brothers who helped me to sustain my call and motivate me to go deeper. I am convinced that there are more things to learn, more lessons to understand, and more life I need to live.

Life is beautiful and will always be if I let myself be painted with God’s love. My doors are still open for whatever circumstances I’ll face in the future. I am confident and unafraid despite of the uncertainty life brings. I have faith in Him. This faith will bring me to see reality deeper than what my eyes can see.

I want to be a simple monk and that is all that matters to me now. I do still have fears of taking the leap, and monastic life, like any other vocation, is a leap to unknown. The only thing clear about it is an entrustment to the love of God. I have experienced His love, and I realized it is the only certainty worth having. The thought of becoming a monk someday brought me joy and peace.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus once asked, “If God is the head and we are the body, then who is the heart? I will be the heart”. Inspired by her simplicity and love, I want to be the heart too. I want to live in a world of prayer and sacrifice where I can pray for my soul and yours too, and for all. I had reflected that when doing active apostolate- (catechism, social action etc.) I am so limited, but when I curbed my hands and pray, my help is universal.

Having my exposure in different parishes brought to discover that a priest’s time is divided with so many concerns and cares that sometimes he does have a little time left to pray. I look at my brothers and see something which I understand so little. This few young men are still weak and immature despite of having a noble goal. There is a great need to clarify personal issues before taking on greater responsibilities. There are only a few who passed in my own “standard”. But in the end, it is not me who will qualify them for the priesthood, good thing, it’s God. At least, God knows what He’s doing.

I come to realize that I need to prepare myself for the advent of my true call. I only have one life to live and I want to live it for Him, with Him and in Him. I’ve done so many mistakes in the past- it is all I can give, it is all I have. Please pray for me as I pray for you.

May God’s love continue to inspire us to give all ourselves to Him.

May Mary, the Gate of Heaven, protect us under her mantle.

I pray then that we may always find ourselves in God’s embrace and in His unending grace.

In prayer and love,

Khim