Sunday Thoughts: Mary & Martha

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.

She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.

Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.”

The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her. ~ Luke 10:38-42

I’ve heard this gospel so many times already but it was only today that it struck me most.

The priest explained how Martha symbolizes people who are anxious about so many things; prioritizing career, finances, stability, worldly things, etc. While Mary symbolizes people who choose to chill and serve and listen to the Lord.

We are always called to play host to Jesus in our lives, yet we are often too busy “slaving in the kitchen” to hear what He has to say to us. Our own worldly anxieties prevent us from hearing His voice and knowing what He really wants in our lives.

We often feel it’s more important to acquire wealth, climb up the corporate ladder, etc. than it is to be of service to God.

“Right now, I think I’m Martha,” I whispered to my mom.

“Me too,” she said.

Apparently we were thinking of the same thing: my illness.

“I’m anxious about how it’s going to go this time around and why it has to happen now, when there’s just so much ahead of you and you’re already planning your future.”

“Me naman, I feel like God gave this to me now ’cause I’ve been too focused on so many things, like my supposed Eurotrip and the wedding, that I sometimes forget to pause and ask, ‘Lord, is this what you want?’ I don’t know. Last time din you were already saving up for retirement and then that happened.”

What I said actually did not make sense at all, now that I think about it. Because I really do not understand why things are the way they are at present. Plus, I also make it seem like God is a punishing God, when He really isn’t. It’s just not the right time to understand.

Tita Cecile sent me a link to a Rick Warren preaching the other day. My greatest takeaway from that is that before God sends us out into the storm, He prays for us. You may say, “What? That’s weird,” because who does He pray to, right? But to that, Rick says, “DO YOU NOT TALK TO YOURSELF SOMETIMES?” Lolz. Basically, it means that God has thought it through and knows how things will turn out before He makes us experience the storms in our lives. And the reason why He sends us out into the storm is to test our faith and make us stronger, as with the case of the apostles + stormy seas.

All we truly ever need is faith.

Lord, I apologize for the times when I am anxious about so many things and prioritize worldly things over You. Please guide my ship’s sails that I may navigate toward the direction you have set out for me and come out stronger on the other side of this storm. Open my ears, as well as my mind and heart, that I may hear your call, listen, and accept.

Sunday Thoughts: The Prodigal Son

‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ ~ Luke 15:31-32

Every Catholic school girl (or boy) knows this story — one of the Prodigal Son who took his inheritance, wasted his money on things of the world, and realized later on that he was wrong.

I remember buying a few gospel books during my elementary days from those people from St. Paul who came by our school once a year. Looking back, I realize just how much of a Catholic school girl I really was. I adored those two kiddie gospel books I purchased (which I didn’t even have to coerce my parents into buying!) that contained mini stories from the bible such as those of Samson and Delilah, David and Goliath, Moses, Joseph, etc. I read those books over and over and found myself amazed at just how nice God was. That was my first shallow understanding of His unconditional love.

As I read this gospel today, though, I’m seeing the story of the Prodigal Son with brand new eyes. I always just used to view this as one that showed how forgiving and loving God was as a Father. What I failed to see, though, was the role of the older brother in the story which, when read in context, represents those who have long been consistent, faithful, and obedient to their loved ones.

Has there ever come a time when you felt someone close to you was loved and appreciated more than you by (another) someone whom you never failed to show your own love to? Have you ever found yourself fighting for someone’s attention? Have you ever found yourself conflicted on whether or not your feelings of jealousy are even rational? I’ve encountered this a couple times in big and small ways in my life. Big, in such a way that I really took the matter to heart and made fits about it in public. Small, because in some instances, I got to stop myself from going full-on crazy green monster mode.

Thinking about it now, I realize just how much the Father has changed me through the years with His Words. These are the things that I got out of rereading this gospel today:

  1. Whenever you feel like you aren’t enough for someone, remember that our God appreciates and loves us no matter what. People will sometimes fail us, but He never will.
  2. Be more loving and understanding with those whom you think are “replacing” you. Others may be giving them the extra attention because they’re the ones who don’t feel they are loved enough, or else really need to feel that they are loved. They may also be the ones who need more guidance. God has called each of us to share the love that we have received. So instead of focusing on what isn’t, focus on what is — the fact that you know and acknowledge His presence in your life and that you have the ability to let others experience that as well. Let us be the older brother who never questions but is content with living out his days with the Father and the brother whom he loves.
  3. No one is too broken or wicked or sinful for God. He loves all of us equally and can heal and restore you just as well, if not even better, as how he has restored other people. You may not believe it, but the best charismatic speakers in the world are ones who have gone through the worst trials and lived the wildest lives. Yup, like the Prodigal Son. But see? God the Father loved them so much that He allowed them to encounter Him, welcomed them with open arms, and gave them new life. Don’t ever think that you aren’t “holy” or “ready” enough to approach God, because God will always take you in no matter what.

To end, I would like to leave you with the words from today’s Second Reading (2 Corinthians 5:17-21):

Brothers and sisters:
Whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
And all this is from God,
who has reconciled us to himself through Christ
and given us the ministry of reconciliation,
namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting their trespasses against them
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
So we are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Have a blessed Sunday! 🙂

Sunday Thoughts: Gratitude

Yesterday’s gospel & homily focused on GRATITUDE. I wanted to write a reflection about it but didn’t really know how to start without sounding redundant or all over the place. I haven’t been feeling exceptionally grateful the past few weeks, either, despite the many, many things I am continually blessed with. I don’t know. I guess there have just been so many isolated cases of oppression being thrown at me lately. And just as I was about to lose all hope, here comes God to the rescue. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So I woke up this morning with a dark cloud over my head (and not just because it was raining outside). Keywords: email, hypocrisy, engagement. I hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet when these keywords said GOOD MORNING to me. Seriously. Lesson learned: do not check your email and/or social networking sites so early in the morning.

Things just kept getting better as the day progressed. /sarcasm To the point, in fact, that I had found myself crying out of frustration while listening to Julianne’s song. All my attempts at cheering myself up only lasted a while and my morale was running dangerously low .

I kid you not, this really happened. I got THE CALL I was waiting for while I was playing Ikaw Lang for the nth time. The call I have been waiting for TWO. FREAKIN. WEEKS.

Sad tears turned to happy tears.

And then. AND. THEN. My best friend tweeted this:

Youch. That was a huge slap on the face. Like God was telling me, “Hey! Did I not tell you to trust in me? I haven’t  forgotten. Have you?”

Oh, man, I’m crying again.

Thank You, Lord, for the reminder. I’m sorry if I haven’t exactly been a great example of your never failing love. I know you let me live for a reason. Thank You for reminding me of my purpose and for pulling me right back up, just as I was about to give up. I asked for You to get me back on track and You did. I am not worthy, Lord, but You always show me that I am. Thank You! THANK YOU! My words aren’t enough but THANK YOU! Thank You, as well, for sending the people You have sent to keep me positive and alive to this very day. I pray that You would help me continuously grow in Your love. ♥

Lesson on gratitude? Check.

Thanks for reading this! As a sign of my gratitude, here’s an embarrassing video of me singing Julianne’s Grateful back in 2007 — when I was still awkward and inexperienced performing-wise. LOL. But it’s my favorite song; one that always reminds me to be, well, grateful. 🙂

Sunday Thoughts: Persistence

 And he said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread;for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.”And he answers from within, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.” I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

‘So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’ – Luke 11:1-13 (NRSV)

God has been sending me so many signs the past week. A fortnight prior, I had found myself hopeless in prayer; crying, asking God what exactly He wanted from me and if I should just give up on my dream, seeing as He still hasn’t given it to me.

In church, we had been taught that when we pray, we shouldn’t ask in such a way that we’re giving Him a timeline. Instead, we should pray for what He wants for us and adhere to His timeline. So that’s what I’m doing. Let me just be honest and say that WAITING ON THE LORD IS NOT EASY. It’s so hard, in fact, that I often find myself breaking down out of frustration.

Grabbed from Pinterest
Grabbed from Pinterest

But I don’t think He likes seeing me in a state of utter disarray so, as usual, He went on and sent me messages — through last Thursday’s community teaching on Christian Faith (“How can you claim to have faith and have a hint of fear and doubt at the same time?”) and the past Sunday’s readings (Abraham’s persistence in the First Reading + the passage above). I can practically hear him whispering:

“Trust in me, Abby. I have plans for you and I will give you what you want at exactly the right time.”

“Have faith and persist, my child. Do not tire in asking me for what you need, as I have never tired in seeking you and providing all your needs.”

Konting lambing pa.” (Oh, Lord, You are the only one who can make me do this. LOL.)

When I stop and think about it, though, He never really told me to drop the dream. If He wanted me to, He could have just denied my application then and there. But He gave me a 50% chance, which is even more than what I expected, given the circumstances. Whenever my mom points out that it’s probably not for me, I always tell her that. And every time I pray, I always ask God what He wants for/from me, and nothing new ever comes up.

Imagine this: I’ve sent in applications to five different companies. I had an interview with one of them, didn’t get the position I wanted but was offered another; the four others, never heard from at all. I mean, if He wanted me to be somewhere else, I’m pretty sure I’d be there by now. But I’m not! And it seems like everything I’ve been doing lately has just been in preparation for THIS DREAM.

So I guess that’s it. I have to PERSIST. I have to BELIEVE. I have to TRUST and have FAITH without a hint of doubt. I must always remember that what He does is for my good.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Yes, Lord.

Sunday Thoughts: Age & Spirituality

It is Pentecost Sunday as of writing, and a series of events have happened throughout the day that led me to think of these two topics: AGE and SPIRITUALITY.

Let’s start with AGE. I was attending mass this afternoon when this really pretty lady, maybe in her 40s, walked in. There were no seats left so she just stood in the corner for about a minute. One guy from the choir offered her his seat, which I found strange, as there were at least two other women before Pretty Lady who passed by and didn’t even get the same gesture. Perks of being pretty, I guess? Or just mere happenstance?

Anyway, I kept glancing at the lady all throughout the mass ’cause she was just REALLY gorgeous! She was probably half-Spanish; her skin was clear and perfectly olive. Her hair, medium golden blonde with a few gray streaks. She wore a black ensemble paired with tasteful silver accessories, and toted a white Chanel-looking bag. Everything about her just screamed CLASSY!!! and DID NOT UNDERGO COSMETIC SURGERY!!! and I found myself wishing I could age even just half as gracefully as she had.

Despite this, though, if you look carefully, you could still guess which age bracket she belonged to. I then found myself looking at the other women beside her and calculating their respective ages. At one point, I looked at my mom and thought, “She doesn’t look like she’s turning 60 soon. Hmm…” And, “Aww yeah, I’m not going to be fat when I reach her age!” LOL genes. ♥

Anyhoo, the priest also happened to share with us an anecdote about him being asked to bless a lady who was turning 105 years old. He shared how he asked what the lady’s secret was for reaching that age and what changes she noticed over the past century. Apparently, he never got the answers to his questions ’cause the century-old lady was already hard of hearing.

A thought struck me as he was giving his homily — we will never be as young as we are at the moment. People my age sometimes joke about how old we’ve gotten and how time has gone by so fast. One minute we’re just in our living rooms watching Dexter’s Laboratory on TV and the next minute, we’re applying for jobs or, gasp, getting married and having babies.

What I think my age bracket fails to appreciate, though, is that we are currently in our prime! At this point, our bodies, supposedly, are at their most optimal state! It’s at this age that we’re at our most beautiful and are virtually wrinkle-free; we’re armed with all the necessary artillery and our bodies can basically recover from anything we throw at it (assuming they’re thrown in moderation). We’re also considered LEGAL, so we can do whatever we want without people thinking we’re too young or too old for it. Doesn’t that just sound so exciting?!

This just further strengthens the idea of how we, the twenty-somethings, should use this time to experiment or find out what we truly want in our lives. Think about it: most of us are done with university and are just getting into our first (few) jobs. There’s still time for trial and error before we decide to settle down (whether financially or whatever else). There are still so many places to visit and hipster music festivals to attend. There’s also a huge opportunity to discover spirituality ’cause we finally have the time (and space) to get away and drown out all the noises around us.

————————

My cousin went to my house tonight to discuss her anxieties about her future as an artist and an art major. It was a long conversation that involved the keywords pre-quarter life crisis, priorities, timelines, and SPIRITUALITY. Basically, I told her that I went, and still am going, through the same motions and that it was too early for her to think that way. The thing with my cousin is that she can be too intense sometimes. I kept telling her that she still had a whole decade to figure out what she needed to prioritize and what she needed to trash, and that by worrying, she could just possibly miss out on the things that make being a twenty-something awesome.

One thing I noticed was that I always attacked her problems at a spiritual standpoint. I told her that I wouldn’t have gotten through the motions without the spirit guiding me through all of them, and that her problems could be easily answered if she just had the right mindset.

You see, it was after I got sick that I went through what she’s going through right now. By that time, I had already made up my mind that I wanted to learn more about my faith, so I joined my current community. I have learned SO MUCH since and I felt so blessed I got to share it with my cousin.

I found it quite quaint that these thoughts came to me on Pentecost Sunday — the day that celebrates the time the early church got to receive the Holy Spirit. It made me realize how much I’ve matured since I, myself, got to receive the Holy Spirit through our Life in the Spirit Experience (or LSS, to most). Since then, I’ve gained so much wisdom through teachings and discernment, and I also got to easily forgive and let go of things that weren’t healthy for me.

Serviam's LSE 12. Can you spot me? LOL.
Serviam’s LSE 12. Can you spot me? LOL.

During today’s homily, the priest also mentioned these lines: “When you are filled with the Holy Spirit and you are moved to forgive someone who has hurt you, forgive them. Don’t hold on to the resentment, especially when you feel like you’re being moved to forgive.” This struck me the most ’cause just a few weeks ago, I had randomly messaged someone who hurt me and told them I forgive them. That was a day after the spirit-filled corporate worship we had, and I honestly, HONESTLY felt SO moved to forgive. My inner pride said NO, ABBY, DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT, but I still couldn’t stop myself from sending the message. It just felt right. And I immediately felt better afterwards. Have you ever gotten that feeling? It’s just beyond rad!

Anyway, I’m turning preachy again, and that’s far from what I wanted to happen with this entry. Just wanted to write down my thoughts to make sense of them all. Hope you had a wonderful weekend! 😀