Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Organic innovations

THERE’S no doubt that if we want to survive in our
increasingly complicated times, we need to be flexible, adaptive,
versatile and innovative. This should be our constant mindset. We
should not get stuck with the modes and ways of the past that while
helpful in their own time, may be impractical today.
  
            Just the same, we neither should just discard the things
of the past in an indiscriminating way. That would lead us to a lot of
dangers. We have to know what in them are still useful, because the
new things just cannot arise out of thin air.
  
            The innovations can only come out from the ground of the
past. They bud and flower from the rich soil of our traditions and
especially of the absolute truths of our faith and morals that serve
as the ultimate criteria of what are deemed good in our innovations.
  
            Yes, we need to be innovative always, but of the kind that
is organic, knowing how to blend the old and the new. It’s good that
we develop the skill of thinking out of the box, but neither should we
forget the things of the past that can serve as the launching pad for
the new things.
  
            For sure, we need some structure—like a daily schedule or
plan of action, etc.—to facilitate our innovations. We just have to
remember that we also should not be too schedule-or plan-bound because
surprises can come anytime and we have to be quick to make adjustments
for them.
  
            Thus, we need to be prudent and discerning of things, and
especially of what the Holy Spirit is actually prompting us to do. We
should not forget that the Holy Spirit is always intervening in our
lives and that we need to be most sensitive to his promptings.
  
            We may also have to do some consultations with the
appropriate persons. For this, we need to be humble and open-minded to
acknowledge our limitations and our need for help.

            It also helps that we practice a certain degree of
restraint in our eagerness to innovate. We cannot deny that sometimes
we can be over-eager and we may have to exert extraordinary effort to
deny ourselves in some innovations that are clearly sinful.

              In all this, we just have to be sport and game. We should
not be afraid to do some experiments and suffer some failures. As
someone said, if Plan A does not work, we still have a lot of letters
in the alphabet that we can use to continue with our experimentations.
We just have to learn how to begin and begin again. Our failures and
setbacks are actually good sources of precious lessons.
  
            The important thing is that our motives are earnest and
sincere, founded ultimately on our love for God and for others, and
not just some personal interest. We may have to take some calculated
risks. They are unavoidable in the adventure of our life.
  
            Of course, we need to pause from time to time to see how
things are going. Are we still on the right course? Are our motives
and intentions still pure, or are they slowly contaminated by egoistic
impulses? Is everything done really for the glory of God and for love
of the others, or is already driven by a me-first attitude? Are we
still humble and simple, keeping our right spiritual and supernatural
bearing, or are things deviating from that course?
   
            It’s good that we be demanding in our self-examination so
that we don’t spoil what otherwise is a good initiative to be
innovative, and so that we can map out the relevant strategies to
pursue the ideal of organic innovations.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Always renew and purify our love


THAT’S simply because of the tension between our nature
and our supernatural goal, not to mention our present wounded human
condition that is prone to temptation and sin and to all kinds of
weaknesses. We unavoidably contend with these conditions in our
earthly life.
  
            We can always start with good intentions and the best of
our efforts in anything that we do. But if we do not constantly renew
and purify our love for God and neighbour that should inspire all our
actions, we simply cannot go the distance.

              Somewhere along the way, our energy will weaken, our
motives will get warped, our objectives will get displaced. We should
be realistic and humble enough to acknowledge this fact of life and do
something about it. In this life, the law that we ought to follow is
to always renew and purify our love for God and neighbour.
   
            Yes, there is struggle involved. In fact, we are already
told by our Christian faith that our life here on earth is a warfare.
“The life of man upon earth is a warfare.” (Job 7,1) We need to be
always prepared to do battle with the enemies of our soul and of God
that undermine our true love.
  
            These enemies are identified as the world itself with its
lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life and the
devil himself. St. Paul reminds us that our spiritual enemies are no
joke.
  
            He said that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but
against principalities, against powers, against the rules of the
darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly
places.” (Eph 6,12)
  
            To constantly renew and purify our love means to steadily
conform our love to the love God has for us as shown to us by Christ
and as effected in us through the Holy Spirit. That is why at one
point Christ himself said that we have to love one another as he
himself has loved us. (cfr. Jn 13,34)
  
            Given our unstable human condition, we need to make
constant effort to conform our love to Christ’s love that goes all the
way to assuming all our sins and offering us his mercy.
  
            Everyday we have to make plans and strategies of how to
make our love reflect Christ’s love better. This means that we really
have to actively look at Christ and follow his example more closely.
Like him, we should be willing to do a lot of good and be patient,
understanding and merciful with those who do not practice Christian
love.
   
            In this, we have to be willing to suffer. That’s why the
love for the cross is a sure sign that we are truly loving. We have to
learn how to overcome our tendency to be self-absorbed and
self-centered, interested more in our own good than in the good of the
others.
  
            The usual events of our day actually offer us many
opportunities to renew and purify our love. There are challenges to
tackle, setbacks and disappointments to suffer, etc. These and many
others are good sources to conform our love to Christ’s love. Let’s
not take them for granted.
  
            If our love is real, that is, if it truly reflects
Christ’s love, we will always enjoy a certain sense of peace and joy
in spite of the suffering we can encounter. We may die with Christ,
but we will surely resurrect with him also.
  
            We need to see to it that everyday, we are conscious of
renewing and purifying our love for God and others often. We should
never take this for granted.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

The name to call always


THAT’S Jesus. He is the Savior God who continues to be at
work in us (cfr. Phil 2,13). He is always there for us. All we have to
do is call his name.
  
            As St. Paul said, “God has highly exalted and bestowed the
name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee
should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every
tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the
Father.” (Phil 2,9-11).
  
            In the Collect of the Mass of the Most Holy Name of Jesus,
we pray that God gives us the mercy we implore, “so that all may know
there is no other name to be invoked but the name of your Only
Begotten Son.”
  
            We have to develop the habit of calling on the name of
Jesus always, both in good times and in bad, because in the end, he is
really what matters in any situation we may find ourselves in.
  
            His ways may be different and even in conflict with what
we want, but he always listens to us and resolves things in the best
way for our own good. He will never fail us. But we just have to be
game enough to go through his mysterious and inscrutable ways. Yes,
there will be suffering but he has assured us: “In this world you will
have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16,33)
  
            Let’s remember that with his death and resurrection,
Christ already has conquered all evils and has resolved all our
problems, especially our grave mistakes and sins that can compromise
our eternal destiny. St. Paul expressed this truth of our faith when
he said: “God works all things together for the good of those who love
Him, who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8,28)
  
            The name Jesus means “God saves,” as can be gleaned from
that episode where Joseph was told in a dream to take Mary as his wife
who was found pregnant before they lived together.
  
            “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife,
for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will
bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his
people from their sins.” (Mt 1,20-21)
  
            Jesus, being God who became man for our sake, is always
with us, is always attentive to our needs, is always shaping us and
redeeming us so we can be patterned after him. We are meant to be
“alter Christus” because Christ is the perfect image that God has of
himself and we are supposed to be created in God’s image and likeness
as well.
  
            Even if Jesus is always with us, it is good that we always
call his name so that we can be always aware of our need for him. The
problem we have is that we tend to ignore and forget him, which is
just a step before we go against him. Without him, we find no meaning
in the difficulties, trials, failures and sins that we can commit.
  
            Let us develop the habit of calling his name to the point
that Jesus’ name is somehow mentioned with our every breath. That may
sound quixotic and fantastic, but if we have faith, it certainly can
be achieved. In fact, that is the ideal state to be in our life.
  
            Jesus has made everything available for us to be what we
ought to be: “alter Christus,” another Christ!