‘The Lord is kind and merciful’

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By Evelyn R. Luab

Light Sunday

Saturday, March 8, 2014


FR. NOEL Gartlan emphasized this psalm (i.e. Psalm 103) in his 5:30 p.m. homily at the mass held in Redemptorist Church last Feb. 28. Without this reminder many of us would be scared to prepare for Lent. It should be a time for rejoicing for we get to reflect on God’s kindness and mercy.

Last Wednesday was Ash Wednesday. It was a day of fasting and abstinence. Fasting from food and abstaining from meat are relatively easy things to do. There are other more difficult things to offer to our Lord if we truly want do something difficult.

How about fasting from gossip or abstaining from signature brands? How about denying ourselves the lavish birthday parties or outings? How about minimizing the leisure time we spend in watching tele-novelas and maximizing the time to visit lonely relatives whom we have not spent time with?

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I am not belittling people who fast from mahjong or people who do not use make-up for 40 days or teenagers who abstain from sodas or chocolates. However, taking the narrow path and doing more positive acts of love can be very beautiful too.

Let’s take the act of forgiving. Forgiveness is a choice. We can start by picking up the phone and saying, “Hi, I’ve been thinking of you. How are you?” If you get rebuffed, at least you tried. However, friends who have not spoken to each other for ages thaw out at the first act of reaching out. The biggest quest for peace is solved by learning to live again after what has happened. It means letting go of hate and bitterness.

Many women whose husbands left them for another woman have moved on from their pain and rebuilt better lives. Some women who were molested when young have managed to leave the trauma behind and become highly successful women in later life.

Men too are able to put the past behind. Ex-convicts who have gotten rehabilitated are now in society’s mainstream, and through hard work and faith in God have managed to straighten their crooked ways and become solid and honest family men. Other men who have failed in a business enterprise have been able to stand up and not give up. Today they are the leaders in our recovering economy.

Somehow the spirit of Lent brings to our minds that God is forever taking care of us. During retreats or during days of Lenten Recollections, we can pause for a while and reflect on God’s tireless care and love for us.

The Gospel of Mathew 6: 24-31 last Mar. 2 spoke about the birds in the sky and the wild flowers. In effect, the focus was for us to trust in God and not to wallow in worry. “We just have to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to us besides.”

For many of us, especially parents who do worry, we can face our worries, do what we can and then turn our eyes to a God who will not forsake us. It is so easy to mouth the words, “Trust in God” but doing so (i.e. trusting) has proven to be difficult.

However, I had a very pleasant surprise at the Naia airport while waiting for my flight home. I noticed a middle-aged woman crying by my side. Nudging her, I asked, “Can I help?” She looked at me and said, “I’m crying because I’m happy. I just talked to my dad on the phone.”

She introduced herself as Emily, a balikbayan from Dubai. She was waiting for a connecting flight to Davao to attend the funeral of her mother. It seems she had asked the Lord to give her mom a happy death, when she found out that her mom was dying. Her father had just confirmed that her mom passed away in her sleep.

She added: “I’ve been in Dubai for 15years. I’m the breadwinner of our family. The Lord has always answered my prayers and taken good care of me. I have a good job in Dubai and I got married there. Whenever I’m deep in problems, I turn to God. God has always been very kind to me.”

“Her trust in God” was reflected on her face. I felt so humble as I felt her childlike trust in God. There will be many occasions for retreats this Lenten season. Let us take time to pause, to reflect, to be still and to feel God’s kindness and mercy.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 09, 2014.

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