Monday, November 26, 2007

Now Or Never? On Seizing Opportunities

As the priest-coordinator of the Ecology Desk of the Archdiocese of Manila, I became very much involved in knowing and assessing the condition of the environment not only in Metro Manila but also in other parts of the world. The issue of climate change and global warming was not particular to any nation but to every nation. It was a concern of all. My position and interest helped me discover that the world was already approaching its tipping point for an ecological disaster. Global warming had already taken place and had been greatly affecting world climate.

Moved by the urgency of the situation, my staff together with some concerned persons planned and held a climate change conference for the archdiocese. The conference was attended mainly by representatives from parishes in Manila and some from other parts of the country especially those that were affected. It was a successful conference in the sense that the participants vowed to create an ecological ministry in their own places to propagate the advocacy. It was nice to know that many are concerned and ready to act to address the situation. This led me to strive to learn more about the issue. Through surfing in the net, I discovered that there had already been so many conferences and meetings about it. Practically, the whole world is already at it. One important conference coming is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which will be held in Bali, Indonesia on December 3 to 14. Upon knowing it, I decided that I should go. To make the long story short, I was able to get an accreditation from the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers who are official observers of the UN.

Unfortunately, because of the importance of the event, the flights and accommodations in Bali suddenly became difficult. About ten thousand delegates were expected to attend.. I tried so hard to get my flight and accommodations set, but in vain. It was discernment time for me. There might not be another chance like this. At the same time, I was faced with a lot of things as pastor of a parish that was preparing for the Advent and Christmas season. In view of these significant situations, I decided not to go. Was it a case of not seizing the opportunity? Maybe. Might be. I will never know.

Early this morning, I was watching a movie entitled, "Shadows In The Sun". It was the story of a young writer from London sent by his editor to encourage a literary titan to write again. The literary titan kept on rejecting his invitations but the young writer would not give up. At one point, he was challenged by the literary titan that he would write again and sign a contract if the young writer will kiss his ass! The young writer was taken aback by the challenge. He declined it. He was chided by the literary titan that it was an opportunity missed. Less than a second of "shame" could have ended his difficulty. On second thought, the young writer finally agreed. The literary titan however told him that he already had his chance and the offer had expired! It was a case of missed opportunity. The other part of the movie also dealt with the issue. It gives a lesson on the importance of the "now" and the courage to seize it.

But, I am glad that there was one opportunity in my life that I did not miss. That was when God called me to become one of His priests. It was not an easy decision, but He guided me and inspired me to say "Yes". It was very similar to the invitation to Mary to become the mother of God. It was a case when you just have to trust God in spite of the difficult challenges given by the situation. Opportunities missed are opportunities lost. How we wish we could seize every opportunity. But our limitations as human beings always challenges our determination and faith. We just hope we will have the will to make decisions, whether missing or seizing, based on our faith in God. In that way, all decisions will be worthy, responsible, and definite. I am glad, I did not miss this one on my vocation.
(Note: As it happened, I was still able to the Conference. Whereas at this time things were not falling into place, three days before the event, everything fell into place.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It Is The Dash That Counts!

Notice the dash that is placed in between dates? For example, 1867 - 1905, may mean born in 1867 and died in 1905. The symbol in between is the "dash". What about the dash? Well, it is actually the most important thing in reality. Yes, we mark the day when one is born into the world. We also mark the day when one leaves the world. But the dash says everything about what happened in between. It is the symbol of how the person had lived his life since he was born and until he died. Interesting, but it seems to be the most unnoticed thing in the picture. Yet, it is what really counts in a person's life. So, the next time you see these dates, think about the dash, because it will help you appreciate the two dates sandwiching it!
Or better, reflect on the meaning of your own dash when your epitaph is finally made.

Monday, November 19, 2007

We Are Near Our End.

The penultimate week of the Church liturgical year reads the Gospel about the end time. In spite of the clear statement from the Lord Jesus that neither He nor the angels know when that day would be, except the Father, many had tried, seriously, as a hobby, or to take advantage, of the situation. Since time immemorial, there had already been about 220 known predictions as to when it will happen. Lately, most of the predictions had been more specific. But all of the predictions were proven wrong. Otherwise, we will not be all here anymore.

In the Gospels and even in all Scriptures, the Lord insists on preparation. To ask when judgment day will happen is a wrong question. We can only surmise that God preferred it that way because of our tendency to procrastinate things. Also, because of the chaos that will happen when the time is near. But most of all, it is because He wanted that we love Him always.

Judgment Day, End Time, End of the World, however it is called or referred to, is a fact and a truth. It is certain to happen. But as to when and how, we do not know. They are not the right questions. What is important is we know it is coming and we are prepared for it. There is no substitute for a well prepared life. In fact, the most prepared life is the best and perfectly lived life! We must be obessessed with our relationship with God and not when it will end. So that when it comes, we can welcome it with full anticipation.

But there is a clear and present danger in the world today. The threat of global warming and climate change is now here. There are now meetings being spearheaded by the United Nations in order to mitigate and adapt to the new situation brought about by this environmental crisis. If leading countries will not cooperate and respond, we might just beat God to the destruction of this world, the only one we got!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

God Will Not Forsake

Recently, I came to know about the sad news of a most probable "pregnancy in futility" of a friend. Twenty-two weeks in her pregnancy, she came to know that the child in her womb was not developing its organs and there was an absence of water in the body. Series of tests and consultations and second opinions brought the news that the baby only lives while inside the body of its mother's womb. Once born, it would die. Should she still bear carrying the baby through its birth or "therapeutically" abort it? It was a difficult case. It was also a moral case. I communicated to the couple that what is inside her womb is already a human being. Therefore, anything done to it would be considered abortion, even if it as "therapeutic". Besides, if it is forcefully and brutally taken out, there is nothing therapeutic about it. Rather it was a case of euthanasia, which, based on our faith, is immoral and gravely sinful. Lately, I came to know that the couple had been led to a decision to go on with the pregnancy and let God decide on the fate of the baby.
Human knowledge maybe considered great and had reached many heights. But compared to the foolishness of God, it is nothing. Yes, we must be guided by our knowledge. They are God given. But there must always be room for God. God is always here with us. That is why He named His Son "Emmanuel" meaning "God with us.". That is why He gave His only Son that we may gain eternal life. Jesus died when we were still sinners. It provides the truth that we are not really worthy of His death. But because God so love the world, even His Son, He is willing to give.
Therefore, in moments of longing for His presence specially in difficult situations, never never entertain the thought that God had forsaken us. In fact, He is more present. We just have to recognize His abiding presence.
God bless you my couple-friend. Do not ever forget that God is always with us. And in moments like what you have, He never forsakes. Amen.