PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

 

Lenten retreat reflection: Day 9 - Call to the heights

pp. 32-35 http://books.google.com.ph/books?id=EOg19fGyNyoC&pg=PA32&lpg=PP1&output=html_text

I need not be a saint right-away, I realize (maybe latter-day saint? ;p), to taste how possible it is to be "called to the heights" in my day to day life as a struggling Christian. I notice that I've always been called to that whenever someone or something offends me, and they are legion.

For instance, I remember how I hated the place I live in for its narrow sidewalks that are occupied by people and things that shouldn't be there. Maybe I got exhausted complaining, but I never expected I am capable of going beyond hate and cursing; I was in fact capable of forgiving the situation, not so much in helpless resignation as in understanding why my place ended up this way, with the hope that things will eventually get better. I surprised even myself when I found myself praying for the place instead, specifically for an overhaul, an urban renewal.

I also remember how I used to despise the workplace in the BPO industry, how I used to feel being abused, taken advantaged of, with all those long hours, superhuman quotas and speed demanded from day to day. I proved to be just as capable of forgiving the companies I thought to be monstrously greedy in my estimation, to be understanding of the nature of the beast. I never expected I had the capacity to open my mind wide enough so as to be grateful instead for the opportunity, so as to blame myself for being part of the problem, for allowing myself to be taken advantaged of because I needed to be the victim, my parents for their perceived failings, the sibling with whom I felt rivalry, and so on.

The list of the things and persons I was able to forgive out of my own decision, in conjunction with Gods grace, is quite long: the boss who fired me, the boss who didn't keep his word, the palakasan system of hiring in government agencies, the oppressive society and poor family I was born into, etc. etc.

Each act of forgiveness was special to me because each involved a hard struggle, with the self, my hurt feelings, my desire for vengeance. But with every unimaginable hurt coming my way, God  was expecting no less than the heroism of forgiveness. I thought I was incapable of forgiving certain souls and situations, but in the face of God's goodness, everything is forgivable, starting from the macro (alleged abuses of the colonizing Spaniards and Americans, the horrific wartime atrocities of the Japanese, the failings of present-day politicians, and the weaknesses of the Filipino people) to the micro level (a colleague who maltreated me, a boss who took advantage of my kindness, an in-law who had the gumption to threaten me with legal case, my own defects and failings, the friend who still owes me a big amount, et al.). (I opt to include historical, social, and institutional sins because they also wound me deeply.)

It's hard each time I face the dilemma, but it is made easier by the thought that I am forgiving for my own sake, my own peace of mind, my own health. It sounds selfish this way, the way I put it, but the thing is, I was able to decide to forgive at all, again and again, if necessary, when it is so much easier, even enjoyable and satisfying, to take revenge, never mind that God says, "Vengeance is mine."

Another thing that makes it easy for me to forgive my offenders is the reminder that God is exactly like that to me, as easily and repeatedly forgiving, on and on and on, each time I fall. Surely, I too, have a long line of people I have offended, knowingly or unknowingly. This second consideration never fails to make me sober each time I am incredulously angry at someone's capacity for evil (as the abortionists, mass murderers/terroists, drug addicts, sex offenders). I like what Diana U. said in this regard: "Don't hate other people for sinning differently than we do."

This is not to align myself with the saints -- far be it from me to do so. When saints say, "I am wretched," they most probably meant, "I shortened my prayer tiime to just 15 minutes." On the other hand, I am not trying to be falsely humble when I say I am wretched, because it really means I am.

But I can clearly see by now that the all-or-nothing call to sainthood, though it seems unrealistic and unachievable, is really designed for our own good, because where else do you think complacency will lead us? So for me, in any situation, my motto should now be: Sainthood or bust.


Comments:
I guess I'm still playing catch up. Good thoughts, Resty. We keep you and your health in our daily Rosary. God bless!!

Resolute Progress
 
I guess I'm still playing catch up. Good thoughts, Resty. We keep you and your health in our daily Rosary. God bless!!

Resolute Progress
 
Thanks! Hope I'm not toxifying you with these reflections.
 
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