Thoughts To Live By…

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Gospel Reflection: Mt: 11:28

A man approaches a priest and asks: “Please bless me, Father, coz I have so many problems.

My son is a drug addict, my daughter an unwed mother, my wife a gambler.

Priest: Wala bang positive sa buhay mo? (Is there nothing positive about your life?)

Man: Me, Father… HIV positive!

* * *

Of course, that’s still negative. The funny story somehow illustrates how we are beset by a lot of problems.

Jesus in this 14th Sunday gospel invites us: “Come to me all who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).

Christ’s words are very timely and consoling, considering our problems today – the rising cost of living (and even cost of dying!), calamities like the recent typhoon “Frank,” holdups, personal and family problems.

* * *

Jesus comes to us as a friend who is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great compassion” – a “bridge over troubled waters,” as the song puts it.

He teaches us to cultivate relinquishment, the ability to “let go” of our anxieties and to put ourselves in God’s hands.

* * *

But some cynic might say, “How can I put myself in God’s hands when my creditors are running after me over my two-million peso debt?” Or, should I not worry if I’m on the verge of losing my job due to retrenchment? Or, this lump on my neck is diagnosed as terminal cancer?

These should be causes for worry indeed. But we must distinguish between worry and concern. Worry is an emotional response that is stressful and draining. It is problem-oriented.

* * *

Concern, on the other hand, is a rational and constructive process – and it is solution-oriented. It’s the difference between fear unaccompanied by useful action and the determination to calmly look for a solution.

As regards unpaid debt, I know of some people who through sheer diligence, determination, and financial restraint were able to gradually pay their obligation.

* * *

As regards losing a job, it’s not the end of the road. You can always start again somewhere. As the saying goes, “Hope springs eternal.” As long as you’re alive, there’s hope.

When we put ourselves in God’s hands, it does not mean we’re escaping from personal responsibility. It is, as “concern” mean, solution-oriented.

Remember the metaphor Jesus uses in this Sunday gospel about the yoke? In Palestine two oxen are joined together in pulling heavy loads. The two oxen represent God and you sharing the burden.

* * *

It means God helps us but we have also to do our share. Ask yourself: When you have problems, do you present them to the Lord and ask for help? Or do you just keep them to yourself? Do you give in to self-pity and excessive worry, not doing anything to remedy your predicament?

* * *

Once a lady was talking about the secret of her success. She made this striking remark: “I work hard; I do my part then I let God do the rest.” Incidentally, that’s also the principle behind the success of our boxing champ Manny Pacquiao. Notice how he prays hard, kneeling at the ring’s corner before and after the fight. However, he also trains on long and dreary hours, always learning the winning techniques.

That should be our Christian attitude, too. As much as we pray so must we work. “Ora et labora.”

Author: Fr. Luis Beltran, SVD


June 2017
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