A blessed and happy Easter to you all! I pray and hope that your Lenten journey has been transformative. This is really what Easter is all about: New Life and New Beginnings! Lent has given us the opportunity to reflect on our lifestyle, our relationships to God, others, and self, and a chance to forgive, to ask for forgiveness, and be forgiven.–forgiveness not only from others, but more importantly, from oneself. The reason why many people are not able to forgive others is because they have not forgiven and cannot forgive themselves–you cannot give what you do not have. You will not be able to really forgive, if you haven’t totally forgiven yourself.
Therefore, Easter is a celebration of our New Life with God, others and self. Easter gives us the space to renew ourselves and live out our transformed life from our Lenten journey. We have been resurrected with Christ. Christ brought us out from darkness to light; from death to life. We are a new creation ! We are given the grace and courage to have new ways of relating, which is more forgiving and compassionate; new ways of seeing and thinking, which is less judgemental and opinionated; and new ways of speaking, which is more caring and loving.
The very thing that holds us back from walking in this new path and acting out of our new self is FEAR. We are afraid to step out of our old ways of thinking, speaking and relating. We are afraid of what others might say or think. We are afraid of getting hurt again; we are afraid we don’t know how to act differently; we are afraid of the unknown! Indeed, we ought to be afraid, because like a child, we actually do not know where we are going without the guidance and nurturance of our parents/guardians, in this case, our God. Therefore, we need God to hold our hand and show us the way; hence, Jesus says: “Do not fear. Only believe…” (Lk 8:50; Mk 5:36) and in Proverb 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Relying only on ourselves without God, is like driving in an unknown path without a map or GPS, getting lost in the process. So many people instead of establishing a relationship with God, establish their relationship with drugs, alcohol, sex and unhealthy relationships–all of which, just perpetuate their empty selves and losing their very self.
We all want to be independent and reject what seemed to have hurt us–in most cases, religion, has something to do with this painful experience. Therefore, the tendency is to reject everything that has to do with God and anything that resembles religiosity; albeit we continue to seek something to fill our empty life and search for meaning–in reality, we seek the truth about God.
All through the ages, we, human beings, have been seekers of “truth” in our search for meaning in life. We so desire to articulate our faith and to express the deep urgings from within, which we call “conscience.” Hence, we have resorted to Philosophy and listened to great minds such as Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aguinas, Bonaventure, Augustine, etc. We struggle to see the connection between knowledge and understanding, the dialogue between science and the world, and to have a vision of life that’s not split from human sciences. And yet, despite (or because) of that, we find ourselves in the midst of pluralism, secularism, and globalization of religions and religious beliefs. These efforts and results only speak of the ambiguity of human persons and the fact that “God’s ways are not our ways,” and “God’s knowledge are too lofty for us to understand.” Also, I am reminded of the tower of Babel — the more we seek to “reach God’s mind” the more we get confused. God’s gifts of faith and conscience are indeed precious. In fact, all of God’s gifts are precious, which include Philosophy, and other human sciences.
Yes, whether we admit it or not, we seek to understand and to know God. Deep inside, we actually have an unquenchable thirst to strengthen our faith and to deepen our love for God. Our seeking is not for ourselves alone but for others, as well — we have a need to share our faith and love of God with others, in a language that will not sound “religious” or in a way that people won’t frown upon. We seek that we may see the face of God in the daily ordinariness of our lives. We subconsciously seek God in Scriptures, in churches, in community and in family–and debate or argue on things that we are actually struggling with. We have so convinced ourselves that “they are wrong” and “I am right.” In reality, with our defenses down, we just seek faith that informs our reasons.
Dialogue is very important if we have to reconcile the tensions between pluralism and Truth. And yet, what is “Truth”? Each religious group can make a claim that they have the “Truth.” I would say that we all have pieces of the truth, like pieces of the puzzle. When we dialogue, we are able to put the pieces of “truth” or pieces of the puzzle together and see the “big picture” or the whole truth. When we dialogue with an open mind and heart, we begin to understand our differences, appreciate our diversities, and accept other’s uniqueness. We realize that we cannot put God in a box because indeed God is much greater than we think or can even imagine. When we dialogue, we open ourselves up and let God be God.
When we give ourselves permission to have a relationship with God, we get to know God intimately and are able to journey with God without fear Our experience of God is no longer influenced by others–it doesn’t matter anymore what other’s say. We know in our heart of hearts who God is…and therefore, able to celebrate our new beginnings, our new and transformed life! HAVE A JOY-FILLED EASTER SEASON!
One with you in the Risen Christ,