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In the Lens of Faith: An Apostolate Reflection
There is a famous African proverb that says: “I am because we are.” Indeed, another way of saying that we are all a part of this one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. Lumen Gentium teaches us that the “church is the people of God.” Hence we are a part of the greater whole, and so hand-in-hand we walk together as many but one love. It is through Christ’s body that we become one in faith, hope, and love. And I think this is what our apostolate teaches us.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church started with the point that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. That is why every human person has a dignity and deserves to be respected. No human person has a higher dignity than the other for we are all created with equal dignity and equal rights. The problem with the world is that many people regard themselves as if they have all the riches in the world. Well, now the challenge is, approach the people, know their lives and touch their hearts. And there one will understand how cruel our world is.
The seminary trains us to be Christ-like, the reason why we immerse ourselves into different kinds of formation. Our apostolate shows us the reality that only a few would realize and many would ignore. Poverty, oppression, corruption, and injustice – these are just some of the things/realities that reflects particularly in our apostolate areas as first year (Shelterville and Prison). Every time I see these realities in our society, I always go back to the question of Theodicy: Where is God? This question has guided me through my journey as I strive to know more.
As I go through these apostolates, Theology taught me to look at these things in the lens of faith. As I look at the smiles and laughter, as I hear the stories of different people, and as I see others cry I realized how God works in mysterious ways. Some people have hearts who knows love but never felt love. There are also whom I knew who tries to see a glimpse of hope even in the midst of hopelessness. And I admit that there people who acknowledge and believed in the presence of God more than I do. How weak I am that my faith is being shaken because of these difficulties that I encounter, not realizing that there are people who carries heavier burden than I am. That’s how I felt His loving presence.
All this time I was looking for God. All this time I have been asking the same question, only to realize that God, whom I am looking for a long time is always with me. I am just to callous not to feel His presence. Now I understand how these people in our apostolate areas see hope even in the most difficult moments. I am reminded of Christ who is nailed on the cross. A God who knows our sufferings and who suffers with us is what Jesus wants us to realize. The cross is a symbol of hope for all humanity and a reminder that God, even in our suffering, will never abandon us.
We now realize that we are a part of the greater whole. The Church is the people of God, thus even the “poorest of the poor” is included. In other words, we journey together as one Church and in this journey we help each other. Jesus himself gave us the example, when he healed men and women in the streets, when comforted the sick, feed the hungry, and embraced those who are being despised. So who are we to ignore our brothers and sisters in Christ? Jesus Christ came into the world to show us the example of true love. And the challenge of Jesus to all of us is to bring his love to all the people.
Our apostolates made us realize this challenge. We are indeed blessed that we encountered these people in order to strengthen us in faith, to be able to give hope, in order to love more. Through these people whom I encountered in my apostolate areas, I suddenly realized the ministry of Jesus during his lifetime. To be with the people, and to live with the people is a best way to form oneself in becoming a future pastor of the flock.
Let me end this reflection with the beautiful words of St. Paul:
“Though he was in the form of God
Jesus did not deem equality with God
Something to be grasped at
Rather he emptied himself
Taking the form of a slave
In the likeness of men.”
Indeed, Jesus became lowly like we are in order to live with us and be with us. Now we are challenged to be like him, to be with the people and help them recognize the presence of Jesus. These people touched my heart that I am able to discover and recognize God in difficult times. And I am grateful for these apostolates for letting me realize that there are lessons in life that we can only know and discover outside and not inside the classroom.
© 2017 Adolf Christopper Festejo