Goodness is your original design

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I feel so bad taking two days off blogging because of work and other personal stuff especially when the first readings for the past two days were about the Creation. It’s like we’re starting anew in our faith journey.

What struck me the most about the Creation story was how God called every thing He created as “good.” 

"God looked at everything he had made, and He found it very good.” 

Goodness is our original design. God made us to be good.

For the past few days, I struggled with self-belief again. But, God reminded me that no matter how far I have fallen, no matter how much I have sinned, I am still good enough for Him. Because He created me to be good. Even before I accomplished anything, He was already pleased with me.

Like me, maybe you have fallen so far because of your sins. Maybe you’re already thinking that you are a failure. Maybe you have even fallen far away from God. But, just remember that when God created you, He found you to be very good. He was already pleased with you the very first moment you were created. Even when you have done nothing yet to deserve His love.

You are good. Maybe you can’t see it. (I also struggle with this… a lot.) But, God sees it.

Shall we pick ourselves up?


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What gives your life its taste

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"You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything…”

There’s nothing more excruciating than living without purpose. Purpose is what separates those who are truly living from those who are merely existing.

Some have not yet discovered their purpose. Some have lost sight of it because of discouragement. Some don’t even bother looking for it because of their daily anxieties or their pursuit of the world’s riches.

You are the salt of the earth. Your purpose is what gives your life its taste.

Find it. Nourish it. Keep holding on to it even in the midst of adversity. Especially in the midst of adversity.

Let us live with purpose.

 

P.S. It’s not as easy as it sounds, especially in the face of discouragement. But, God is our strength.


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Overcoming peer pressure

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How many of us have fallen because of peer pressure?

Today’s Gospel reading tells the story of the death of John the Baptist. King Herod feared John, respected him, and knew him to be righteous man. While Herod was perplexed when he heard John speak, he liked listening to him. He didn’t want to kill him. He only arrested him and put him in custody.

But because of his oath to his daughter and not wanting to lose face among his guests, he asked an executioner to behead John in the prison.

Many of our politicians and other powerful people make poor decisions because of peer pressure and all the other pressures of the world. Many of them create bills and pass on laws such as divorce, contraceptions, and same-sex marriage that are in conflict with the natural laws of God. (I wrote more about my views regarding these topics in a previous post here.)

But, it’s not only them who make poor decisions. We also do in our daily lives — from crossing the street where there are no pedestrian lanes to looking at pornographic materials. After all, everyone is doing it. (I’m also a work in progress.)

The voices of the world tell us to choose what is good for us, that we fail to choose God’s best. It’s not always a choice between right and wrong. It’s often a choice between what’s good and what’s best for us.

Overcoming peer pressure means rising above the voices of the world. And we can do that only by listening to a different voice — God’s loving voice.

In the silence of our own hearts.

In the peace of our prayers.

Are you struggling with the pressures of the world? Don't give up and give in. 

Cease whatever you're doing. Make time for God. Listen to Him in the silence of your heart and in the peace of your prayers. Make the best decisions with God. Take your time if you have to.


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The essence of the law

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Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Lord’s Presentation. According to Scripture, "Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord."

But, what is the true essence of the law?

"The Commandments take on their full meaning within the covenant. According to Scripture, man's moral life has all its meaning in and through the covenant… The Commandments properly so-called come in the second place: they express the implications of belonging to God through the establishment of the covenant. Moral existence is a response to the Lord's loving initiative...” — Catechism of the Catholic Church Paragraphs 2061 and 2062 (CCC 2061, 2062)

The essence of the law is love. Following the Commandments of God is our response to His covenant of love for us.

However, many of us follow the Commandments blindly. Others try to bend the Commandments for their own selfish gains or to justify their beliefs. Some even do not follow the Commandments at all. It’s because we have already forgotten what precedes the Commandments.

Before the Commandments, there was God’s covenant to Abraham of land, nation, and worldwide blessing. The covenant preceded the Commandments. God’s love preceded our call to obedience.

The Commandments were established in order for us to fully receive God’s covenant of love. Not because He withholds it from us, but because we reject it through disobedience. Just imagine a world where every one follows the Commandments. Wouldn’t it be heaven here on earth? Wouldn’t we feel God’s love everywhere we go and in every person we meet? But, alas, it is not so.

That’s why when Jesus came, He fulfilled the covenant made to Abraham and also fully revealed the essence of the law with His Gospel of love (including the Beatitudes):

"The Beatitudes are at the heart of Jesus' preaching. They take up the promises made to the chosen people since Abraham. The Beatitudes fulfill the promises by ordering them no longer merely to the possession of a territory, but to the Kingdom of heaven.” — CCC 1716

Jesus did not abolish the law. He fully revealed its essence of love because He wants us to experience life in its fullness and eternal life with God. 

As for us, let us look at the Commandments through the lens of love.


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A difficult teaching

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"A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house." 

My parents did not stop me, but I felt a deep sense of regret coming from them when I left my job (for the third and final time) and pursued my passion as a writer. 

I was a Certified Public Accountant with a steady, if not promising, career. But, I left everything behind when I rediscovered my love for writing. My parents did not discourage me, but they also did not encourage me when I started.

That was so painful for me at that time because my parents were the ones whom I expected to give all the support and encouragement I needed. After I spent all of my savings pursuing this crazy dream of mine, I struggled with self-doubt, despair, and discouragement. A little pat on the back coming from them could have taken all those pains away. But, instead, they were telling me to go back to my profession which made me doubt my decision even more.

Today, I am earning almost as much as I used to as a finance professional. It’s not much, but I’m happy to have the freedom to pursue what I love to do — writing and drawing silly cartoons. My parents eventually learned to encourage me and support me with what I’m doing. Although, they still bring up the topic of going back to the corporate world from time to time, I can’t really blame them. They’re just concerned for my future. And I love them.

I consider this dream of mine not only as my passion, but also my mission of spreading God’s love. That’s why I was ready to sacrifice and leave everything behind. Even when it meant my parents’ being disappointed with my decision. I just took comfort in the words of Jesus that even a prophet is without honor in his native place, among his kin, and in his own house. 

Sometimes, it is our own families and the people closest to us who will not give the support we need. It’s a difficult teaching, but even without their support, we should carry out and fulfill our mission and purpose.

 

P.S. Still, our families are our first ministries. We would be hypocrites if we dishonor our parents or neglect our own families for the sake of our missions. When I made a choice regarding my career and to pursue my purpose, I made sure that I still honored, respected, and loved my parents. Since then, we have never been closer. 


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