Sunday, December 09, 2007

“Faithful to the end, Focus on the Lord.” That was the title of the message this morning by the pastor, Peter Tan Chi at CCF, the church I’m attending at. As much as I don’t want to be technical and go into the details of the message, I must write the four things he mentioned on how we can remain faithful to the end:
Don’t focus on the past
Don’t tolerate small compromises
Do practice spiritual disciplines
Do develop eternal perspective.

Within the length of it, there was one sentence that became very significant to me. He said “Christians should not reach a plateau.” or something similar to that effect. He mentioned the principle of “skiing”, which I think a lot of us would understand but too few of us would be able to relate to. Funny how he said it, but true, that in skiing, there is only one thing to do, and that is to go down. In a similar manner, if we do nothing, we fall down.

Idleness. That is perhaps one of the cause why a lot of Christians eventually do not finish well in the race. I remember my grandfather. He is already in his eighties but he is still active in his work. And I think that when the day comes that he ceases being active, that is the time he ceases. I noticed that when people become inactive, they would begin feeling “useless” and would slowly feel the pangs of depression. That was how I felt when I had no work for months, that almost took a year. But that is another story.

Peter was of course talking of a spiritual downhill and not of physical activity. “Christians should not reach a plateau.” I believe when we reach a plateau, that is almost similar to a flat line, a medical term often used when the heart stops to beat and shows no electrical activity. To prevent going on a flat line, we must be attuned to God. There are five “activities” he suggested. And that is Bible reading, prayer, meditation, worship and fellowship. Activities that should not be missed. Activities that should become natural, just like breathing, just like eating. Activities that when we miss, makes us weak.

I just came from a retreat a week ago. I was a facilitator in that retreat. What does a facilitator do? To put it simply, we “facilitate” discussions after a message is given. There are almost eight hundred participants in the retreat, and we try to discuss the message in a small group of five to eight people, so as to make sure that participants understand the message, hopefully be able to answer questions left unanswered, and help each one realize how we should respond to the message. I went there with eagerness, with the idea to serve. And the passion still remain. But how do I remain faithful to the end? How would I prevent myself going in a plateau? Sometimes, I fear that there would come a time when I would run out of energy just like an engine would run out of gasoline. I could only refer to the assurance of God, in Isaiah 40:28-31:

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
does not become weary or tired
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
and to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
and vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the LORD
will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

There have been many instances in my life when I simply cannot understand what was going on. And when we those instances happen, my automatic response was to ask the question “why?”

If things are not favorable to me, I would ask “why is this so?” I in effect say that I don’t deserve what is happening to me. When I ask “why me?”, I unconsciously say “it should have happened to anybody except me.”

The default reaction is to ask for an explanation. It’s as if God owes it to us to explain the things that are happening. I realize, for the sake of argument, that if I do get an explanation, where then do trust take place?

In short, if things are not happening the way I want it to happen, these are the factors I realize why I get disappointed. One is because of expectations. I expect things to happen the way I have imagined them to become, or the way I planned them. Second is because of limited understanding. Because it is difficult to accept the things that are happening to me, the next consolation is to rationalize. But in order to rationalize, I have to understand the reason of things. Is it necessary that pain, failure or suffering always involve purpose? It seems fallacy to equate them together. Third is because of self centeredness. The idea that everything else revolves around me makes everything else seem insignificant compared to myself.

In some instances I would be stoic and desensitized. I would act nonchalantly and show an appearance that I ignore suffering. Yet I hurt inside. There are some instances that I would go on with a clenched fist and head held up high, challenge life and say “bring it on!” But that would be a draining activity, and most definitely I would end up defeated.

The only thing left for me to do is to turn to God. I have no other course but to accept the fact that things are not within my power, neither within my control nor within my knowledge. If there is one thing that I know, it is that I know nothing at all. My ignorance brings me shame. It is a humbling realization, but it’s a realization I have to accept.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” – Proverbs 9:10

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

a lot of questions go through my mind.
and most of them i find unanswerable.
for most of the answerable questions,
the answers are not mine to give.

when questions of the mind develop,
the heart is most often unperturbed.
but when the heart begins to inquire,
the mind becomes restless.

Dear God,
would you clear things ambiguous?
would you take away my fear?
would you speak when everything is silent?
would you love me when no one else will?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

I remember when snail mail was still the common way to send letters. I would select the most appropriate paper and envelope I could find. But first, I would write my draft on a “scratch pad”, then painstakingly copy my letter to stationery. Of course I would select a good pen and would be too conscious about how each strokes would be done. It would take even more effort to go to the post office, line for stamps and drop the mail. I remember the anxiousness and agitation, wondering if my letter was already received. But the days and weeks of anticipation do not matter in comparison to the excitement of receiving a reply. If you’re like me, you would open the envelope, meticulously read the date when the stamps were cancelled, and count the date backwards to find out when it was sent.

That was not a long time ago. Today we have email and text messages. I wonder what could be next? Of course, this advancement in technology has it’s price. I’m not referring to the value of each mobile phones, although some of them have inconceivable price. I’m referring to how it changed our perspectives in communication.

Right now, when we send letters through email, we expect that it will be answered within the day, if not within hours or minutes. We would get disappointed if our email would be replied tomorrow or the day after it. We would be annoyed when our boss would not stop to ask if we already received reply from our customers, and there is none.

The expectation is even more intense with text messages. I know of couples who would get into disagreement when one of them would not be able to reply within hours after a message is sent to the other’s mobile. Because of the speed in which we send information, we err to believe that all of our messages must be answered immediately. Because of the speed in which we receive information, we fail to distinguish between what is urgent and what is not, what is important, what is trivial.

Perhaps one error is to equate information with communication. To inform is to give an idea of, but to communicate is to exchange information. We may inform but not necessarily communicate, but whenever we communicate, we inform. The error is to think that when we constantly send email or text message, we are already communicating with the recipient. In fact, we may not be aware of it but we may already be spamming, or giving unsolicited messages. With the advancement of technology, there is a danger that the content of our message has diminished if not lost altogether its value. If we are constantly bombarded with messages, the tendency is to ultimately ignore the messages altogether. Worst would be to arrive at a point when the sender fo the message will be totally ignored as well.

New technology does not necessarily mean that we have progressed in our knowledge. In fact, because information is easily accessible, we could as easily get the wrong or false information more than the facts. With spell checkers available in our word processors, and with the evolution of text shortcuts in SMS, we should not wonder if in case we will regress in our education.

Almost ten years ago, my friends and I used to meet after office. We would even meet sometimes during weekends. We would call each other before we leave our work and agree on a specific time and place to meet.

Mobile phone was not yet popular at that time, at least not in the Philippines. The internet was just starting to be popular. But not everyone had an internet connection nor an email address. To get an internet provider would be costly, even more to own a PC. One could not even imagine that there would be a thing called SMS. But we did not miss to communicate, or at the very least get in touch with each other. In one way or another, we knew how each one was doing.

Things have changed. Today, we rarely see each other. We could only meet if one would celebrate birthday. Sometimes not even. It is very ironic how technology has advanced in terms of communication, yet we now fail to see each other. In fact I even receive more text and email messages from acquaintances. And I’m sure that they even receive less from me. I must write them a letter soon.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

A science news in Yahoo says that many people are planning important events on July 7, 2007. That is because it falls on the 7th day of the seventh month of 2007, or 07/07/07 in a mm/dd/yy format. Part of the news reads “Brides and grooms, especially, looking for a little extra dose of marital fortune, are flocking to the altar in droves on 07/07/07, according to wedding watchers.”

There are a lot of things I found very odd about this. First is that how a news like this could fall under the category of science. But then again, I read within the middle part of the text that it has something to do with numerology, or “para-sciences” like astrology. Second, and most odd about it is that I really wonder how a certain day can impact ones life. Is it really possible that there are certain days that are bad luck and certain days that are good luck for one person? I guess that would depend if you do believe in luck, or to put it bluntly, if you are superstitious. Can numbers control our fate?

Can we help not to be a superstitious people? Even in an age where technology keeps on evolving, and improving, I still get to witness irrational acts or reactions. There are still people who don’t want to get pictures in groups of three, avoid going out on a Friday that falls on the 13th day of the month, knocks on wood whenever some unspeakable words are accidentally uttered, and other things I still don’t get the logic of.

At the office, we receive a daily “Horoscope” email from one email administrator. Except during certain times that I want to read something amusing, I always delete it. I don’t believe that following or avoiding certain numbers, colors or even days could have a direct effect on the outcome of my life. Perhaps if I was heavy on gambling, then certain numbers might be a favorite, but I wouldn’t consider lucky.

I just can’t put together how the movement of planets and stars, which are way far distant from, light years away in fact, could have influence on my daily activities? But then again, I know of a person who is very fearful of the moon, full moon to be specific. This person hides at home, closes all the windows and doesn’t go out during the full moon. Perhaps this proves that the term lunatic is no trivia at all.

Speaking of dates, it fascinates me how some people, and I find it peculiar to most women, remember with complete accuracy the exact dates in certain events of their lives. While I have bad memory in history, there are some people who are so good at remembering the dates, even to the littlest details of what color this or that person wore. I guess some things I consider petty, are most important to others. What a difference a day makes is not found in the day itself, but is found in the person that makes it.

What A Difference A Day Makes
Words & Music by Maria Grever & Stanley Adams
As popularized by by Dinah Washington, 1959

What a diff'rence a day makes
Twenty-four little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain

My yesterday was blue, dear
Today I'm part of you, dear
My lonely nights are through, dear
Since you said you were mine

What a diff'rence a day makes
There's a rainbow before me
Skies above can't be stormy
Since that moment of bliss, that thrilling kiss

It's heaven when you
Find romance on your menu
What a diff'rence a day makes
And the difference is you

What a diff'rence a day makes
There's a rainbow before me
Skies above can't be stormy
Since that moment of bliss, that thrilling kiss

It's heaven when you
Find romance on your menu
What a diff'rence a day makes
And the difference is you.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

“Good is the enemy of great.” I heard this phrase during one of the meeting we had at our office. As I was listening, I seem to get the idea being implied that “good isn’t good enough.” Did it say to mean that we don’t have to be content with being good alone? That instead of being good, we have to aim to be great? So I ask myself, “When does it stop?”

The phrase is popularized by Good to Great author Jim Collins. This is probably borrowed from a quote from Dictionnaire Philosophique by the French Philosopher Voltaire literally translated as "The best is the enemy of good.", but is more commonly cited as "The perfect is the enemy of the good." There is much debate over what Voltaire originally meant when he said “the best is the enemy of good.” But it seems that most interpretation have the idea that sometimes aiming the best is not necessarily good, or might not necessarily turn out good.

Just recently, I received an email with the subject “Staff died due to over work.” The girl, just at the age of 28 was suspected to have died of deep vein thrombosis, a result of inactivity spending too much time with her laptop. She wanted to achieve her dream of “flying high” at the expense of her health. We might find it amusing and say it might not happen to us. But how sure are we that we are not heading in that same direction, with less intensity?

In a cut-throat culture that we adopt today, there seems to be a pressure to edge out competition by being more innovative. When competition comes up with an idea that we have not thought of, we are at the edge of our seats, hear alarm sounds and push the panic button. We should have thought of it first. But since we have not thought of it first, we have to come up with something better.

What could be wrong with being “good enough?” Why couldn’t the good that we do be not good enough? We keep on pushing the standards up to the limit. In the process, we sacrifice a lot of things because we consider them minor, for the sake of achieving a better good or in this case for the sake of achieving the "best." But could the best be good for us?

Consider the following scenario. You might be going to work following a normal schedule. Suddenly, a light bulb pops in your head and gives you the vision that you can accommodate extra load by going to work a little earlier than your time. So you wake up a little earlier than normal. This goes on for some time until you think that “I could do more work by staying a little late than I usually do.” So you stay a little longer. What is thirty minutes anyway? Then your thirty minutes become an hour. Then an hour becomes two. Suddenly, you have to work extra during the weekend because you have to finish a deadline. This becomes a habit until you no longer realize that what used to be is no longer your normal schedule and that what you are now used to is your new normal schedule.

Again consider the following scenario. Last year you have projected a 75% target and surpassed it by achieving 80%. But you are not contented and so we have to go beyond the target. Since you were able to achieve 80% last year, you have to do better by setting 85% as target. And you will only be happy if you achieve beyond the set target. So you have to overhaul a lot of things. You might be urged to “think out of the box” just to stress to think of something different than the good you have been doing. So you fix something that isn’t even broken. In the end, you set priorities and goals to achieve, but sacrificing the minor things that are good and yet make up a whole.

"Perfection of means and confusion of goals seem - in my opinion - to characterize our age." - Einstein

Sunday, May 20, 2007

I woke up early this morning. I was to accompany my grandfather to his hometown in Pampanga. At eighty plus years old, he is still up and about. He is never idle and might get sick of inactivity. But as the years slowly pass by, I realize that he has few years left remaining in his life.

He could still manage to go travel alone. But still, I egged on my mom that I should go with him. Even if he is still agile, perhaps even more than people a decade younger than he is, I still fear that he should not be left alone traveling that far a distance.

Our first stop was at Bacolor, my grandfather’s hometown. This was the town mostly damaged by lahar during the onslaught of Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption in the 1990s. It’s not as deserted as it has been the last time we saw the place. Some road improvements have been made. New stalls, although still empty, have been developed for the town market. What used to be the upper floor of the old houses is now paved to ground. We never saw any of his relatives, except for some people who knew him long ago. I guess we just went there so he could see the place where he spent his childhood years. We saw the trade school where he studied. As we passed a town statue, he proudly told me that it was his grandfather, a previous mayor of the town. Here I also learned a little bit of history, that Bacolor was previously the capital of Pampanga.

It took us only a few minutes stay, and off we went to see his kuya (older brother) at Angeles City. During our jeepney ride, we both noticed all the changes that have happened in the places we passed by. He used to bring me along to Pampanga when I was still a child, more than two decades ago, driving his yellow Beetle.

When he saw his kuya, there was no much fuss about their greeting. But I am very sure that they are both happy even just to see each other. Both are now bachelors again. His kuya told me that he is now eighty six years old, as he reads the morning paper sans eyeglasses on. They had nothing much to say to each other. Sometimes, the silence is even deafening. But I guess when you’ve reached an age as they have been, and when you’ve been with each other growing up, you don’t need much talk to convey what you feel for one another.

During the short few hours we’ve been there, there are some few things that impressed upon me.

I learned about the hardship my grandfather and his brother have been through. They grew up without a father. My grandfather was still inside his pregnant mother and his brother was just a year old when their father died. It was because of that void that my grandpa wanted that his children would never miss a father's love.

He recalls how, as children, they were raised by their grandmother. I think he mentioned that many times. Perhaps when you reach his age, you either repeat things a lot unconsciously, or you want to put emphasis on some things that are very important to you.

It makes me glad that I accompanied my grandpa. I realize that it gives him a little extra strength to visit his hometown, and to see his brother again. On the other hand, I also feel a bit sad when I try to analyze this trip. There would be not much left for these kinds of visit in the future. Sooner or later, each one of them would not be able to travel. If God would forbid, this could be the last time the brothers may see each other, or the last time my grandpa would ever have a look at his hometown.

It must be important to once in a while, go back to your roots. Visit your kinsmen, and pay respect to your elders. I might pay a visit to Abra one day soon.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

“He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how” - Friedrich Nietzsche

Someone asked me why I think so much of such things concerning my belief. Why not? I myself was surprised to be asked such a question. Why wouldn’t we think of things that matter to our future, even if we might consider it beyond our knowledge? Should we go on living life as if we are just passing by? If that is so, then we are no different from a headless chicken running around without any direction, without any goal.

Isn’t it a dreadful idea to think that we do not have any purpose or meaning at all? Why, even those who don’t believe in God or a creator have sets of ideas, theories or philosophies, and what-have-yous. And to me, however one might put it, that in itself is also a belief.

Neurologist and Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor, attempted to find meaning in life while he was in a Nazi concentration camp. He developed the term logotheraphy or “will to meaning” which states some basic principles that life has a meaning, even the most miserable ones, that our motivation to live is to find a meaning in our life, and that we have freedom to find that meaning in whatever circumstances we are in.

“It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather Cover of Viktor Frankl's book Man's Search for Meaning.  Published by Washington Square Press.  Revised and released October 23, 1984.what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”
What then is the meaning of life? This has been one of the most frequently asked question, which developed different approach and variations. For Frankl, to have a meaning is to have a reason or an object to live. For some scientists, the meaning of life would be to find out where or how life originated. Philosophers and those concerned with ethics ask how we could make this life better, or what is the most virtuous way to live. Religion and spirituality is of course concerned with how we must live this life, and where we would be after this. Thus, I’m surprised at those who either ignore the question or doesn’t even ask it at all. This then leads me to the question of life after this. Or is there such a thing?

I used to memorize Epicurus’ philosophy that “death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist.” I thought it was cool not to be concerned about what happens next. But deep within me is a mixture of wonder and curiosity, fear and doubt. I wondered what must it be to experience death? So I was curious how such an experience could be. But of course I wouldn’t know. Who on earth would know? I didn’t dare attempt to find out either because I was afraid that somehow, something is wrong or missing from Epicurus’ statement. And so I doubted my own doubt. Death does concern me after all.

Again, I’ll borrow from Epicurus’ words but take license to alter it. “Death does concern us, because while we exist, we won’t know when it comes. And when it does come, where are we?”

Think about it.

Going back to my original question, what then is the meaning of my life? What is my purpose? Rick Warren opens his best selling book “The Purpose Driven Life” with the question “What on Earth am I here for?” But the basic tenet of his book, if I may phrase it loosely, is a that God has a generic purpose for us all. That we are designed to worship God, to belong to God’s family of believers, to become like Christ, to serve God and to fulfill God’s mission for us. I do not attempt to disagree with Warren’s model. But not only am I concerned with the “generic” purpose God has designed all of us for, but I am also concerned with the “specific” purpose God has planned for me.

My story is not yet done.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"What can image of Aiden Wilson Tozer, an American Pastor, Preacher and author of Books such as The Pursuit of God, among others.omes to mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
- A.W. Tozer

“Everything in our lives is influenced by our view of God.” - Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade

These are two phrases quoted last April 1 by Pastor Peter. He said that “What we think tells who we are. How we behave is a determinant of what we know of God.” And that what matters is not whether we believe in God, but what we believe about God.

If that’s the case, there is really little difference then for those who do not believe in God and for those who believe in God but has wrong idea about Him. Simply put, all atheists and agnostics could be lumped together with theists who have wrong concept of God. To quote a phrase often made by our pastor “they are sincere, but they are sincerely wrong.”

Pastor Peter cited one wrong view of God in which I’m very much interested to ponder. That is the view that “God is not fair.” My friend Mel and I were just discussing last Sunday about some atheists whose reason not to believe God is because of the existence of evil. They deny the existence of God because for them, if there is a God why then would He allow evil to persist? But the conclusion to eliminate God is already flawed because the question does not deal with God’s existence. In fact, atheists or agnostics who have this rationale already acknowledge God’s existence unknowingly. Their only question then should be of why God allows such evil to persist. But in asking so, wouldn’t one be subject to defining God in his own term?

Whenever we feel the desire to question the fairness of God because ofThree Galaxies and a Comet, an image of the Milky Way Galaxy and Comet McNaught, The Great Comet of 2007, taken from Astronomy Picture of the Day. Credit & Copyright: Miloslav Druckmuller certain events in our lives, consider the words of God in Job 38:1-4: Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind: “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much.”

I have always believed that although God has revealed Himself to us through His Son Jesus Christ, there would still be limitations to our knowledge. Pastor Peter oftentimes illustrate that of an ant (or a bug of the same kind) trying to understand human. We can only know too much. Thus, if God can be fully explained and defined by man, then He is no God at all.

I am not promoting ignorance, neither am I belittling man’s capacity to understand and think. The human brain is such a complex machine to be belittled. On the opposite, I believe we should be like the Bereans (see Acts 17:11) who “received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”

What then is our concept of God?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Acceptance. I guess this word differentiates the message of Christianity more than any other beliefs, more than any other philosophies there are. If other beliefs espouse exclusivity from other people, Christianity cannot do so, and must not do so. I hope that my meaning of acceptance would not be construed to equal compromise. No, Christianity (so must other belief should they believe it’s truthfulness) cannot be and should not be compromised.

The problems we face today emanate from our need to being accepted. Doctrinally, we of course know that this is all because of man’s sin problem. But because of the need to be accepted, we sometimes turn to other albeit mundane and temporal means to fill that void. Drugs, alcohol, nicotine and other abuse would seem to alleviate us of that dilemma. But does it go away? Why, does not even the need to accumulate wealth or be successful in our career oftentimes are results of our desire for acceptance? Don’t we feel accepted whenever we are on stage, and our talents recognized? And when we don’t get that feeling, where do most of us turn to?

Acceptance. This is specifically why the appeal of Christianity towards all genre of humanity is so intense. On the other hand, this is also the same reason why it is deemed by most to be so appalling. The simplicity of its message of forgiveness is sometimes so difficult to accept. Why am I left out to participate in my sanctification? Why can’t I earn my salvation? Am I so pathetic that there is simply nothing I can do on my power to earn it? Where do all of my achievements, the years of hardwork and suffering come into play?

The term “as is where is” is already a commonly accepted phrase in merchandising. This discreetly-worded phrase informs buyers that the merchandize they are buying would not be accepted for return for any defect. The good is sold “as is.” It also informs the buyer that transportation or delivery of the good is not part of the deal, thus “where is.” Whenever you would buy and see a phrase like this, you should be wary that the good you are buying has some defect somewhere. We are like that. Merchandize sold “as is where is.” And Christ accepted us for who we are, in whatever condition we are in.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

"For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin." - Hebrews 4:15

I have always been fascinated by the divinity and humanity of Christ. And some questions related to the above passage remains a mystery to me.

How much temptation could Christ have suffered? Or did he even suffer at all being tempted? And although it says that he was “tempted, yet without sin,” would such temptation have an impact to Christ as to make him have the possibility to commit sin?

Why is it significant that I ask these things? If indeed we have a high priest such as Christ who can sympathize with our weaknesses, how intense was the temptation that he has undergone? Could he relate to the difficulty or the struggle that we do encounter every day, every hour, and even every minute from fighting temptation, in doing good and avoiding evil?

Another question related to this verse is the question of Christ’s divinity. That Christ, being tempted, therefore cannot be God if one reads James 1:13 which says, "Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone." But I will not concern myself on this issue this time in order not to muddle my concern on the depth of Christ’s temptation.

Great controversy has been raised when the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, “The Last Temptation of Christ” was published. This was considered so blasphemous that the Roman Catholic Church included it in it’s List of Prohibited Books (Index Librorum Prohibitorum). Kazantzakis’ depiction of Christ is that of a very passionate and emotional human being whose mission he is trying to understand. In a scene in the dessert, a “snake with the eyes and breasts of a woman” taunted Christ and said “You are afraid of being alone. Your great-grandfather Adam had the same fear. He too shouted for help. His flesh and soul united, and woman emerged from his rib to keep him company.” In the same passage, Christ was being seduced by the serpent with the image of Mary Magdalene. “It’s Magdalene… it’s Magdalene… it’s Magdalene… it’s Magdalene you must save!” the snake hissed imperatively. “Not the Earth – forget about the Earth. It’s her, Magdalene, you must save!”

We all know that Kazantzakis’ novel has no doctrinal basis and is just a figment of his overly and overtly creative imagination. But the question cannot be denied. Has Christ undergone such temptations, or something similar to (if not even worse than) what Kazantzakis has written? Has he ever had the desire for a woman? We know that Christ had great compassion towards people, but has he ever had the same emotion as we have, having the ability to develop anger or rage? Could he have struggled and suffered the way we did? Or did he just brush them off aside casually and unperturbed?

How far could he have sympathized with us?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

“If there is some end of the things we do...will not knowledge of it, have a great influence on life? Shall we not, like archers who have a mark to aim at, be more likely to hit upon what we should? If so, we must try, in outline at least, to determine what it is.” - Aristotle

Life passes us by as if it was a television show without reruns. Once you miss on a show, you won’t have it replayed anymore. I remember then when there was only local channels and no cable tv. Whenever we used to watch a favorite program, I wouldn’t even attempt to leave the room even during commercial breaks for fear of missing out on a very important part of the program.

Another year has passed, and another year added to an age. But who’s counting anyway? Why would we be counting the days except just to reminisce about the past? Summer is just beginning, but what makes today different from months ago? I was just listening to Christmas tunes two days ago anyway. I would tell you the difference.

The difference between today and yesterday is that as we move on with life, we should tend to improve on it. Most people say that we should learn from our mistakes. But I say we should learn even more from our achievements . How can we learn from our past then if we don’t recognize the wrong or good we have done? Or what good is it if we only recognize the wrong and not the good?

Socrates said, “an unexamined life is not worth living.” How then should we proceed in examining our life? I could go on and say that the life I lived is a good one. But the “good” life I had may not be “good” compared to what you had. Yours could even be better or worst than mine. So what should be our standard in examining our life then?

The question of what is good and what is bad has been a question of morality since man has been gifted the ability to think. I use the word “gifted” because I recognize that this ability is not of our own. But then again, that would be a different topic.

If I may continue after I interrupted my own thought process. I realize that people have the need to go back, at least once in a while to their past. I realize that people have the need to compare their life to others. I realize that people have the need to at least once in a while, stop with what is keeping them busy at the moment. It is no wonder why people on every occasion go on a vacation, “retreat” or a pilgrimage.

As I step back and review my life, I would say that I had a slow, direct yet unpredictable life. I wanted so much but had so few, but who didn’t? I had the constant need to trust a supernatural force called God, yet also had the temerity to doubt and question His very existence. I still have a long way to go, and it will be an interesting journey.

As we examine our life, we should ask ourselves, “am I missing the mark set before me?” Aim well.