October 06, 2017


Who is the least stressed driver in the world? The funeral car driver. Why? He is not in a hurry, he is not affected by the flow of traffic, and most of all, he does not have to put up with a back-seat driver!

In today’s Gospel (Mt. 18:21-35), Jesus teaches us about forgiveness and reconciliation. Hatred, revenge and refusing to forgive cause so much stress and sadness. Take the road of humility and reconciliation, and you are free. Again, humility, humility, humility is the key.

“Anger does more damage to the vessel in which it is stored than to the vessel in which it is poured.” How true. We have a choice: to forgive and be free, or not to forgive and be angry, stressed and depressed.

Are you an unforgiving person? Are you an exacting person? Maybe you have your reasons, your standards and your expectations. But ask yourself: How many times have I been forgiven by God, without conditions, and without expectations? We can pray: Lord, You have forgiven me so many times. Help me to do likewise.

Think of the worst and most disgusting person(s) in your life right now whom you dislike or even hate so much that you almost wish him/her to die soon, and go to hell to be punished by God. Stop the downslide and level up by offering that person to God. Leave him/her in God’s heart, pray for his/her conversion. Release the matter from your hands, surrender, and let God’s power take over.

To forgive doesn’t mean saying “It did not happen.” Neither does it mean saying “It did not hurt.” To forgive is to say “That which happened, and which hurt, will no longer become a wall between you and me.” By all means let us go for justice, but by all means let us also be open to understanding, mercy and compassion.

The late Fr. Among Ricafort, SVD, had disappointments, complaints, and outbursts of anger regarding issues, people and events in our society, our country, and the world. But after he had said his piece, he would always end up saying, with a wave of his hand: “Ah, it’s all right.” Let us learn to let go and to let God. Let us carry no burdens, and travel light.

Fr. Pabs Tagura, SVD, one of those formed by Father Among, wrote a eulogy from faraway Divine Word College in Iowa in the United States: “I am now almost 30 years in the priesthood, and I have always looked up to Among with so much respect and high regard, especially with the way he handled himself with dignity, and the inspiration he provided with his faithfulness to his religious-missionary life as a priest.”

Please remember that our life is a constant call to get out of our comfort zones, and a constant effort to go the “extra mile,” where grace abounds, and where even God smiles.

Sept. 23 is the feast of St. Padre Pio, one of the most present and most active modern-day saints. He is well-known for many miracles and healing, but he is most remembered as the confessor saint, spending so many hours of the day hearing the confessions of so many pilgrims from all over the world. He was a man of peace and reconciliation which we need so much in our country and in our world right now.

My uncle, Fr. Jesuito Mendoza, OFM Cap, had the privilege of going to confession to Padre Pio in Italy in the early 1960s. He told me how Padre Pio knew everything about him, and saw through him. His encounter with Padre Pio was a religious experience and a life-changing moment. Whether to Padre Pio or to less worthy priests like me, make that good confession and go home to the embrace of our loving Father.

On a personal note, let me share that I was close to tears when my brother Tim handed me my Vademecum, a prayer book that was given to me when I was 12 years old and a first year high school seminarian at Christ the King Seminary. I was so happy to have it back. I thought I had lost it. It turned out that Mama kept it in one of her boxes. It was a reminder for me that God’s love is never gone. No matter how lost, no matter how long, He will find us, and embrace us.

A moment with the Lord:

Lord, help us to forgive others as You

(Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sept. 17, 2017)

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