Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Of Incomes, Expenses and Life In General

Life has always been challenging me.. Yet amidst those challenges, I stood up and proved that I can do it. Yet God allows certain events in my life to constantly remind of the value of humility. It was during my prime years in my current pharmaceutical company that I experienced triumphs and successes in my entire career as a pharmaceutical representative. I took awards most coveted by medical representatives. I withstood all of them when it comes to total sales in peso value.. Yet I still feel incomplete.

I know a lot of people get envious. Not to brag my name but they always tell me how fortunate I am to have this kind of job. A job that gives me more than enough of what I need. They see me driving a car, stunningly dressed in long sleeves and slacks, having a decent house, someone who can buy whatever he wants, can travel to different places, joined a company that can take me abroad and experience a life in luxury at least for a 5 day annual convention a year... They see me with them. And I feel grateful to the Lord that these gifts are given to me...

They just see the externalities of me. They haven't seen the reality that I have to pay for my housing amortization that cover half of my monthly take home pay. Then pay the bills, electricity, internet, water, cellphone and so much more. not to mention the chains of having a credit card. All of these are skeletons hidden in my closet. Yet I still wondered how did I manage to survive. With every income that gets into my pocket, all the more will I pick out on my other pocket. You see expenses do come and go and the more that I earn, the more I spend.

I really do not have that mentality of saving money. They see me living a decent life but I can really vouch that somebody who's envious of my life gets a lot more in his passbooks than mine. I do not have a savings. I have a bank account though, but it seldom gets deposits.. more on withdrawals. And still I ask myself.. Is this still the life that I want to live up to the next 10 or 20 years? You should congratulate me, I paid 6 years straight, without any arrears, my housing loan. That would give me 19 more years left to finally pay my housing amortization. I would be 50 years old by that time. Sick enough to take a rest in this house and sick enough to allocate the house payments to cover for my medications.

Yet the question still bothers. Is this what life has to offer? I don't know. I still live one day at a time. I do save a little, I have my life insurance, though not that big premium, but enough to cover an entire chemotherapy if i get cancer, which i pray to God no. I still do dream of the seminary. The community life, The life of a religious. I think that is really my direction in life. I don't dream of having a family, kids and a wife.. no not really. I just want to live a decent life. I have my own house, I can buy the food that I want, pay my hospital bills, and live a comfortable life. I don't know if I can get this. I pray.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

John Allen's Mega Trend: A Common Man's Response

Perhaps one of the most famous lines that made it to trend in the recent Oscars was that of Neil Patrick Harris’ opening lines: "Tonight we honor today’s best and whitest…” However, after reading John Allen’s 10 mega-trends shaping the Catholic Church, Harris’ famous line may be said only in reference to the Church’s past. Today what could be referred as the Church’s best and whitest times are only part of Church annals. Time has changed, new trends creeping in, many things are new and so is the color that fills the Church today.
Color Change
Gone are the days when missioners would only mean Caucasians; when the Roman Catholic Church is synonymous to something western; and the Church’s perspective is seen only in Rome. Gone are the days when European churches are overflowing with people to the extent that it overflowed to developing countries to share their abundant faith in mission agentesNowadays these churches are empty and the Church’s pecuniary condition is also running empty due to major abuses and blunders made by the clergy.
Perhaps this era may be considered the Church’s “darkest” times in post-modern history because of the offenses made by the clerics that erupted in the west. However, this “darkest” times could mean not only to refer to the stigma caused by abuses but also because the hope of the Church today shines brightest not among the best and whitest but the poorest and “darkest” people of this world. Perhaps the color change happening in the Church today from White Caucasian to sun-kissed Asians and dark Africans may be a reflection of the revolution that is going on within the Church. It is a manifestation of the change that is on-going within - from the triumphalist and elitist Church to a Church that is more service-oriented and sensitive to the needs of the poor; from a Church that speaks from the perspective of the comfortable first world to a Church that preaches mercy and compassion and responsive to the situation of poverty, oppression and injustice of developing countries.
Color change is indeed inevitable. Changed has not only occurred in colors of complexions but also in the color of outer garments. Gone are the days when men garbed in white hold monopoly to the truths of divinity. Nowadays with the rise of lay empowerment and involvement in the Church white garbs are no longer the predominant color in the Church’s ministry but it is one among the many different colors worn by the laity who work hand-in-hand with the clergy and religious in proclaiming the gospel ever anew.  
The Color of the World
With the color change that has become inevitable in the Church, the world we are in now has also become so diverse, so wide and so colorful. If we look around many of the things that are happening were only once considered science fiction. What the Church has attempted to respond and address in the past by way of providing theological reflections and moral guidelines can no longer be seen as black and white. At present situations and experiences of people can no longer be narrowed to either black or white. There are lots of gray areas now and the shades of these gray areas are wider and wilder than the fifty shades of grey. 
Think of bio-ethical issues. Consider gender differences. Reflect on the many realities happening in cyber space. Think of the quality of human relationships vis-à-vis the existence of social media, the internet and smart gadgets. Consider the megatrends shaping the Catholic Church. Where would the Church situate herself now in this wide and diverse situation of the world and human life?
The Common Man Re-Imagining the World
Perhaps in the Church’s “darkest” of times, we honor with gratitude the best times that happened in the history of the Church made by the “whitest” and well educated people of the Church. However, cognizant of the color change that is happening perhaps the Church can bank on the new color that fills her to respond to a more colorful context that confronts her.  This can be done by allowing new voices to be heard, by listening to the voices of the common people that builds the Church today, and permitting this people coming from developing countries to re-imagine the face of the Church in this complex and diverse world that she is in right now.
As the famous dictum goes, Vox Populi Vox Deimaybe the time has come for the Church to listen to what her people is saying and not saying; maybe it is time for her to allow her people to speak and allow the Spirit to work within them and contribute in the shaping of the Church; perhaps the time has come for the Church to allow the needs and concerns of the common man to be heard. If there is somebody that is so affected by these mega trends it is not the Church hierarchy, it is not the rich but the common man- the faceless, nameless common man who struggles to survive and live this complex world.
Abraham Lincoln once said “God must love the common man, He made so many of them. God has indeed loved the common man and He speaks to them through their struggles, through their plights, through the everyday complexities they face day in and day out. And for the Church to respond to the complex world, she needs to listen to God speaking through the common man. 
I say this using the language of the common man with much respect to the Church who has moulded and nurtured me. I say this as a common man who speaks on behalf of all common people who continues to struggle the complexities of the gray areas of life: “Kung hindi mo maibahagi ang sariling kulambo, makibahagi sa kagat ng lamok. Kung hindi mo maibahagi ang sariling payong, makibahagi sa patak ng ulan.” Only when the Church is able to listen, share and understand the concerns of the common man, will she be able to allow the common to participate in the re-imagining of the Church today; only then will she be able to empower the common man to become her evangelizers; only then will the Church be able to respond to the colourful trends that confronts her and only then will she be able to let the new colors sneaking in her shine brightest in her “darkest” times. 
With all these megatrends and the big words that theologians are talking about these days, in the future when we shall have seen the bigger picture and the common man is heard and has participated in the re-imagining of the church, perhaps all these megatrends with just be trivial and people will just laugh at its pettiness. As the famous line of Virgil in Aeneid goes, “Perhaps one day, these things will be a pleasure to recall.”

Who Do You Say I Am? My Christological Perspective

I grew up with a clear understanding that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Savior. As a student of a non-sectarian school, we were not really taught of who really is Jesus Christ. I transferred to a Catholic school for High School, and then this question is not anymore given thorough emphasis. It is a grave sin to ask this question because we were expected to know that He is our savior, He died for our sins, He is the only begotten Son, one in the Father and etc. Nobody even dared to question why He is our savior. As a student it’s a heresy to verify if Christ really died for our sins. We were just given instructions and mandate that Jesus Christ is our Savior and He is the Son of God. That’s it.
Though the inculcation of the doctrine of our faith, from our parents and teachers, greatly contributed to my concept of Jesus Christ, it was only when I left the seminary and studied Theology that this question has been answered. In our course in Christology, I have come to a realization that I really do not know who is Jesus Christ. I was scandalized and became confused, particularly on the question of His necessity. Is He really necessary in our life? Does Christ really take part on our salvation? What differed Him from the great men of our times, the likes of Ninoy Aquino, Jose Rizal or even Heneral Luna? The more I studied and tried to understand Christ the more questions and confusions did it bring to me.
I would like to take as my starting point of my reflection on the Christological perspective of the Triplex Munos. This evolves on the threefold mission of Christ. Christ being a priest, a king, and as a prophet. As priest Christ made himself an ultimate sacrifice for our salvation. I can remember in one of our discussions the question that; is it really necessary for Jesus Christ to be the sacrifice? In my humble understanding it was necessary for Jesus Christ to be the ransom for our salvation because it takes only a person such as Jesus Christ, the only Son of the Father, to do this. Only a God like the Father could do this for us. Only a person, one with the Father could be the ultimate sacrifice for the payment of our sins. We can offer anything, lamb for the Jews, chicken, pig, or even cow but it does not surpass the great offering, One like Him, Jesus Christ.
Jesus came to be human just like us. Though He is a King he came to serve and not to be served. He showed a great example for us, by being a person just like us to. Jesus’ kingly mission is a call for us to follow. He is the ultimate example of what service really means. We are called to be persons of service. As human beings, I tend to think that I am higher than others. I always seek for special treatment, most especially in the way I act in our home. I can consider myself as the bred-winner of my house and I could say that I deserve to have the special attention from my family. Yet here is this Man, the Man who not only changed the perspective of service but deconstructed it. He showed me the clear example that as an individual, it is okay not to think of yourself first but to think of others. As Christians we are called to do the same- to be selfless, humble and to be of service to other.
The prophetic mission of Christ denounced every form of evil and He gave witness to the life of the Gospel. In our discussion, however, I have started to question the reality of evil. What is evil then? Is evil a necessity for me to know Christ? I don’t know, but what I am certain of is that Christ denounced the evils of His time. He denounced the hypocrisies of the Pharisees; he fought against injustice, and gave hope for the sick, widows, and sinners. The evils of Jesus Christ are not different from our times. The evil still continues and the challenge of Jesus Christ continues as well. That is to denounce the evil of our time. In my personal life I am always confronted with different forms of evil. The injustices that are taking place in my workplace. Most especially when the managers and top management makes decisions that are not giving us the proper compensations and benefits, I for one speak in fornt of them to denounce and seek for what is just for us. The prophetic mission of Christ invites us to be a prophet, a prophet that challenges to the evils of our time. Jesus continues to challenge us to follow Him, not just a meek and mild lamb but as a prophet who denounces every form of evil. Jesus Christ who renounces every form of inequality and criticizes every form of oppression.
Amidst these images of Christ as a priest, a king and a prophet I would like to settle on the reality that Christ for me as my Father of Mercy and Compassion. Just this year I was very fortunate to be in Manila and be part of the youth delegates in the Pope’s meeting with the youth. Pope Francis gave me a clear understanding of what Jesus Christ is. Jesus Christ is my father, a father that does not look on my differences, short comings, failures and sins. He is a father for me who looks at me and still be amused with what I do. Will still find happiness in my actions, that even if I do not religiously follow the rules and doctrine of the Church he founded, yet He still finds me worthy of being a human. Jesus for me is continuously challenging me to become a good person yet he does not reject me if I fail to follow what He wants. He still has hope in me even if most of the time I follow what I want. Many times I feel guilty with what I do because most of them are not in accordance to the doctrine and teachings of the Church. Yet there is this Man, Jesus Christ, who says that its okay you don’t have to be guilty because I have loved you long before those teachings and this love is enough for you to be with me till the end of times. This was my realization during that short encounter with the Pope. It was very heart-warming to see the Pope hugging the street children who have come to realize that there is no more hope on their situation. His gesture of hug was an image showing that Jesus is not blind of our heartaches, trials, and injustices. He is there to give me that hug, as a gesture of mercy and compassion, and asking me to follow Him in the ways that I know. I don’t have to be strict to myself to follow what the Church really wants but I can be who I am and still be delightful to Him. Bottom line is, in the end I will still face Christ alone. And when He would ask me what I have done with my life, I will take hold on the fact that I have accepted His challenge in the way I know and in the way that I could. I don’t have to change my being me just to follow You, because I know that You have loved me unconditionally and everything else followed.


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