Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sunday Reflection: By Rev. Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD


By Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD
Last updated 02:44am (Mla time) 08/26/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- The story is told about a farmer’s wife who had twin daughters. The first one was named “Kate.” And the second one was just named “Duplikate.”

* * *

In today’s Gospel (Lk. 13, 22-30) the Lord reminds us that God’s standards and measures are beyond our limited and often shortsighted standards and measures. “Some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” In God’s eyes, there are no duplicates or copycats.

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Indeed, God’s ways are not man’s ways. That which we consider ordinary may be extraordinary in God’s eyes, and vice versa. There is no way we can put God in a box, neither can we make Him according to our own image and likeness. Let God be God, let man be man.

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Fr. Vicente Manuel, SVD was just an “ordinary” student in Christ the King Seminary by worldly standards. This shy probinsiyano from Calintaan, Occidental Mindoro had no chance to excel in a class that was studded with gifted and talented personalities. In fact, he literally had to go through the “narrow gate” to make it to the priesthood because of academics. But in 1983, this ordinary student became local ordinary of the Vicariate of San Jose Occidental Mindoro, the first bishop from their class.

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Bishop Manuel, SVD, D.D. died last Aug. 18, 2007. He was then an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Cebu. But more than the office, we remember the person. More than achievements, we remember moments. Because God’s ways are not man’s ways, whenever we look at people, we must not judge; neither must we just throw accolades. In the end, we leave everything in God’s mercy and love.

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By the way, a bishop is called the “ordinary” of a place. Bishop Manuel was an ordinary “ordinary” in the sense that he was not exceptional or unusual. But he was very personal. In the words of his classmate Fr. Willy Villegas, SVD, he was a very positive and supportive person. Come to think of it, that’s all we ask of people who lead us.

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God sees the heart. This is our consolation. For if God only sees the looks, the plaques, the medals, the wallets, etc., then most of us will be discouraged and dismayed. Most of us live ordinary lives, but it is heartening to know that God judges us not by our achievements or by our plans, but by the love we have shared while doing ordinary things, living ordinary lives.

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Why is it that we have the tendency to inspect and suspect a person while he/she is still around, and respect him/her when he/she is gone? Instead of judging, instead of comparing, instead of condemning, let us all work out our salvation.

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There is a story about a skydiving student who asked his instructor: “Sir, what if I dive, and the parachute does not open?”

“Son, that is what we call jumping to conclusion,” the instructor replied.

Don’t we all play that deadly game sometimes?

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There is a beautiful line in the “Desiderata” that says: “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always, there will be lesser or greater persons than yourself.” How true. We spend a lot of energy on useless imaginings and fruitless bickerings.

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And what do we say to those who think they are exceptional and extraordinary, and who expect to be treated accordingly? You’re not! It’s just your illusion. You too will grow old, you too will fade, you too will die. Death is the great equalizer and we all will have a final reckoning, and we all will pass through the final and ultimate Bureau of Customs and Bureau of Immigration at the gate of heaven. Sorry, no blinkers, no sirens will be allowed there.

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Let me end with a story I heard about a conceited politician (aren’t most of them?) who visited an old folk’s home. He was welcomed by everyone except by an old man in a corner sitting on his wheelchair.

The politician stopped and asked him “Don’t you know who I am?”

The old man just stared at him.

For the second time the politician asked him: “Don’t you know who I am?”

This time the old man looked at him and said: “No, but you can ask the nurses. They have a file on each one of us.”

In the end, it’s not who we think we are, or who others think we are, but who we are to God that matters. He has the final say, the final file.

* * *

Inviting you to a pilgrimage to Akita, Japan and Naju, Korea on Oct. 17-27. For particulars, please call 5238581 to 88.

There will be another pilgrimage to Naju, Korea on Nov. 14-20. For more details, please call 9130388, 9111394, 09202866810.

* * *

A moment with the Lord:

Lord, remind me that there is peace and beauty in being simple and ordinary. Amen.

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