By By Rev. Fr. Rommel M. Arcilla
posted 26-Sep-2019  ·  
328 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

One Saturday evening, while exchanging messages with a former seminary rector who is now assigned overseas, words of gratitude suddenly came out spontaneously for all the support he had given me when I was still a seminarian. I really felt the need to verbalize how I appreciated the way he guided me to love the priesthood and to always find my way back into loving it every time I got lost along the way. We had a good chat and that was really inspiring for me to realize that I have someone out there, a person of authority, and a holy one, who is always praying for me.

In that exchange of messages, what struck me most was how in his wisdom born out of prayer saw a parallelism between the Gospel reading last Sunday, 24th Week in Ordinary Time, which is about the Prodigal Son, and my life. I was really hit that I couldn’t do otherwise but to reflect and realize in the end that, indeed, he’s got a reason for saying that my life is like that of the prodigal son.

In my 19 years of ministry as a priest, I might really have squandered most of the graces and chances God had given me in order to grow in the ministry. That is why a lot of friends turned their backs against me, not because of what they did, but simply because I was not deserving of their friendship. Many parishioners too got disillusioned with the way I behaved as a priest and I could really blame no one but me. I did not just know how to appreciate the valuable gifts God had given to me.

Somewhere along the way, however, I still believe that God would never allow any soul to be lost forever so He gave me extra-chances to be able to go back to Him and share once more in His priestly life and ministry. There were some realizations that really helped me get on my feet and ask for forgiveness so He could allow me to serve Him again in that Altar of Sacrifice.

I know I am getting old and rusty, but I am not sharing all these because I am afraid of the punishment in that fiery furnace. Of course, I don’t want to be there but I just want to appreciate God’s goodness towards me and maybe share that goodness to others who are still blinded by worldly and material things.

“I am not a perfect person”, as the song goes, but I am slowly trying to pull out    those imperfections in me one step at a time. I believe this is the way of holiness God reserved for me long ago, my own “imitation of Christ”.

God knows our limitations and I know He understands each one of us, that we have that sinner in us. Though this should never be an excuse because we are all invited to rise above our sinful selves and be like Him no matter how late or slow we do it.

Our present situation in this country though is not friendly to those who are struggling to be better persons and to those who are trying to detach themselves from sinfulness. Sometimes ideas and mentalities devoid of God, not to mention those equally retarded leaders that we have, can just put us down deeper into our own self-centeredness and sinfulness.

Contemporary happenings invite us many times to shout and long for change that seems to be so elusive, if not impossible. How can we remain calm and at peace when injustice sets in, where the rapists and murderers plus those robbers are recommended to be set free and those who are simply fighting for their rights and speaking what is true are the ones who get jailed? It is so very hard to become a saint in these turbulent times in our history. It is far easier to just flow with the tide of corruption, injustice and just embrace the culture of death.

But be that as it may, that is not the Christian way of doing things. We must all stand up and live by the dictates and inspiration of our faith.

Maybe what we need now is not a personal act of penance but a communal one. Maybe as a nation we are given these challenges for us to become united and go back to our loving God and tell Him that we are sorry for squandering those blessings that He had given us as a people. Maybe we can join hands and ask forgiveness for those people who perpetuated the murder of the lowly ones without fair trial. Maybe we need to ask for forgiveness for those misguided minds who thought that it’s fine to grab the lands of farmers for their own benefit. Maybe we need to pray for the conversion of our leaders who are like roaring lions ready to devour even those who are already serving their time in prison cells. Lastly, maybe we need to pray also for some confused individuals especially those who are thinking that they have all the rights to distort how God created them as males or as females.

We no longer deserve to be called His sons and daughters for we have squandered every precious gift God has given us.

My dear friends, it is but right and fitting that we join hands in prayer, as brothers and sisters, and as a nation, and ask our Father to forgive us. He will always be our forgiving Father, for as long as we know how to say we are so sorry and are walking the way to amend ourselves. Something, which deep in my heart, I long and pray to continuously happen in me, and which, I ask for your prayers.

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