God’s Gift of Love, Obedience and Friendship: Her Experience In the Philippines
MUTC’s good friend, Ms. Wenn, spent her vacation in the Philippines late last year, quite a long respite from her hectic work schedule in the Big Apple. Originally, she was about to fly back much earlier to NYC, where she’s based, however, many things have happened in their hometown which made her extend her leave until now. It seems God has tasked her with a mission to help some of her townmates who are suffering from the effect of this terrible Covid-19 virus. Thus, the vacay extension was worth the stay, as she was given the opportunity to be a good neighbor, to be a good follower of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We have learned by now, hopefully, that during Easter time ( we still have one Easter day remaining, until tomorrow, the 23rd), one of God’s gifts to us is the opportunity to be true followers of Christ, to be real Christians. Our Lord Jesus would like us to see the Easter spirit in us, that kind of spirit which gives us a brighter side and hope to our personal and spiritual life – a spirit that is cheerful, courageous and refreshed, committing ourselves anew to the Risen Lord.
One of the Sunday Gospels this month of May puts emphasis on “love”, “obedience” and “friendship” as ways and means to show our faithfulness to God. John 15:9-17 states: “Jesus said to his disciples: As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”
The foregoing pronouncement of our Lord Jesus Christ appears straightforward yet it is also a powerful gift which He promised to all of us. Basically, our Lord is merely telling us to faithfully love Him so we can be filled with joy and be friends with Him. However, there is a certain proviso, i.e., to obey His commandments. This is such a concrete command with an accompanying obligation and responsibility on our part, to do what is required of us, so as to get the reward waiting for us if and when we will be successful in our quest for goodness until the end.
So, we need to ask ourselves the following hows: How can we better live Christ’s commandment of love? How can we remain faithful and obedient friend to God? How do we gain the reward of eternal life?
God wants us to be charitable to everyone. Remember the 2 greatest commandments that our Lord Jesus Christ has spoken of? He wants us to love God and to love one another. Time and again, our Lord Jesus Christ is reminding us to show our love for Him by being obedient to what He has commanded us. His love for us is immeasurable just like the love of God the Father to Him. This is how deep the love that our Lord has for us because He cannot simply let us go and be away from Him.
As Christians, we are Jesus Christ followers and we are bound duty to keep and follow His rules. However, while Jesus is simply calling us to keep His commands, He is also trying to impress upon us the challenge of a difficult task ahead of us, to obey His will. Keeping God’s commandments will always be demanding and would require a great deal of effort from our side. In fact, it would require sacrifices from us, to the extent of even having a radical change of our lifestyle, a 180-degree turn but ending up living with an amazingly inspired spiritual life. By being obedient, Jesus made an assurance that everything would be worth it, since a wonderful gift is awaiting for those who have heeded His call at the end of the day.
In today’s busy world even amidst the pandemic, some of us are still preoccupied with acquiring material richness and achieving our goals in life. We worked several hours to earn money for daily sustenance. These daily norms goes on and on which makes everyone busy everyday of their lives, ignoring the most essential that God wants from us.
Most of us have the perception that the more money we have, the more we can achieve our goals and have a happy life. There’s no doubt about this, as money makes the world go round, so they say! With money, we can buy everything we want, travel anywhere we go and we can do anything we like. Yup, these good things that are happening to us are considered as God’s blessings. But in most cases, we use wealth for our own independent whims, causing us stress, anxiety and even broken families and relationships. In fact, some people spend their money to satisfy their personal wants and desires, all for selfish gains, and that’s where material riches become an impediment to our spiritual growth. And so with the pandemic that we are now facing, everything, including money, has limitations. Some of the moneyed people are unable to travel and go abroad to spend holidays with loved ones and go shopping what they want and where they would like to. Some who have been used to clubbing, partying and boozing with their closest of friends are prevented to go bar hopping during this pandemic. Have we pondered about this yet that this pandemic could be a sign or a reminder for us to treasure and utilize our blessings (time, talent and treasure or the 3Ts) in a proper way. Perhaps, it is telling us on how to keep God’s commandments and relive His words in our hearts through our actions by sharing our treasures and reaching out to those in dire need, those who have nothing to eat, those whose jobs have been lost, those who are sick and the downtrodden.
During this pandemic, everyone is on home recess, not much activity is going on. We all know that Covid-19 pandemic continues to devastate communities and has claimed millions of lives around the globe and the Philippines is one of those currently ravaged by it. Going back to Ms.Wenn’s experience, her hometown has been placed as one of the country’s “areas of concern” due to increasing trend of Covid 19 positive cases. She encountered some unfortunate events in their place that made her realize how precious it is to utilize her 3Ts in obedience to God’s will. Apart from being a busy body on various domestic issues in her own home, she made it a point to be of service to others.
Being a choir member in NYC, she continued to share her talent in singing and joined the choir in their local parish church. Unfortunately, the choir group faced some challenges, 5 of her choirmates got infected with Covid-19 virus and one of them passed away. There was no other recourse but to help them as most of them are financially unstable. At first, she sent out Vitamin C and fruits to those who have heart-wrenching situation. But it was not just enough. She then sought the help of her friends in NYC, particularly her fellow officers and friends at the CDO/MisOr Association of NY, and solicited donations meant for the people who are sick with Covid-19 virus and are hard up for cash to settle hospital bills.
This unfortunate situation takes toll on her as it made her not only emotionally but physically and financially drained as well. But she persisted and called on to God in her prayers to guide and help her in her cause. She felt that as a Christian (a follower of Christ), it is her responsibility and an obligation to help these people, so that they won’t feel alone and abandoned. Fortunately, some of her friends positively responded to her call. She utilized the donated funds to purchase some staple goods, just like what other community pantries are doing in other places.
She distributed ½ sack of rice with groceries for each family and in some instances, she sent prepaid loads to those who have nothing in their pockets for emergency telephone calls’ use.
And what did she receive in return? It was outstanding! The people’s happy faces, their sincere gratitude, amazing and overjoyed reactions were worth the effort. It made her very happy, and she thanked God for everything, for the opportunity to help others and for those people who partnered with her in extending helping hands to those in need.
On this month of May, we remember the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, the foster parents of our Lord Jesus Christ for their “obedience” to the will of God. While initially they were both afraid and and hesitated to handle the heavy responsibility, their hearts were already disposed to free and perfect obedience, completely surrendering to God everything due to their strong faith and love for Him.
God wants to share with us His Kingdom in Heaven so we can experience eternal life and happiness. Hence, the word of God in the Scriptures always reminds us to do good things and be the best we can be. Being obedient to God’s commands is one advise from Jesus Christ that we need to heed. It’s not just a virtue but there’s a treasure in it, in fact,wondrous riches surrounding it. As much as possible, we should strive very hard to follow God’s rules.
Lastly, let us pray to our loving and generous God that He’ll grant us the strength and purity of heart not to base our decisions on our own will but to consider what Jesus commands us to do, specifically on love, obedience and friendship to God. As Jesus said, “if you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love”, and “you are my friends if you do what I command you”. So far, that’s what Ms. Wenn did during her stay in their hometown and hopefully she will continue to help others anywhere she will be in the world.
MUTC is glad to have helped Ms. Wenn in some of her charitable advocacy in the humblest way they can.