Laying The Foundation: The “Ber” Months On The 2nd Year of The Pandemic
The Ber Months has just officially started and the excitement for the upcoming holidays are still being felt by most of us, even if the holiday celebration could be gutted by this Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the hectic hustles on their daily grinds, “influencers” and those active in social media platforms and even those in tri-media have not failed to acknowledge the “Chrismassy” feeling (that the Ber months bring) by reacting on related posts and playing their best Christmas playlist to kick-off and cheer the holiday season.
Even at this phase of my life, the first day of September still provides me a positive vibe, at least psycologically. I can still feel the enthusiasm and the anticipation of the holidays just like the good old days! Certainly, preparations for the holidays are still there, figuring out when to pull out, put up and decorate the annual Christmas tree together with the lights and ornaments, and most of all thinking about the family bonding and the joy it brings. All of these, though how shallow and over-hyped it maybe to some, the “hype” related to it still makes me feel good and happy!
While the excitement for the Ber months is still alive, although on another level, there is also a feeling of calmness that goes with it. I dont know, perhaps it is not only me who have encounterered this but others too. The Ber months give me some sense of peace and purpose probably because of the meaningful holiday celebrations attached to it such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year, among others. For the nth time, we will be commemorating the first coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, i.e., the birth of Jesus during Christmas with a reminder for us to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ, and that is the spiritual aspect of the Ber months for me. Whatever is happening to the world today, this global Covid-19 pandemic for instance could be one of the reminders for everyone to make good this time, and could be an opportunity for us to renew our lives, an opportunity that should be availed of and should not be missed. Thus, it is but timely and relevant for us to “lay the foundation” on: 1) how to be more faithful to God, and, 2) on how to be living examples to others. Both of these capture the two greatest commandments of God.
But how can we lay the said foundation? How can we concentrate on our spiritual growth and in our relationship with God amidst the pandemic and other challenges?
The Gospel reading during the 1st day of the Ber months pertains to the start of our Lord Jesus’ public ministry when He performed healing miracles to various sick people in Capernaum, including St. Peter’s mother who was suffering from severe fever. These healing performances caught the attention of the people especially those who have been cured by Him. Because of Jesus’ impressive healing works, the people turned back to Him, they have learned to love Him and became His faithful followers in the end.
Under the said Gospel’s narrative, our Lord Jesus made an impact on people’s lives. He was able to achieve His objective of spreading the Good News and the Kingdom of God, far and wide. How about us who are still on earth? Was there an instance where our dear Lord God has gotten our attention that made Him grant us the grace of a “desire”, at least to listen to and obey His teachings? Or, have we experienced the same miracles from our Lord Jesus Christ whenever we seek and plea for His help, to touch us with His loving hands for healing and strength? Certainly, there have been tons of instances where some of us have experienced God’s healing power. I myself can attest to this. Through fervent prayers and tears, our Lord Jesus has done great things for me and our family, not only physically but spiritually as well. He granted us the strength to withstand and overcome the challenges, and to which we are so very grateful. And, all these blessings lay an important foundation in our faith journey: it deepened our trust in Him, made our family stronger and taught us to depend entirely on God.
The world is still in turbulent times as it continues to suffer from this Covid-19 pandemic. This terrible virus has been lingering for almost 2 years now. Because of this, people have been experiencing not only fatigue and mental health, but they are also struggling with their spiritual well being. Have we learned something out of these challenges? How do we encourage ourselves to be good followers of Christ, to have a clean and modest lives? How can we make use of the “Ber” months to grow, to make ourselves productive, and most of all to establish a solid foundation based on God even in the midst of these trying times?
Firstly, we have to have that “desire” for God in our hearts. This is the basic and essential ingredient to have a closer relationship with God. Specifically for some of us who have yet to make friends with God, we can start with the basics by knowing Him, who is He in our lives. Otherwise, we may neither be able to fix ourselves nor to tread the right path if we do not have the “desire” to start up with. If we have no desire at all no matter how hard we try, we can ask God for it. The desire for God is like building our faith and trust in Him. You see, we can’t just acquire faith from ourselves, from others, or from anywhere. Faith is a grace from God and the “desire” for God emanates from God.
Secondly, we have to discern and evaluate ourselves. We have to go into ourselves and check where are our shadows, so to speak. What areas in our lives need improvement? How and where can we do good? We may be struggling getting over with hardships, bad relationships and even vices in life. We maybe holding on to anger, hatred and pride (lots of hubris in social media), or grappling with addiction to alcohol, drugs, sex or pornography, or even experiencing enmity in family and community we belong. The point is, we have to have the virtue of humility to accept our shortcomings, limitations and weaknesses. We have to pray for this grace, as bowing down our heads and asking for forgiveness is a hard thing to do. Surely, we cannot change the world, we cannot change everything and we cannot change ourselves overnight, but WE CAN, one step at a time. We just have to wait. And so, we need patience to learn how to wait for God’s response. What is good is that we have already the “desire”, the desire to need God, the God who performed healing miracles, the God who cast out demons, and the God who created and saved us. If we already have that desire in our hearts, then in time, something good will happen to us. And so, in the forthcoming months, we can still be merry and look forward to the joyful holiday celebrations. (Yes, we can still put on our make-up with the foundation as the base to look good and add colors to our natural self!). But of course, we have to continue do good works to our fellowmen especially during this difficult time. No matter how hard some of us have been through, no matter how many times we stumble, we should still be able to smile and be grateful. We just have to keep going according to God’s plan.
Pope Francis, in his latest homilies and prayers, reminded us to reflect on how to live the faith and to strive hard to put Christ at the center of our lives. The Holy Father advised us “not to waste time polluting the world with complaints” as complaining leads us to anger, bitterness, resentment and sadness which closes the door to God. Instead, we have to ask God to purify our hearts so we can contribute to make the world cleaner. Pope Francis noted that “there is an infallible way to defeat evil, that is, by starting to conquer it within ourselves”.
And so, let us pray that Jesus grant us the “desire” to lay the foundation by seeking for Him in everything we do and to grant us the wisdom to be aware of what’s happening around us. Let us echo the beautiful prayer of the Holy Father for us not to participate in polluting the world with complaints, but instead, let’s ask God to invite us to look at the beauty of life and the world starting from our hearts. Amen.