Into His Arms

Into His Arms

Into His Arms: Letting Go and Letting God

This drama film released in 1999 revolves around a 7-year-old girl named Jennifer and her mom Sharla. A well-off family in a community surrounded by friends. Until one day, the two went shopping to find a nice dress Jennifer can wear at her first piano recital. Sharla coaxed her daughter to try out a dress while she gets busy choosing other dresses for her. After a few minutes, her daughter was not there anymore. Fear surged Sharla knowing that Jennifer wouldn’t leave the shop without her. This story is a reminder to every parent to always be watchful of your child even as you go to the same old shop.

Sharla was remorseful to the point of having nightmares about the incident. Her husband Jim blamed her. Her sorrow was beyond words. Neighbours reached out to her but she became reclusive. She attempted to resist her friend Bren who bought some groceries to ease her chores. She offered to pay knowing she’s more financially able than her but Bren was quick to remind her that she’s willing to lend a hand because she was her friend. Later on, we learned Bren lost her husband on a road accident. Sharla asked how she managed to cope and her reply was that she asked God for comfort. Their conversation scene showed us how good it was to have an understanding and encouraging friend especially in times when our heart gets troubled.

They found the body of Jennifer in the woods. However, Gary cannot just accept what happened. He believes that Jennifer can’t simply run away and die like that. A police officer told him to close the case since they know enough. What triggered Gary was this guy’s statement that if he is going to chase phantoms, it will just hurt everyone. Gary was persistent to pursue his investigations further. Instinct and conscience was his guide for running after the truth. And sometimes, it is the gut feeling that tells us that something’s wrong. Gary’s persistence leads him to track Sharla’s neighbour and family friend Bill. His capture revealed the real story behind the untimely death of the girl.

This film is an eye-opener. Some pain never goes away like losing a loved one. We learned that forgiveness for the offender allows her to rebuild her faith. Sharla may not have granted her forgiveness to Bill at this time. Just maybe, she’ll come around to it once she becomes ready to forgive herself and heal her wounded soul thereafter.

We question God for tragedies that come our way. The message is for us to acknowledge that by submitting Into His Hands our lives, we let go of the pain and we let God unfold a new us as we move on.

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Hating the Sin, Loving the Sinner: Is this even possible?

Loving the sinner

Hating the Sin, Loving the Sinner: Is this even possible?

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has a light with darkness?” – 2 Corinthians 6:14

As part of God’s family, we become more discerning of what is acceptable to God and not. Our new nature makes us despise wrongdoings. Admit it or not, it is so easy for us to be uncomfortable when we know that the unbelievers around us are committing sin.

But how are we really to respond to such situations? Let’s look at Jesus’ example.

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gatherings around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?’” – Luke 15:1-4

When the Pharisees called Jesus a ‘friend of sinners,’ it was to insult Him. Ironically, they just reflected the reality of Jesus’ love and longing for the lost. He came to earth, not for the righteous, but to seek and save the sinners (Luke 19:10).

Befriending the sinners didn’t mean that Jesus tolerated their sin or took part in their destructive behaviour. He lived a holy, sinless life, but still spent time with sinful people.

This is to show us that everyone may experience life transformation if we would only repent – ask for forgiveness, receive Him as our Savior, and turn back from our old ways.

Even on our original state – sinful, filthy, hopeless – Jesus proved Himself to be the best friend we could ever have. Jesus sacrificed His very own life for us (John 15:13).

He saw us in our worst situations, yet loved us just the same,  He saved us not for our righteousness, but because of His mercy (Titus 3:5)

Therefore, as Jesus’ followers, we are to do the same.

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” – Matthew 5:44, 46

Being kind to kind people is easy. Giving to those who are generous to us is easy. Loving those who do us good is easy. Even unbelievers can do that.

However, the one who loves the least loveable, the arrogant, and the immoral is the true Christian. Because we are followers of Jesus, instead of disliking those who wrong us, we forgive them and understand their need of a Savior.

We are not to condone the sin, but not condemn the sinner either. And we must hate the act but love the one who took action. We are to attack the problem, but not the person.

By so doing, we can pass down to others the unconditional love that we have received from Jesus.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

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On the Road to Salvation: Reflections from the Scripture

Salvation

On the Road to Salvation: Reflections from the Scripture

Mark 1:11

And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you, I am well pleased.”

This passage came from one of the 12 ordinary men who was entrusted by Our Lord, Jesus Christ to be one of his apostles; Saint Mark.

Saint Mark was an ordinary man, who became one of the four evangelists who wrote the gospel. This verse describes explicitly a beautiful event which took place during The Son of Man’s baptism. After the baptism of Christ, a voice from heaven announced those words. And after this, Christ was set out into the wilderness for 40 days. Angels and wild animals guided him.

The beauty of this verse

This passage resonates with all of us today. Living in an age of confusion, restlessness, and depression caused by the lack of truth and interior goodness. We can only experience joy in Christ, the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Love of Our Father. As we wrestle through each day, fighting fires, seeking happiness in the material world. And painstakingly going through the motions from one demand to another, one worry to another, one frustration to another. We feel as if we are worthless being. We are confused about our being and ‘identity.’ We wonder about the reason  behind this ‘miserable life.’ We aimlessly seek to satisfy our hunger with worldly things. In a ‘busy’ world, we seek to please; we ask to impress, we aim for approval, we search for warmth and acceptance; we strive to be loved.

These are all remnants of our ‘human-ness,’ our ‘fallen’ nature, our ‘wounded’ nature. Which we choose to differentiate with ‘humanity’ — the latter used to describe ‘benevolence’ and ‘compassion.’ We define the former as our ‘human frailty.’ The remnants and consequence of ‘original sin,’ it is described as ‘concupiscence’ or man’s natural inclination towards sin.

How His baptism changed everything

Baptism erases the effects of original sin. But the consequence of original sins such as suffering, temptation, sickness, and death, remain after all our sins are forgiven in baptism. It is a reflection of our ‘human-ness.’ But we must not stop at recognizing and affirming the existence of our ‘fallen’ nature.

The beauty of this passage lies in the undeniable and absolute truth reaffirmed and restated in this passage. We are all children of Our Father in Heaven, as we also recognize and recite during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. And if Our Lord is Our Father, then our home is in Heaven beside Him.

Dr. Scott Hahn, a former Presbyterian minister who has found a great love for Our Lady and the Catholic Church described us as “Pilgrims on our way home.”

Saint Mark, the author of this verse, according to Christian tradition, joined St. Paul and St. Barnabas on their first missionary journey to Antioch. On the road to Cyprus, he left them and went back home, because he became “homesick.” In this context, we see that even the Apostles, were not immune to the consequences of their fallen nature. After this incidence, St. Paul felt like questioning St. Mark’s commitment and reliability as a missionary. He might have felt discouraged and possibly disappointed.

Come home to Our Father

We feel our own personal ‘homesickness’ in the context of lust, constantly failing, being discouraged. Departing from our nature to love, making our fallen nature as excuses and justifications. But there is a deeper and bigger ‘homesickness’ in our call to come home to Our Father who loves us and who is well pleased with us! Who else are we set out to please than He who loves us the most, and who is proud and glad of us? St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo wrote, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find rest in you.” Both you and I are not unfamiliar with this restlessness to love Him more.

There is a need for a constant interior struggle and spiritual warfare. When we feel discouraged and frustrated, when we have failed, when we have fallen to sin, when we are shameful of what we are and what we have become, let us come back, make a good confession, look up and hear Our Father says, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”