Clothed in humanity for humanity
I have always known Jesus Christ as the “Son of God” who died for us to save us from our sins. In the context of Filipino tradition, I always started my prayers with the words “Dear Papa Jesus…” and wait for His birthday eagerly during Christmas. In every Ash Wednesday, I am reminded of Jesus’ sacrifices, and more importantly, the significance of his death on the cross during Holy Week Celebration. I also attended an exclusive Catholic school for girls, and learned more about Him through the biblical stories discussed in our Christian Living classes. At that time, the most striking thing that I learned is about seeing how He helped the last, the lost, and the least while forgiving and embracing those men and women who suffered from public persecution.
I learned more about Jesus Christ when I attended a youth camp when I was eleven years old. The second session was “Who is Jesus Christ to me?” I came to understand basic historical facts about Him. It was interesting on how He became the most controversial, most revered, and the most respected man who ever lived. After more than 2000 years, His story remains and He is remembered greatly for all the things that He claimed to be: He is pre-existent with God (John 1:1-3), He has the power of Heaven and Earth (Matthew 28:18), He forgives sins (Luke 5:24), and d) He performs miracles (walking on water, commands the storms, raises the dead, among others). More importantly in that camp, I learned that He is a personal God, because He also felt human experiences: tiredness (John 4:6), thirst (John 19:8), grief (John 11:35), loneliness (Matthew 26:40), misunderstanding (John 8:27), shame (Matthew 12:47), stress (Matthew 14:13), betrayal (Mark 14:10), denial (Luke 22:6), and calling names (Matthew 12:24). Even the mysteries of His hidden life teach us about simplicity, growing and upholding cultural and religious traditions, and obedience to parents–characteristics that each of us should aspire. In His poverty, He lived to enrich our lives on what it truly meant to belong to God. All of these human experiences made me feel closer to Him because I felt that He came to earth not just to save us many years ago but to build a Church (of His followers) that will span in the years to come. He lived amongst us to teach us about faith, hope, and love that our life on earth is just a pit stop to an eternal life with Him.
I thought that knowing these things will be enough reasons to say that I know a lot about Him. However, it was only about 10 years later that I begin to appreciate these things when slowly I understand what becomes of the person like me after knowing Jesus Christ. I realize that encountering Jesus is transcending beyond the facts and stories, but in living His ways and sharing Him to others. Thus, to grasp His greatness in terms of my human capacity is about meeting, living, and sharing Him in the best way that I can be. Though it might be easy to enumerate my knowledge about him in three aspects, it is not easy to actually sustain and be consistent, but I aspire to be a mirror of Him. It is a daily struggle to live out faith and translating it into actions.
If I have lived during His time and He asked me the way He asked His disciples the question “But who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29), I would probably say what Peter said, about Him being the Christ, or the Anointed One. But I realize that Jesus is asking me more than what I felt about Him being the Son of God. Maybe His disciples could see him, without really perceiving who He was, hear Him without listening to what He was saying, and be with Him without getting to know Him. Even in the present times, I have rejected Him many times despite the blessings, the messages, and the graces He has given to me. Thus, it is about my personal response to Him that will matter who He really is in my life, and I will find it in my heart the answers why living with Him is always the best life. I can probably mention hundreds of personal accounts of how He has saved and blessed me and my loved ones, but the point is, it is when I placed my complete faith in Him that He has shown me how He can move mountains in my life to a plan that is really for my welfare (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
Jesus Christ could have stayed in the Heavens with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. But out of His love for you and me, the Word became flesh. He came to give us new life, and not just any other kind of life but an abundant one — a life in all its fullness despite our sins (John 10:10, 1 Timothy 1:14-15). He came because He is the only way to the Father (John 14:6-9) for in Him we will find salvation (Acts 4:12). Putting it in the words of St. Iraneus, “What we have lost in Adam (being the image and likeness of God), we might recover in Christ.” Jesus Christ do more than recovers us, but restores back our relationship with the Father — perfect, whole, and complete.
You and I were made for Him (Colossians 1:16). His baptism at the River Jordan is a manifestation of His identity and calling, as it also recalls the first revelation of the Holy Trinity. He came not only to save us but to invite us in having a deeper and more meaningful relationship inside the circle of love of the Holy Trinity. He wanted us to experience the perfect and ultimate love that the Holy Trinity can give. He does so simply because of His mission to pursue us relentlessly and forever (John 13:1), and nothing can separate us from that great and amazing love (Romans 8:38-39). A God, who cannot die, decides to live amongst us knowing that He will eventually have to die for our sake.
Indeed, He is a God clothed in humanity for humanity.
Since that fateful camp event held on November 7-9, 2003, I never stopped serving our Catholic community especially because I began to understand and appreciate who Jesus is in my life. It is amazing how right before my eyes, the lives of the many youth who took a stand and believed in Him fills my heart with utmost joy. My transformation into a life in complete trust in Him was made better by the people that God used as my inspiration. With God’s grace, He used me as an instrument of His love, and I could not imagine myself to be anywhere other than in this business of loving people.
There were pains along the way, but then God’s plan in my life is full of realizations that I simply could not say no. It was not easy but at the end of the day, it is a constant beautiful struggle. Like Him, there were crosses that I had to take when I said “Yes” to that call. There were sacrifices that have to be made along the way. These things have to happen in order to free myself from all unnecessary burdens that will hinder me from doing His mission. But part of this kind of life is the crosses that we cannot unburden but live with. The cross of my personal life reminds me constantly that if God brings me to it, He will bring me through it. These trials will only make me fall in love with Him even more, and thereby putting Him in absolute control of my life. This is actually difficult and humbling at the same time, for humans like to take in control. But why not? It is God who will take control, and such power is beyond what only humans can.
The cross of my calling is a challenge to live a 100 percent life in integrity–no if’s nor but’s in between. Just like the parable of the wedding banquet, “…for many are called but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14), it is truly a privileged to serve the youth and help them bring closer to God, just as I get closer to Him. Even after all of these many years, each moment blessed to me is totally different. All the more that I allow Him to take over my life, all the more that I am amazed how His beautiful plan is unfolding. Events may not be always pleasant, but I realize this must happen because God is creating me to be even more beautiful with such calling.
I am living the dream of others, and thereby my calling to give as much as I can in sharing this dream in the cross of selflessness. In the Lasallian prayer, “I will continue oh my God to do my actions for the love of you,” all of these works are for Your glory, not mine. It is never about me, but about You. I am happy to carry these crosses, as this is the way to show love back to the Lord, though as not as great as how much He has shown Himself in my life. By imitating Simon of Cyrene, I will have to give up my pride, take up my cross, and walk with Jesus. I might have been in unjustly forced by circumstances into doing things that I would rather not do, but these crosses I will carry them with a hopeful and loving heart.
Allow me to end this post with the lyrics from one of my favorite songs I learned from our community. This song titled “Lead Me Back To You” is a great worship song I always love to sing in remembering the fact that “There is simply no other way but in Christ”.