Don Bosco Philippines South Province

Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippine South Province FIS

Faith Makes the Difference

Visiting Mt. Sinai was one of my memorable experiences in my life. From the city of Jerusalem, our group took a long travel by bus through the lonely desert sands and dunes to the Sinai Peninsula. We arrived towards the evening at the foot of Mt. Horeb where we lodged at Morgen Hotel. After our dinner we started our climb around 8 o’clock PM towards the mountain top. We were spending the night on Mt. Sinai.
With knapsacks on our backs containing our personal things, food for breakfast and tents for the sleep-over, we ascended the mountain of God. The climb was so dark. There were no street lamps along the way. Some of us carried torches while others brought along flashlights to guide our way. There were also other pilgrims who journeyed with us. Upon reaching the peak, a lot of pilgrims were already there. The mood was festive as we pitched our tents for the night. It was so cold on top. We woke up at dawn to watch the beautiful sunrise in this awesome desert.
In the midst of darkness our torches and our flashlights enabled us to find our way and reached the mountain top.
This Sunday’s Readings speak about Faith. The Gospel (Lk 12:32-48) describes faith as a lamp “burning,” shining in the dark night. The 2nd Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews (Heb 11:1-2) defines faith as the “assurance of what we hope for;” and “being certain of what we cannot see.”
The Letter to the Hebrews, if we might recall, was written to exhort Christians who began to doubt whether it was really worth believing in Jesus as Messiah especially in a time when they now face persecution because of their faith. As if their lamp was extinguishing, it was an encouragement to keep the faith.
Our Readings teaches us 3 Things that Faith can do to make a difference in our lives:
1.    Faith Shows the Way – it gives light!
Pope Francis wrote his First Encyclical “Lumen Fidei” which means “Light of Faith” on June 29 – Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul – for all of us believer of today. This is a unique letter because it was written by “4 hands” – his and Pope Benedict’s. So it’s a didactic duet of 2 Popes in their duty to strengthen the faith of their brothers and sisters.
In this letter, the Pope insists that faith is a “light to be recovered.” The objection of contemporary man is this: that light (faith) which have been considered sufficient for societies of old, is now felt to be of no use for new times, for a humanity come of age, proud of its rationality and anxious to explore the future in novel ways. Hence faith is irrelevant today, many claim.
Instead he declares: “There is an urgent need, to see once again that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim. The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence.”
A candle is always relevant at night. You might not need it during day light. But you’d be sorry not to keep one during brown-out! Keep your candle. Light your faith.
2.    Faith gives you Patience in Waiting
The metaphor the Gospel uses to liken our Christian life is “Waiting for the Master’s Return.” The image is clear. We experience how tiring and boring the waiting can be: we wait for a jeep, a taxi or a bus to ride; we fall in line to wait for our turn at the counter, at the cashier in a mall or at the bank.
Last July 26, I was caught in a huge traffic jam at the South Road Properties (SRP). I did not know that there was a gathering of the Iglesia ni Cristo somewhere at the Calungsod Shrine. The movement of vehicles was so slow. It was so congested because of vehicles wrongly parked and the traffic was badly managed. I was in a hurry to get in time to the Lourdes Parish Church for a wedding! I really felt the impatience growing within me. I was not complaining because they had this historic celebration, I just felt it was an unnecessary burden due to poor logistics and crowd control. But I had to keep my cool. I prayed for more patience.
Faith gives us the necessary “oil” to be patient. It enables you to stretch your spiritual muscle; not lose your cool and do something positive like praying or listening to music to lift you up while waiting. Faith supplies us with perseverance to wait patiently.
3.    Faith makes you Fearless
Few days ago, the Reading was about the 12 Scouts Moses sent to Canaan to explore the land. On their return they brought along bountiful fruits from the land. But they also sowed fear among their countrymen. They brought news that they were fierce, very strong, huge men who devoured their inhabitants, veritable giants that they seemed to look like mere grasshoppers! As a result, the Israelites got discouraged. They became afraid and felt inferior. They wailed and grumbled. Suddenly they lost heart and they lost their faith in God!
Faith gives us courage to face our fears, worries, problems and concerns. With faith, we can tell ourselves: we can beat the odds! We believe that God is greater than our fears. We believe that God is mightier than our problems. The Israelites forgot that they were “taller” than the giants they saw because they were standing tall on God’s shoulders!
Last night, I watched the crucial game between our national team Gilas Pilipinas against the taller South Koreans. Korea was a formidable team. It was a team of giants and 3-point sharp shooters. We have never won a top-level Asian Competition against them since 1986. It has dealt our national team countless heartbreaks in the past three decades that it has been dubbed the “South Korean curse.” In 2011 we lost a bronze medal match against them.
But last night our team played with a great heart even without our best player sidelined for injury. They defeated Korea 86-79 that earned them a slot for the 2014 Fiba World Basketball Cup in Spain. Marc Pingris, the 6 ft 5 forward best player of the game, personified the grit of the Filipinos who continued playing despite a sprained leg. His interview in TV5 after the game struck me. He thanked the Lord for the win. He was praying for strength as he was playing with a sprained leg. His faith made his fearless.
Faith can make a difference. It gives light, its supplies more patience and it makes you fearless – giving you more courage. So keep the faith!
Disclaimer: This section of the website is a personal creative writing of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official views, opinion, or policies of the Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippines South Province. For concerns on the content, style, and grammar of this piece, please contact us.

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