Don Bosco Philippines South Province

Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippine South Province FIS

In His Brightness

       Last Christmas, I received something small simply wrapped in a manila paper. It was so small it could fit in the palm of my hand. Initially, I told myself: “ay, kini ra?” (Is this it?). Without yet opening it, I have already pre-judged the content. However, the gift turned out to be one of my best presents.
          Inside the cheap trappings was a solar-powered torchlight with a compass. On pressing the compass, the cute flashlight turns on! The gift was small but meaningful. It is very practical. At night, I could use the flashlight during brown-outs; during outing, the compass could be a useful tool. Above all, the gift is a beautiful reminder. In our life we need light and compass: to brighten the way and give us direction.
          We have embarked on a Lenten Pilgrimage. Our light and our compass in this 40-day journey is Jesus. Ours is a journey of discipleship. In this 2ndSunday of Lent, the Gospel is about Jesus’ transfiguration. In this episode, Jesus enlightened his closest disciples about his real identity. The three disciples (Peter, James and John), saw a different Jesus; a Jesus they never knew. For the first time, they saw his glory. They were confronted by his splendor and his fullness! If we were to ask them to describe the experience, they would surely say: “we saw his brightness!”
          This experience of feeling his brilliance enlightened them. While it exposed them to the light, it also gave them a tiny glimpse of the bigger picture. Jesus had a bigger story to tell. Hence, it opened them to the possibility that this Jesus, their Master, has something more to offer. His dream was to replicate heaven here on earth; to re-create the world.
          Jesus continues to challenge us today. The Church continues to echo the message of Christ especially through her ministers. Pope Francis recently marked the first anniversary of his election. Though largely unknown when he stepped out into the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square twelve months ago, this obscure prelate from Argentina has electrified the world. In the words of Vatican journalist John L. Allen, Jr., “Pope Francis has given the Church a new lease in life, an adrenaline rush.” Even among non-Catholic and secular circles, they speak of a “Pope Francis effect.” His “rock star status” has given the gospel a global platform that has created a climate of acceptance.
          Yet the “coolness” of the Pope is not just focused on the superficial aspects of his papacy. His predominant theme is his call to radical renewal. He has taken bold steps toward reform modeling it himself. He wants to take us back to the roots of our faith, to foster our closeness to Jesus and to step out to be a missionary. By taking on the name “Francis” and asking the crowd on his first papal appearance to pray for him before imparting his official blessing, he was sending a strong signal of simplicity as his style. He is teaching us a paradox he learned from Jesus: the more simple and humble he is, the larger his popularity as a pontiff grows. He is aware that he is simply a messenger with a message. To be effective, he must become the message itself! No wonder he has graced the front cover of Time Magazine and Rolling Stones.
          He is challenging fellow pastors to live simple lives in order to focus on the healing mission of the Church. He encourages them to stay close to the poor and needy and to be “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep.” These are, in fact, qualities that have endeared him to the world.
          Our journey of renewal in our country has made very little progress. This year is another opportune moment to make further steps especially with the Year of the Laity. The Pastoral Exhortation of Archbishop Socrates Villegas, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines urges our lay faithful to be “saints and heroes.” He points out three special areas of concern which the lay Christians are to direct their attention and action: poverty, politics and business. These have become dark areas because our culture has been contaminated by the two-fold greed for money and power. The task of every Christian is to allow the brightness of Christ to shine in these areas. To renew the social and political fabric of our society, a concerted effort is now needed. We need a bigger flashlight and bigger compass to remind us. We are invited to gaze on Jesus in order not to lose our vision of transformation. 
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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