Love One Another

When Jhon Robert was growing up in Bantayan Island, he was told that his mother was working abroad. Any arriving vehicle would give him a feeling of excitement. He would run toward the door to peep hoping it was finally her. He would imagine her bringing toys and candies for pasalubong. But months turned to years. It was only when he was ten years old that his family told him the truth. Her mother will never ever come home because she died while giving birth to him in Bacolod City.
His young mind could not yet understand. That was the day he started to hate her.
Imelda Andales, his mother, was five months pregnant when the doctor told her the saddest news in her life. She had cancer in the stomach. Any medical procedure done would be detrimental for the baby in her womb. The doctor advised her to postpone the chemotherapy and operation after she gives birth. But the cancer was so aggressive. After nine months she had to choose between her life and her baby. Her husband wanted to save her. But she chose her baby over her life. Devastated at her death, the husband left his two children for fifteen years.
To escape the difficulty of home, Jhon Robert applied as a working student in their parish. But strangely, it was also there that he felt the attraction of entering the seminary. He did enter Don Bosco Formation Center in Lawaan, Talisay City. Through the intense seminary formation, he began to understand deeper God’s work in his life. He also started to pray for the closure of his issue regarding his mother.
Once in their immersion program he was assigned in Victorias. Every time the bus he was taking would pass by Manapla area on his way to Cebu, he would feel something strange. Soon after, his mother’s brother came to him in Victorias informing him that his mother was actually buried in the Manapla Cemetery. He lost no time to visit her tomb as well has his relatives who explained to him the circumstances of her death. It was an eye opener. She saw the death of her mother in a new light. He realized what she did was martyrdom. It was an act of love. She gave up her life for him to live!
Recently, Jhon Robert made his first religious profession as a Salesian of Don  Bosco along with eleven of his novitiate companions. Among his family members who witnessed the event was his father. Both father and son now realize how God moves in mysterious ways. Her loss turned out to be fruitful. The family’s gain was the result of a mother’s sacrifice. As they embrace forgiving each other, they were able to love one another this time even deeper.
The Gospel reading taken from the 15th chapter of John is part of the “farewell discourse” of Jesus. He was beginning to tell his disciples that he was “going away.” Before he leaves, he tells them to love one another. He uses a very striking, yet common Jewish metaphor: the vine and the branches. It expresses a vital relationship that the disciples need to maintain with Jesus. This is still true for all of us today. Jesus tells us to be connected with Him. We are to remain in Him. This dynamic union assures us of our fruitfulness. 
In his visit to our country, Pope Francis reminded us that despite of our “busy-ness” we need to pray. “If we do not pray, we will not know the most important thing of all: God’s will for us; without prayer we will accomplish very little.”  Prayer gives us spiritual strength to love Jesus. And our love for Jesus gives us a strong motive also to love one another. As we celebrate Mother’s Day, let us pray for our mothers who were instrumental in giving us life.

(This article also appears in Cebu Daily News, May 10, 2015: Sharing the Word)

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