Saturday, June 30, 2012

Film: The Mission

A reflection on the character 'Mendoza' from the movie; The Mission, played by Robert de Niro. 

Mendoza is introduced in the movie as a slave trader in pursuit of the Indians who have escaped being caught by him. Hiding behind the bushes in the jungle he sees Fr. Gabriel and exchanges a few words of displeasure that both are obstructing with each other’s ‘mission’. We later see him parading his ‘catch’ as he goes into the city proudly on his horse. After collecting his earnings and spending time with his brother, he comes to find out of the love affair his brother has with the woman who he has feelings for. When a fight broke out with his brother, to save his pride he kills his own bother. Guilt then takes over him and after the visit by Fr. Gabriel, as an act of penance for his sin against his brother he gathers all his armor in a net and carries it with him on his shoulder and with barefoot climb the cruel rocks up the falls with Fr. Gabriel and his companions on their service to the Indians.   

I was very touched during the scene when the Indians who recognized him as the slave trader sets him ‘free’ from his ‘burden’. But this is not done before all the difficulty and pressure he has to go through climbing up the rocks. A very good symbolism is used here in this part of the movie. The ‘burden’ is his past, that is, his profession as a slave trader, his sins and his guilt. Even though the ‘burden’ was cut by a priest companion earlier during the climb, Mendoza still felt not forgiven and when down to take upon him again the ‘burden’. But only after being ‘set free’ by the very people whom he has threaten and hurt so much did he feel forgiven. His tears was pouring out as his past is poured out and now it changes into the tears of joy especially seen in the movie after being hugged by Fr. Gabriel and affirmed by the Indians who were actually laughing at him. Maybe in their mind, they were thinking; “Look at this man whom we thought was so cruel and fierce, he can cry too, he is a mere human like any of us” and they accept him in his community. I assume Mendoza might have been a Christian all his life and now he learns the meaning of true forgiveness from the recently converted Indians.

Mendoza getting involved with the daily life of the Indians eventually feels that it is his mission to be a member of a Jesuit and to continue to serve the Indians. He shows his commitment until the very end of his life by defending the Indians and their village. I believe the questions that he might have especially at the end of his life is why didn’t the church do more to help the situation? Why did the church give in to the politics? Did his mission and vows do any good for the Indians? I guess he died knowing that the Indians were actually worth ‘saving’ and helping for. This is because of the last gaze he had was seeing the martyrdom of the people in defend of their new believe and faith as they went out in a procession while being shot at.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Incarnation – God Is WITH and AMONG US, not in a distant.

I heard the song above ‘From a Distance” over the radio today, and I believe since it’s a Saturday (rest day for me) why not I write my thoughts on this song. It was written in 1985 by the American singer-songwriter Julie Gold. Julie Gold has stated that she believes in an immanent beneficent God, and also thinks that people have a right to interpret the song any way they want, as with all art. She has stated that the song is about the difference between how things appear to be and how they really are. ("Julie Gold and Her Songs", Here on Earth - Radio Without Borders, Wisconsin Public Radio, February 19, 2005).

I first heard this song sometime in 1990 when I was at a vocation camp. But today when I heard it again, I somehow felt the idea in that song that God is in a distant watching us is kinda absurd. As a Catholic, with conviction I believe that God is not in a distant, he is very much close to each and every one of us no matter what our religious beliefs are. Maybe we are ‘in a distant with’ God, but He is not; God is always with us and constantly reaching out to us. Immanuel = ‘God-is-with-us’ (Mt.1: 23) Jesus too assured us that we should not be afraid for He is with us always, yes, to the end of times (Mt.28:20).  

Now the very meaning of the incarnation of Jesus is itself an act of love from God to tell all of us that He is not in a distant. He sends His son to be with and among us. This is a revelation of God himself to all people. God becoming man. (Jn1:14). Incarnation = taking flesh (The noun incarnation derives from the ecclesiastical Latin verb incarno, itself derived from the prefix in- and “caro, "flesh", meaning "to make into flesh" or "to be made flesh").  
Because of the incarnation, we can now be assured that God has knowledge of suffering. He is not distant from our pain. God died and rose again to save us all. We who are living in a distant with God due to our sinfulness, sufferings, doubts and unbelief are invited into His arms of love. Let us then go back to our faithful God who is constantly reaching out to us. I leave you now with one of my favorite song; 'You are mine' by David Hass. A beautiful song that reminds us that God Is With us.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Inauguration Mass for the New Academic Year 2012/13.

I participated at the Inauguration Mass for the new academic year at the Loyola School of Theology (LST), Ateneo de Manila Campus. The Mass was dedicated to the Holy Spirit. I was very inspired with the homily given by the presider Fr. Genaro Diwa who is also my professor for the subject Christian Worship. The message I receive from his homily is that the Holy Spirit is the agent of change. Just yesterday I commented on my Facebook wall about the changes and sacrifices I have to make now due to the many readings I have in this semester. The many readings are just a small exaggeration but I do have to change and make sacrifices in order to take advantage of the education here and the second opportunity given to me in this journey towards the Priesthood. 

The homily based on the theme of the day where we reflected through the readings of the Pentecost, St. Paul's reflection on the different gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Gospel was Mary's Annunciation, was a reminder to me on how much i need the Holy Spirit to guard and guide me in my formation here. 

This event too, saw the professors and the students make their 'Oath of Commitment'. I am indeed touched by the words in my oath as a student; "We, students, commit ourselves in our search for truth and in our studies, in order to serve with competence and courage as witnesses today in the Church and in the world". This oath clearly shows that LST is an Ecclesiastical Institution and we cannot do all the above without the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  

I conclude here with the prayer of the Holy Sprit.

Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love.

V. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created.
R. And you shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray: O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that in the same Spirit we may be truly wise, and ever rejoice in his consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

...a happy reunion after 17years with my foster family of the WYD '95 @ Quezon City, Manila.

This afternoon I had a happy reunion after 17years with my foster family of the 10th World Youth Day 1995 at Manila. At the beginning I was feeling a little apprehensive of this visit because I was assuming that the family might have shifted or have even forgotten me. But when Papa Jaime heard my name, he immediately asked me to come into the dinning where all the family were gathered for the Father’s Day lunch. He gave me a big hug and said to the rest of the family (including the children that I have not met during my stay there before); “my son is back”. I really felt so touched. It reminded me of the story of the ‘Prodigal Son’ in the scriptures. During the meal, we tried to catch up the lost 17years. At the end of the meal, Papa Jaime said a prayer for me.

Thank you God for making it possible for me to meet them again. I pray that you may bless each and everyone it the family and to give good health in mind and body to Papa Jaime and Mama Paz. Lord, bless my family too especially my parents back home in Malaysia. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

A new chapter in life begins in June 2012.

After working as a Youth Minister for the Diocese of Melaka-Johor, Malaysia for a year, now a new chapter in my life has just begun. I am currently studying for a  Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) at the Loyola School of Theology. I am aware that this journey is not going to be the same when I was in College General, Major Seminary, Malaysia and St. Francis Xavier Major Seminary, Singapore. With an open heart and the assurance of God’s unfailing love and faithfulness and His guidance, I believe this journey is going to be a very meaningful one for me.

Many spiritual writers has encouraged and always recommends that we offer our struggles and sacrifices for an intention just like Jesus offered his sacrifice for the salvation and love for us all. I too have decided to offer my sacrifices and struggles for some intentions while I'm here in Manila. May God in his mercy answer all our prayers.
I thank my Bishop, Rt. Rev. Paul Tan for his confidence and trust he has on me and this opportunity to study here in the Philippines.

Lord, You are the Potter and I am Your Clay, have Your way in me. Your will be done…Amen.

The song below by Miley Cyrus - "The Climb" explains how I felt and what i am feeling now.