Saturday, March 22, 2008


Today, Holy Saturday , is sacred, as the day of the Lord's Rest, as He lies dead in the tomb. It has been called the "Second Sabbath" after creation. Holy Saturday is, and should be the most calm and quiet day of the entire Church year.

"The altar is left bare, and the sacrifice of the Mass is not celebrated. Only after the solemn Vigil during the night, held in anticipation of the Resurrection, does the Easter celebration begin, with a spirit of joy that overflows into the following period of fifty days...." Today, the Church, as it were, at the Lord's tomb, meditates on the Lord's Passion and death, and on His descent into hell ( not the hell of the damned) and awaiting His resurrection with prayer and fasting...

We have all been disappointed many times in our lives. Children get disappointed when they do not get the toys or clothes that they yearn for. Teenagers get hurt because of some difficulties with their friends. Students get disappointed because of the lack of support and affection from the significant adults in their lives.

We feel betrayed sometimes, deceived by others, misled or disillusioned once in a while. When the hurt gets to be too deep and the pain almost unbearable, our hearts are heavy and our shoulders seem too weak to carry the load. It is at these times when some of us tend to withdraw. We lick our wounds in self-pity and start to think that the whole world is against us.

Some of us cope with such situations by doing the things that we think we can do best. We return to familiar things, places and persons associated with the carefree days of our childhood. We hope that by living again in all that is familiar and starting anew in that environment, we will be able to nurse our wounded hearts back to health. We hope that by doing this, we can give ourselves a fresh start. Others, who do not know what they are good at, who do not know whom their true friends are, go home to their parents as an escape. There are those, who feeling beaten, lost and miserably use drugs, wine, women, men, and money as their eternal crutch. What a waste!

Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus chose to go back and do what is familiar to him. The frustrations, hurts, pains, anger, shame, and disappointments of Good Friday were weighing heavily upon him. In order to cope with the situation, he returned to his familiar fishing net, boarded the familiar fishing boat, ready and willing to do his familiar work-- catching fish. He wanted to forget about his hurts and wanted them to heal on their own by doing what at least he thought he did best- fishing.

Three years prior to this time in his life, Jesus called him and asked him to follow the Master. Peter left his father, his net and boat and followed Jesus. Jesus explicitly told Peter that from that time on, Peter was going to catch not fish but men and women for the kingdom of God. What a noble task! What a dignified job he had reason to be proud. He had reason to have high hopes. The kingdom of God is close at hand. He will be one of the VIPs in that kingdom. What a blast!

Then came the Passion. Then came the Crucifixion. Then came a criminal's execution for the very One he had placed all his hopes in. It was enough to shatter his hopes and break his wings. It weakened him, broke him, crippled him. It was simply too much for him!

I feel with Peter. At times like these, we too can return to our own version of "catching fish." We return to whatever it is we are used to even if we have already received the greater call of catching people for the Lord. Peter's former involvement was too lowly, in comparison to the task Jesus gave him. It was too mediocre. At that point, what could we expect? The man was hurting and everything seemed to have closed in on him.

I experience this myself when I am hurt too deeply by those whom I love. When people whom I love so very much, the members of my community, that I am willing to risk life and limb for, judge me so harshly and gossip about me, a significant part of me dies. I get hurt too. I feel frustrated also. I too end up questioning my choices. I am sometimes tempted to return to my own "fishing net", forget about my higher calling and be small, mediocre and satisfied with the bare minimum.
Fortunately,there is Peter's experience from which we can learn. Peter, the first Pope, seems to take nudge from Jesus and together they come to pull me out of the hole I begin to dig for my hiding and hibernation.

Just when Peter was ready to settle down in his own little world, Jesus "came" and visited him at the familiar lake. Jesus challenged Peter, "Why should you return to fishing when I have called you for greater things?" "I did not die on the Cross so that you will be sad and timid and afraid."

When we are so deeply wounded, we may be tempted just to stop by the roadside, lick our wounds, cry over our hearts and get paralyzed by our resentments and pains.

Why should we stop and be miserable when we can actually still crawl to reach our goals, our original calling? Now, why should we be satisfied with crawling when we can stand? Why remain standing when we can walk? Why walk when we can really run to the finish line, with heads held high?

If we keep in mind always that life really has its share of winning and losing, then we will be better disposed to face all our challenges. The truth of the matter that we must accept is that there really are more times when we LOSE in this game called life. That is alright! We just have to pick ourselves up again and set our hearts and minds on our calling, on our dreams.
We must believe that if God has called us, He will definitely equip us with all that it takes to make us winners. We must cooperate. The best part is when the winning happens, it will be so much sweeter!

Let us allow the Lord to be our ultimate Coach. Picture Him standing at the wings prodding us to stand up and continue the good fight. We are called to be champions. That is why Christ died and rose from the dead. He wants to make us champions of love.
So the next time we fail, the next time we feel the world crumbling in on us, remember Peter.
Remember how he too miserably failed not just at one point but also in several points in his life. Remember to call on the Lord because if it means for Him to pick us up in that old familiar place where He originally called us by name- He will do it.

When we fail, let us not feel sorry for ourselves. Let us hold our head high. Let us not dig holes for hiding. Let us begin with the first step. He will be there at the finish line to hold our hands up and proclaim: The champion!

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