I have attended Tagalog Mass today at St. Mary’s Church after not being able to visit the church for quite some time – as I always go to St. Francis of the Assisi at Jebel Ali for Friday mass. Father Tom changed physically since I last saw him few months back. He gained weight and had his hair shorter this time. But his charm and way of conveying the messages of God to people didn’t changed. He is always known for his storytelling and relating the Word to the daily life and experiences of Filipino expats in Dubai.
Today’s gospel and homily talks about the first 2 commandments that God instated to Moses: (1) Love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and (2) Love your neighbors as yourself. Father Tom divided these into 3 commandments: love God, love neighbors, love yourself. It’s true enough that many Christians confess their love to God by attending mass regularly and devoting time to church activities. But we all know for a fact that it doesn’t end there and there is more to it than we realize. We all know that the best and pleasing way to serve and love God is by serving others despite our limitations. But how can we serve and love others if don’t love ourselves? How can we respect and treat other people with love and sympathy if we don’t respect ourselves? How can we accept others if we don’t accept who we are and what we have?
We all live by rules. Do this and do that. Don’t do this and don’t do that. It would seem to be very difficult to live a life without rules but we often fail ourselves to follow the rules just because our lives have been ruined by traumatic experiences from the past, the difficulties we are struggling on everyday and our anxieties for the future. We tend to forget ourselves that leads us to forgetting about other people as well. It is so easy to break the rules because we claim that these doesn’t hold true in our lives and we create a new rule for ourselves.
We will always go back to the basics. We will all go back to where we came from. Change is constant and the absolute reality of change is going back to where it started. We will all go back looking ourselves in the mirror asking ourselves did I change to make myself better, to make my life better? Did I change for my own sake or for the sake of others? Am I living for a purpose? If the answer is yes, then we have to love ourselves more to fulfill this purpose. Accept the fact that God planned us, that we are not an accident. We may see imperfections in our physical appearances, personality and backgrounds but God never used this word to describe us.
You are who you are for a reason.
You’re part of an intricate plan.
You’re precious and perfect unique design,
Called God’s special woman or man.
You look like you look for a reason.
Our God made no mistake.
He knit you together within the womb.
You’re just what he wanted to make.
The parents you had were the ones he chose,
And no matter how you may feel,
They were custom-designed with God’s plan in mind,
And they bear the Master’s seal.
No, the trauma you faced was not easy.
And God wept that it hurts you so;
But it was allowed to shape your heart
So that into his likeness you’d grow.
You are who you are for a reason,
You’ve been formed by the Master’s rod.
You are who you are, beloved,
Because there is a God!