FAITH AND SERENITY

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time          

            One time I said two consecutive funeral Masses. The first one was for a padre de familia, 55 years old. From the beginning to the end of the Mass, the wife and her four kids were weeping, almost wailing. I heard them saying, ““Bakit mo kami iniwan? Paano na kami? Sino pa ang bubuhay sa amin?” The second one was for a madre de familia, 46 years old. Though there was sadness on the faces of the family, but I did not hear them crying, not even shedding tears.

            After my Mass for the madre de familia, I was able to talk to the children. It became clear to me why in the face of the passing away of their mother they remained calm. The eldest daughter gave me the reason why – she said: “We believe that God knows what is best for Mommy; and we also believe that God will take care of us.” I could feel that she meant every word she said. I was deeply touched and truly edified by it. This simple yet profound statement was much more powerful than the seven-minute homily I gave in that Mass.

            Needless to point out the contrast between the two families. Suffice to say, however, that clearly it is faith in God that enables the latter to go beyond their painful experience, face their situation with serenity, and see the future with hope. This is the difference faith makes.

            The story of Jairus in today’s gospel speaks to us about faith and trust. And this gospel passage is a story of contrasts.

            First, there is the contrast between the despair of the mourners and the hope of Jesus. On one side is the voice of hopelessness; on the other side is the voice of hope. Someone tells Jairus, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” But Jesus says, “The child is not dead but asleep.”

            Second, there is the contrast between the unrestrained distress of the mourners and the calm serenity of Jesus. On one side is the group of people who are troubled and confused, mourning and weeping. On the other side is Jesus who is so calm and in control; he knows exactly what to do. Jesus says, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” And because Jairus believes and trusts, his daughter gets healed.

            Why is there such a difference or contrast? It is due to Jesus’ perfect confidence and trust in God. We can face the biggest problem, we can confront the greatest crisis, we can deal with the worst disaster, we can meet the grimmest tragedy… we can face it with courage and strength, if we face it with God. The great truth of our faith is that what looks completely impossible with humans is possible with God. What on merely human grounds is far too good to be true, becomes blessedly true when God is there. As William Barclay puts it, “There is nothing beyond facing, and there is nothing beyond conquest – not even death – when it is faced and conquered in the love of God.”

            Which voice do we choose to listen to and believe in? Do we really listen to the voice of faith and hope? The voice that tells us that Jesus is our salvation and that we can put all our trust in him. Or do we choose to listen to the voice of despair and hopelessness? It is the voice that causes us to worry, to be afraid and anxious. Which side do we choose to belong? The side of distress or the side of serenity?

            Let me emphasize that it is up to us… the choice is ours! Let us choose to listen to, to believe in, and to trust Jesus. Rest assured that we will have the courage and strength we need to overcome the challenges that come into our life. Let us choose to be calm… knowing that God is with us. Let us choose to be on the side of serenity… to be on the side of Jesus, the Lord of Life.

            “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” It is said, “The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of faith is the end of anxiety.”

            Let us end by praying together this famous prayer – Prayer for Serenity: O God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.

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