Miracle of miracles

GOD’S WORD TODAY - Ruben M. Tanseco S.J. - The Philippine Star

What an ever-loving God you and I belong to! St. Paul in today’s Second Reading says it all in a few words: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy” (1 Cor. 3:16-17). The very first chapter of the first book of the Bible reads: “Then God said: ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’…. God created man in his image, in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:26-27).

As a follow-up of His everlasting love, God became one among us in the person of Jesus Christ, so that we cannot miss anymore how much He really loves us, and what it means to be an image of and no less than a temple of God. Jesus lived an ordinary but very loving and compassionate life for all of us to follow. But how come there is still so much un-Christlike behavior all around us and all over the world? The answer to this is incredible but true.

God created us in His own image, and one central quality of this is freedom of will. This freedom dignifies us like Jesus, who freely chose to love his fellowmen at the sacrifice of his own self. For Jesus, this was what it meant to be an image and a temple of God. To freely choose to live and die for the sake of love – the ultimate and only meaning of human life. “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, will all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Lk.10:27). Even more, Jesus taught us: “But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Lk.6:27-28).

Outside my seminary window just the other week, I caught myself contemplating on the carpenters who were cutting down the trees on that piece of land where they will soon build an infirmary for our sick and elderly Jesuits. I became profoundly aware that each one of those humble laborers was an image of God and no less than God’s temple, even if perhaps, they themselves were not explicitly aware of it. My heart was filled with devotion and gratitude as I continued to watch them. My memory and imagination suddenly went back to the person of Jesus the carpenter, no less than God the Son as a devoted and loving worker.

I then became aware of my own self, from the time I was born, all the way to what and where I am right now. I was born as an image and temple of God, all throughout my life, and all these past years of my ministry as a Jesuit priest. Nothing but profound gratitude filled my heart as I looked back to all those years of being God’s image and temple. Deep repentance also filled my heart as I recalled the times when I failed to be God’s image and temple due to my human failures and sinfulness. But the ever-forgiving God kept drawing me back to Himself over and over again. Lord, what an ever-loving and ever-forgiving God You are. My profound gratitude will never cease for the rest of my life.

Going now to my profession as a pastoral counselor, I can honestly say that it makes all the difference when I become aware during our counseling sessions that the counselee, no matter how disturbed and disordered he or she may be, is an image and a temple of his/her Creator. When I am able to succeed in helping the counselee to become aware and feel that he/she is an image and a temple of God the Holy Spirit, it then makes all the difference in the counseling process. This is done at a later stage, after facilitating the ventilation and understanding of the many psychological and emotional dynamics that the counselee is going through. Moreover, this is done, not only in individual counseling situations, but also in premarital, marital, family and group counseling. Each one is facilitated to feel God’s presence within him/her. This psycho-spiritual approach we use is both ecumenical and interfaith.

For the longest time in the past, the professional science of psychology and therapy did not integrate the healing process with spirituality, especially in Western countries. But in recent times, a growing number of professional practitioners and publications have been integrating psychotherapy with spirituality, starting with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Dr. M. Scott Peck, MD, and a later publication by no less than the American Psychological Association, entitled A Spiritual Strategy for Counseling and Psychotherapy, by P. Scott Richards and Allen Bergen. One little quote from the book: “The lesson this experience taught me was that religion may form the basis of a person’s most fundamental beliefs about self, other people, the world, and the nature of human existence. To fail to integrate a person’s most fundamental beliefs into the therapy process is to fail to use the most powerful tools available for therapy.”

Let me conclude that in all areas of profession, a psycho-spiritual approach is a must, most especially in politics. The person of our late senator and community leader and lover, Juan Flavier, is very inspiring indeed. May more and more of our political leaders follow his example of being an image of God and a temple of the Holy Spirit. Amen.











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