Braving the storm

GOD’S WORD TODAY - Jonjee C. Sumpaico, S.J. - The Philippine Star

As I watched a movie when sailors were being buffeted by storms in the open sea, the image that stuck in my mind were the letters tattooed on the fingers of an old deckhand. Holding on for his dear life, he held on to a rope that was his lifeline. On his digits showed the letters, H-O-L-D-F-A-S-T. Perhaps it was not just a reminder for him during the storm. Rather it may have been a value that the old man found really important to mark himself with. It may have been a message that he earlier imbibed as he had been living this out even during more calm moments of his journey as a seaman.

Holding fast is fidelity. It is faithfulness that asks for courage despite the storms of life that one encounters. One may be filled with fear or terror, but the courage to hold on and stay on course brings about a profound strength that comes from within – of even holding on to One who is greater than any difficult situation that one finds himself in.

As we begin our remembrance of Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection, we recall Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. We celebrate this by the palms that we wave during this Sunday. We mark our journeys with Jesus not with a triumphant entry. But rather, welcoming Him with the things that we find around us and even within us as well.

The people of Jerusalem welcomed Him by spreading their cloaks on the road or with greenery that they have cut from the fields. With shouts of blessings, they welcomed Jesus in. We welcome Jesus by bringing ourselves and placing all that we have and all who we are before him as we enter this holy week.

Jesus did not enter Jerusalem like a victorious military or political leader seeking attention. Instead, he entered Jerusalem seated on a borrowed colt as He welcomed the people around him as they were, while holding fast to where His Father’s love has brought him.

Instead of proclaiming that He is greatest, Jesus brings us to the realization that if we really want to be the greatest, we ought to be the servant of others first.

He did enter Jerusalem not knowing what his exact fate will be. He only had a felt understanding that something fatal will happen to him as a consequence of holding fast only to His Father’s assuring love. And his journey has led Him to this.

Perhaps, it may be good to also beg for that same grace as we choose to follow Jesus during this Holy Week. As we ask for God’s assuring love, we also ask for the grace to be placed close to His Son. We ask that our senses by opened – that we may have a sensus Christi.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola best explains this grace by talking to God in prayer.

He asks those who want to follow Jesus that instead of asking for riches, fame, or power, they might want to consider the opposite choices that Jesus took. For Christ’s true disciples, this week is a special week to follow Him in. Following him will go against the very values that the world makes important. Following Him means that the most important thing that we can do in our lives is to put Christ at center.

To follow Christ is to forget personal gain. To follow Christ is to be happy to serve and work at the sidelines. To follow Christ is to understand that in having no power, we hold on to God alone.

A lot of people will disagree with this, especially when one’s comfort zones are challenged. A lot of people will consider a faithful follower of Christ as a fool and even persecute them in doing so.

When you find yourself in that tight squeeze or when your back is against the wall, offer the experience to the Lord as you journey with Him in this Holy Week.

Stay true. Hold fast. Follow Jesus Christ. Let Jesus take the lead… AND LISTEN TO HIM.

I leave you with an adapted prayer of the Anima Christi for this Holy Week that was written by Fr. Joseph Tetlow, S.J. Take time out and pray even more as we choose to follow and hold fast to Christ during these special times of braving the storm with Jesus.

“I choose to breathe the Breath of Christ that makes all life holy.

I choose to live the flesh of Christ that outlasts sin’s corrosion and decay.

I choose the Blood of Christ along my veins that dizzies me with joy.

I choose the living waters flowing from His side to wash clean my own self and the world itself.

I choose the awful agony of Christ to charge my senseless sorrows with meaning and to make my pain pregnant with power.

I choose You, good Jesus, You know.

I choose You, Good Lord; count me among the victories that you have won in bitter woundedness.

Never number me among those alien to You.

Make me safe from all that seeks to destroy me.

Summon me when I come to close my eyes in death.

Summon me to come to You.

Stand me solid among angels and saints chanting yes to all You have done, exulting in all You mean to do forever and ever.

Then for this time, Father of all, keep me, from the core of my self, choosing Christ in the world.


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