I visited the Philippines for Holy Week. It has been decades since I last spent Holy Week in my native country. For some reason Holy Week seemed different to me.
When I was growing up I distinctly remember how
different Holy Week was from any other times of the year. For one thing you couldn't watch anything on TV other than religious movies. I must have seen Charlton Heston's Ten Commandments a thousand times (for the record, I never get tired of it!). The usual programming on the radio was not available either. All you could hear was the chanting of psalms. I commented to my relatives how things have changed. If I didn't know it was Holy Week I wouldn't have known. TV's and radios were running their normal programs. I barely heard anything religious on TV or the radio. It made me wonder if Christ is still relevant in people's lives.
For Good Friday we decided to visit Mount Makulot in Cuenca, Batangas and hike their famed Stations of the Cross. I was expecting a lot of people because it was Good Friday but was surprised how quickly we found parking spaces for our caravan of 3 cars. At the base of the mountain is the small church of St. Isidore. There I met this old lady and her daughter - they were both 'cashew' vendors.
|St. Isidore Church|
I asked them how business was going and with a look of dejection they replied: "Business is really bad. We don't know how we're going to make ends meet. There are not that many people around to hike the Stations. In prior years we would have sold our bags of cashews before 9 a.m." It was already 10:30 a.m. and I can see they both have two bags full.
The daughter said, "Life's so hard, I don't think people still believe."
It made me think, "Can life be so hard that it
overwhelms people to the point they stopped believing in the Lord?" "Perhaps if life's not too hard people can hear the Lord better", I wondered.
We were invited for dinner at one of our friends'
home. These friends were very well to do and live in a gated golf club community. I am not exaggerating when I say we passed by five, yes five, security guard stations before we finally made it to the their palatial home overlooking the golf course. During dinner I was thinking about the flight of the poor people who, because of the hardness of life, seem to have given up on the Lord. I wondered about what my rich friends thought about this. I was surprised to find they haven't been to church in a long while. Too busy with the golf games, they say.
If the poor stopped hearing the Lord because of all their troubles, and the rich can't hear Him because of their busy-ness, who still hears the Lord?
The answer is - "the one who gives Him time."
The one who takes the time to find ways to get
closer to Him in spite of all the trials and busy-ness of life. I bet you already knew that, didn't you? After all, you took the time to read this lengthy correspondence. You cared enough to find out if there's some other way you can hear the Lord better. Thanks for taking the time. Thank you as well for being a Catholic World Mission supporter. More importantly, thanks for not only listening to the Lord but also acting on His plea to help alleviate physical and spiritual sufferings in the world. Your contributions have made a lot of difference in people's lives. You can always tell the people who's been listening to the Lord from their actions. Keep on listening. The Lord hears. Happy Easter.