Be inspiring to others. It is not enough to be a good Catholic. It’s not enough to live and keep your faith alone. You must inspire others to do good and be good,” exhorted Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB, in a Lenten recollection on March 18 for the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP) community.
The recollection, whose theme was “Soulfood,” focused on being consistent with one’s behavior and beliefs.
“The Church should be authentic,” said Father Robleza. He pointed out that, whether you are for or against President Duterte, whose governance has caused division in the country, perhaps he can be seen as an ambiguous prophet. A conscience-pricker, if you will.
Father Robleza, award-winning author and a sought-after retreat master, has been in touch not only with his contemporaries but also with the youth.
“Millennials are against lack of authenticity,” he explained. “This is the importance of Bible-based teachings, because it takes the teacher’s life out of the discussion and focuses on the Word.”
The Word of God, he said, challenges people to take discipleship seriously.
For instance, in the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, he pointed out the two sides of a disciple: “You choose to spread your light or your shadow. Lent is a challenge to make a choice: Will you be a Lazarus or a Rich Man? Decide to be happy in your faith.”
In the 40-day period of Lent, Catholics practice its three pillars: fasting, giving alms and praying. Father Robleza expounded on each one.
Fasting is denying yourself the pleasures of food and material things such as money, etc. in favor of meekness, the humility to serve without self-interest.
Fast with a peaceful heart. Welcome everything that life brings and carry your cross for others.
Alms-giving is giving generously—versus the loneliness of pride. It is giving not only the excess, but from what you have set aside for yourself, in favor of passion, like Christ’s, with love that gives beyond the breaking point.
For instance, Father Robleza mentioned someone who took on a “hunger challenge,” in which the person donated money he saved up for his Boracay vacation for the less fortunate. Giving not just your extras tells your beneficiary, “I value you. I need it, but I’ll give it to you.”
Give alms with a joyful heart. Be generous, give the best, and save the best for others.
Prayer—versus the emptiness of vanity—is not just for a season but a lifestyle. Pray in favor of enthusiasm, like Christ, the fortitude of ever-fresh motivation.
The secret of enthusiastic people is a clear motivation. Prayer is the source of genuine motivations in life.
Pray with a strong heart, forgive again and again and again. Believe. There is always a reason for everything.
Father Robleza reminded, however, that harm comes to everyone. Being good doesn’t assure you of a comfortable life. Things happen for a reason—if you believe this, you can forgive anything, and it is only in prayer that you can believe that there is a reason.
Meekness, passion, enthusiasm are the traits of disciples who inspire others. To inspire, one must be authentic, and such authentic disciples have their minds, hearts and actions configured to Christ.
As the Church is perceived to be out of touch in today’s world, we need inspiring, authentic believers.
“The Jesus I am trying to become—do I see Him in you?” Father Robleza asked. “Your children, neighbors, spouse, etc. are begging, ‘We wish to see Jesus.’ Ask yourself: ‘Am I an inspiration to nonbelievers?’”
Faith is about friendship with the Lord. No one is left alone—that is why He created the Church, and families are the domestic Church.
Families are the vital cells to transform the world. Families are witnesses to faith, inspiring the world. Starting in your home, model shepherding and hospitality.
When your child leaves home, instead of simply saying, “Ingat” (take care), try instead: “Be a good example to your friends. Inspire your friends.” Looking out just for your child is only being “on maintenance mode.”
The first hospitals are families. Pope Francis mentioned that families are witnesses of the Church’s motherhood.
So, let your family become a little Church that not only cares for each other, but also reaches out to heal society.
What is your family’s contribution—to street children, cancer patients or the elderly? This is a more timely, enduring and genuine show of faith this Lenten season—making even nonbelievers feel they’re part of it.
Father Robleza said that the authenticity of our witness is anchored on our belongingness in the family, which is sealed by the death and resurrection of Christ, celebrated in the Eucharist.
He also noted that while history’s teachers/prophets have said variations of the same things, Christ was the only one to have encouraged us to love our enemies, putting more emphasis to loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us.
Pope Francis’ message to Filipinos during his 2015 visit to the country was, “Your faith is your gift. Share it with joy.”
We are agents of reparation. Let us commit to extend our concern, our preferential option for the poor, through a family advocacy.
We are communities of communion. In daily life, let us care not only for our families.
We are disciples in prayer. Let us connect. Set aside time for family prayer. A praying spirit can understand the mysteries of life. —CONTRIBUTED