Faith in daily life
Weekly, I organize a visit to one of our forty-eight chapels in Lourdes Parish.
Along with the members of the Parish Pastoral Council and other Ministries, we strive to get to know the chapel leaders, the families around the chapel and their situation.
Through this weekly dialogue of life, I get in touch with my parishioners in order to pray with them, learn from them and reflect together with them.
They give me honest feedback of our pastoral ministry.
Since June, I have visited so far twelve.
Some of these are in well-off subdivisions with a clean and tidy environment.
Others are in slum areas with slippery and muddy pavement prone to flooding when it rains.
The reception we get are varied.
Sometimes they come in big crowd from chapels within depressed areas; other times we get a handful participants in the beautiful, well-kept chapels in the more affluent villages.
The work of fostering growth in the Christian life in the parish is a slow and tiring process.
One of the questions we ask those gathered is this: how important is the parish for you?
We get encouraging answers.
The parish is where our Christian life begins and hopefully where it ends; it’s a place where we gather as a community of faith to be strengthen and nourished by the Word of God and the Eucharist; it’s the center of our spirituality.
I realize the parish is directly answering a basic need — the need for salvation.
We, in the parish, are to strive that our people stay in touch with its center who is Christ.
In today’s gospel (Mk 8:27-35), we see Jesus on the road visiting communities and villages.
They reached Caesarea Philippi, a pilgrim center of paganism.
This city was built by King Philip, Herod the Great’s son who wanted to perpetuate his own memory.
This site was meant to honor Emperor Caesar with a magnificent marble temple as well as other “gods” like Zeus, Bal and Pan.
Jesus precisely chose this place to question his disciples of his identity: who do people say I am?
Peter got it right: You are the Christ!
It was a moment of light for the fisherman.
In fact, he received a personal blessing for it; but such an answer was a special revelation from above.
It really takes faith to acknowledge Jesus as our Messiah and Lord.
Jesus demands a personalization of this faith for each of us.
Such faith becomes a deeply rooted conviction that provides certainly and strength to love him and suffer for him.
Because whoever wishes to follow him “must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
This faith enables us to become like a grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies.
Jesus is teaching us that only in the process of suffering can transformation happen.
Through suffering, true commitment is revealed and faith is purified.
We need to embrace our daily difficulties, ineffectiveness, struggles and pains in union with Christ every day.
Holding such faith even in dark times may be the catalyst for a better world.
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