Pinalapit ni Jesus ang mga tao kasama ang kaniyang mga alagad at sinabi sa kanila: Ang sinumang nagnanais sumunod sa akin, tanggihan niya ang kaniyang sarili, pasanin ang kaniyang krus at sumunod sa akin. Ito ay sapagkat ang sinumang nagnanais na magligtas ng kaniyang buhay ay mawawalan nito. Datapuwat ang sinumang mawalan ng buhay dahil sa akin at sa ebanghelyo ay maililigtas niya ito. Ano ang mapapakinabangan ng isang tao kung makamtan man niya ang buong sanlibutan at mawala ang kaniyang kaluluwa? Ano ang maibibigay ng tao bilang kapalit ng kaniyang kaluluwa?
Kapag naalala ko yung mga bagay na pinaniniwalaan ko nung bata pa ako ay hindi ko maiwasang mapangiti. Palibhasa ako ang bunso sa bahay, madalas akong pagluruan ng mga kapatid ko at biruin sa maraming mga bagay. Aalala ko, summer nuon, dahil bata pa ako, excited na excited ako mag-swimming. Isang hapon ng linggo ay itinatanong ko kung saan kame papunta at ang sinabi sa aking ng mga kapatid ko ay “sa Matang-tubig”. At ng tinanong ko sila kung ano ang gagawin namin dun, sa sabi nila sa aking ay mag-suswimming. Now, I imagine may disappointment when we got there saw a church rather than a beach or a pool. (Hay naku, pasaway talaga ang matatanda. hehe.) Another similar incident happened to me which I think is much worst than this. Nuong bata pa ako, kapag dumaaan kame dyan sa Luneta, madalas kong marinig na sinasabi ni Daddy na ninong niya si Jose Rizal. I used to hold unto that belief until the time I embarassingly mentioned this to my High School classmates and scolded me about it for years.
Katulad ng aking karanasan, marahil marami sa atin ang may mababaw na pagkaunawa sa bagay sa buhay na nung tumanda tayo ay napalitan na ng mas malalim pagtingin sa buhay. Nuong nakaraang linggo ay pinaliwanag po ng iyong lingkod na ang kahulugan ng pananamapalataya ay higit pa relihiyong tinanggap ng ating magulang bagkus ang pangunahin dito ay ang pagkakaroon ng personal na kaugnayan kay Hesus. At bilang pagpapatuloy sa ating pinasimula natin nuong nakaraan linggo ay nais pong pag-usapan ng inyong lingkod ang ibig sabihin ng pagkakaroon ng pananampalataya or “having faith”.
Growing up in a Christian family, I have learned at a very early age that “our life is very much integrated with the Christian religion”. My father is Pastor, my grand father from both sides (Mommy and Daddy) are pastors. Even my uncles and nephews are pastors. I specifically lived within the “Unida” tradition which takes service to God very seriously and devotion or loyalty to it has became a requirement for family members. Making sense of it while I was still young, I naturally equated membership to the Filio family as my membership to the Christian family as well. Having faith or “pagkakaroon ng pananampalataya” then means being part of this family. At katulad nung natutunan ko na ang Matang-tubig ay hindi beach resort at Jose Rizal ay hindi ninong ni Daddy, I’ve discovered that being part of a Christian family heritage does mean I automatically becomes, in the truest sense of the word, “Christian”.
Ito ang nagtulak sa inyong lingkod upang tukuying ang mas malalim na pagkakaunawa sa salitang: pagkakaroon ng pananampalataya o “having faith”. At ito ang magiging tema po natin ngayon umaga: ang natutunan ay tunay na pagkahulugan ng pagkakaroon ng pananampalataya. (Read the theme verse)
Ang talatang ating binasa ay tatlong ulit naisulat sa bagong tipan. Ang binasa natin ay matatagpuan sa Marcos at yung dalawa ay sa Mateo at Lucas. Now, the fact that it was mentioned on these three separate books means it deserves our attention but it is rather noteworthy to notice that each verses where written using the exact same words. (This is in Greek, of course). New Testament scholarship unanimously agrees that the sentence: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” is central to what it means to become a Christian because almost all of Jesus followers have memorized it line by line. Exposition on this few words will need a separate discussion but it is suffice to say that for the early Christians, having faith means being transformed to be like Jesus or “Spiritual Transformation”. Ang pagkakaroon ng pananampalataya ay pagkakaroon ng binagong-buhay.
Sa tradition ng Baclaran, may dalawang uri tayo ng pagkaunawa sa pagkakaroon ng binagong-buhay. Ang una ay pagiwas sa bisyo o sa kasalanan. Again, I would be the first to admit that “yes” it is important for Christian to live free from sins but making this central has paralyzed a lot of us who are under these vices from taking that first step of being transformed in Christ which is coming after him. Read again the verse: the first thing is coming after him which results to turning away from sins. Marami ko na pong beses narinig sa ating mga miyembro na umiiwas na usapan tungkol sa pagbabagong-buhay at nagsasabi: “Saka lang muna yan boy kapag nagawa ko nang iwan ang bisyo.” This has radically shifted our focus from the importance of being in a relationship with Jesus which results a holy life to made it became a measure upon which we can attain perfection. Seeking after Jesus for help to overcome sinfulness is a vital means for Spiritual transformation. Without Jesus, it just a mere human effort to attain perfection. Ang pangalawang pagkaunawa natin sa pagkakaroon ng binagong-buhay ay pagiging “masipag sa paglingkod” o “faithful service”. Ito ay nagiging bahagi na ng kultura sa Baclaran na kung papansinin natin ay madalas nating marinig tuwing visitation ang paanyayang “maging mainit muli sa paglilingkod”. At the risk to repeating myself, I would again like to emphasize that there is nothing wrong with being faithful to a duty or a task but there is danger whenever we make this central and above having a relationship with Jesus. It is often assumed that transformation happens whenever we faithfully attends all our church services, worship, practices and ministries. And yet we ourselves are aware that there are people who we know are still very far from being Christ-like.
So how then transformation happens? What is central to being transformed by Christ? Spiritual transformation happens whenever we look pass these things we normally see and experience in church and allow ourselves to me moved by God himself through a personal encounter with him. How can we do that in practice? There are no hard rules to follow but a lot of people (ancient and modern) recorded similar ways of experiencing God personally. I can only make a suggestion to you which I believe worked for me as well. I added a very important ingredient to my prayer life which is listening. I have spent most of my praying for asking God about something or tell him about something that concerns me. While it is important to pray this way, it also equally important to intentional pray silently before God and listen to what He has to say. Sinamantala ko yung mga pagkakataon na mag-isa akong bumabiyahe sa MRT at imbes na matulog, I start my praying by saying “Speak to me O, God. Your servant listens” I then rest my thoughts on God. This has made me explore God in ways I could not imagine. And since these are all happening aside from what I do inside the church, I became much involved with God beyond the borders of our church. This helped a lot because in my journey I met other Christians which encourage me to make my faith public and not just a private family matter. With this fresh encounter with God and his people, I began to see things in a new way. I began to see my life inside the Kingdom God with Jesus as my Lord and King.
Ang vision ng ating pastor ay magkaroon ng church-wide Spiritual Transformation sa Baclaran para sa taong ito at ang hamon sa bawa’t isa sa atin ngayon umaga ay magkaroon binagong-buhay sa pamamagitan ng personal na pakikipagunay kay Hesus.