Beyond My Eyes Can See
Unworthy I maybe, but still GOD gave me the chance to qualify in seeking His plans for me to be one of His servants. Along the way, it was a long and winding journey that made me realize that I will have to submit myself to all the arrays of possibilities He has in-stored and designed for me.
The Gospel reading specifically taken from Mark 1:14-20 can be knitted on the focal point of God’s call. Particularly in the Gospel, Jesus proposes an incitement to the fishermen to leave their nets. It is given that freedom is God’s gift to humanity aside from the life that we have and the unconditional love that we are recipients of. Salvation is freedom from our wrong doings that lead us to sin and commit evil acts. Indeed, God respects the individual differences of each human person and his capabilities that ultimately pave the way to mark the choices that comes from his heart. Undeniably, the genuine work of God is tantamount to his respect for the individual person and their unbreakable freedom to decide.
I personally experienced the freedom when I responded to the call of God. My engagement with God started with my mother being a devotee of the Holy Child Jesus, Señor Sto. Niño. She inspired me to live and consider a life of service to God. When I was six years old, I had hernia and my mother offered her prayers and intentions to the Child Jesus so that I would be healed from such ordeal. With Sto. Niño’s grace, I was healed. I also witnessed from her that at times when I or any member of the family was sick, my mother goes to the Basilica del Sto. Niño and connects with God by attending the Novena Masses, lights a candle and “magpa-sinulog” . These practices also became my routine and I cannot explain the inner dynamics that happens within me every time I do such. The feeling was instrumental in my way to find God in my life as well. Eventually, I also became a devotee of the child Jesus and go to mass at the Basilica every Fridays and Sundays.
Many years ago, I became aware and was acquainted with the Augustinians and heard their vocation campaign that enticed me. I even considered to be like them in the days to come. If my memory serves me right, it was very clear to me of how attracted I was to the Friars wearing their uniform (that was the term I used before) and the way the religious priests gave their homilies. On the other hand, my devotion to Señor Sto. Niño grew since my elementary days until the time that I became a professional, and the more now that I am already a Novice of the said Order.
When I was still working, I usually file for a vacation leave just to complete the nine (9) days novena in honor of Señor Sto. Nino. These were the moments when every time I attended the novena masses, my special intentions and prayers were answered and the more my faith experience was deepened and became stronger. I can personally account that I am gracefully blessed after every novena and whatever comes along for the year, I felt that I was always directed and guided by Him. I admit that my life before was never easy. Even though I was the youngest of four children, I portrayed the role of the eldest child in the family without anybody telling me and I was able to function well. I was aware that with what I was doing there would be expected issues I would be encountering as a person in portraying the roles and functions in the family. But I still managed to portray that role because in my heart I knew that my intentions are for real and for the best of the family that I dearly love. The experiences I went through molded me to become a better person and it has contributed a lot to my discernment. Considering that the life I used to have was already very fulfilling and satisfying to me and to my family, I was not fully happy at all. I was looking for something more in life and my heart was restless. With so much prayer coupled with spiritual direction, I reached the decision, entered religious life, and submitted myself to formation.
I attempted more than once to enter religious life. Unfortunately, it did not materialized the way I perceived it to be. There were many external loci of control and forces that blocked me from following God. The issue with regard to my vocation commitment was tested and I was not that strong enough to fully embrace and fight for my vocation especially if my family is confronted with concerns and problems. Since I am so attached with my family, I always feel that their lives would surely be better if I am around to help and support them in their difficulties. Another concern that I also need to look into was my personal dynamics. I used to express then that “I can’t give something that I don’t have and charity always begins at home”. For in my quest to find God, I consciously and unconsciously hurt others and that was so pressing and painful for me. Both parties were hurt and I was also in pain, and that made me decide to leave the seminary formation and find out if there were other plans God has designed for me. I strongly believed that there were things that I needed to revisit especially about myself outside the seminary formation so that I could clearly see and discover myself more on my way to becoming a servant of God.
During the time when I was outside the seminary, it seemed to me that everything in life was fleeting except my relationship with God. I felt all of the if’s and the but’s. If I could have stayed and just submitted myself to the process of formation, then I knew that the grace of God would further sustain me. But I needed to account the fact that the scenarios that I went through were not helpful anymore and I could no longer see myself with what I was doing. If I could have stayed longer, I do not think it would be facilitative to my growth and development as a person. After a stormy yet a fruitful experience, I realized that I honestly lacked the faith experience − half-heartedly believing in the intervention of God in the ordeals and difficulties that I went through. As a result, I did all things on my own, undermining the will and the grace of God for me.
Just like the experiences of the disciples, Jesus works in ways that we do not understand out rightly. I never thought that the career opportunities and the highly esteemed job I had prepared and helped me discern intently to become a Religious. That was my heart’s desire and I truly longed to see the face of God to all the people that I deal with. I may went through many detours in life but what was important were the lessons that I learned along the experiences. Now, I have fully concretized and understood that engaging myself to Him will never be easy. I will definitely go through a lot but what matters most was my choice to follow Christ. When I chose to follow Him, I made my own decision and nobody ever forced me to do so. This was where my inviolable freedom originated that truly comes from my heart − the freedom to choose God above all the things in this world and to make Him the center of my life.
Along the way, I was also blessed with unexpected people that God gave me and sincerely journeyed with me. I have come to a deeper self-introspection that they were all a part of the person I am today on my way to serve God and His church. Since then, unknowingly I have been serving God and will continue to be a gentle servant to Him and to the people that He will entrust me.
Now, I am already a Novice but I still have a long way to go. I admit that it is going to be very hard and difficult. I need to start all over again and to be vulnerable to the array of experiences God has planned for me. Honestly, I still have this fear of what if it is not going to work out again. But there is one thing I am certain of: I can never go wrong for I am engaging myself with Him and I know that there is still something more in life beyond my eyes can see.
Bro. Jeffrey Uy, Augustinian Novice