February 2, 2021 – On this Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Bishop Jose Rapadas III, Bishop of Iligan presided the mass to celebrate the “World Day of Consecrated Life.” Bishop Rapadas asked these questions among us religious in his diocese, “As a consecrated person, what are you most grateful for? What gift you are asked to give in return?”
Below is the transcript of my own reflection delivered during the mass.
“I am Jom. I am a Redemptorist Missionary. I was professed in 2012 and was ordained in 2017. I am 31 years. I was recently asked to move here in Iligan last August 2020.
As a consecrated person, what am I you most grateful for?
RELATIONSHIPS, FRIENDSHIPS – These are the gifts that I have grown in gratitude this time. (aside from the usual like the gift of life) And as a millennial priest I also recognize the need to relate, to build friendship, to feel being loved and to love. These are facts and gifts that I believe what I really need that I may be able also to grow continually as a person and as a Redemptorist Missionary.
Thus, my Redemptorist community, with all its imperfections and weaknesses is something that I am very grateful for. It is through my community that I have been affirmed many times. People also have recognized and affirmed me. This did not only boosted my self-confidence but also added to my conviction that I am gifted in one way or another. And that these gifts in me are not for me alone but to be shared in my own way of life as a Redemptorist Missionary. However, it is also around here that at times I feel uneasy being affirmed, simply because affirmation and recognition can also be intoxicating.
Indeed, affirmations and recognitions can be quite overwhelming. I recognize that these can be forms of temptations where I will grow over-confident, self-satisfied and arrogant because of what I have achieved and gained. And my Redemptorist community served also as my own mirror to see my own inadequacy and the need to grow more and to develop as a better person. Thus, being corrected and being confronted of my own weaknesses and failures have helped me a lot to know myself better and to respond responsibly.
Outside my own Redemptorist Community, I also recognize the gift of friendship that I have developed among the people, among our parishioners, among the different ministries that I am involved in and the gift of friendship that I continue to develop and to nurture.
These friendships outside my religious community have given me not just affirmations but also opportunities for me to express intimacy, to express love and concern without crossing and abusing boundaries. Those friendships that I have with individuals and families have helped me better understand that it is indeed possible to love without exclusivity in the religious vocation, and that it is possible to express intimacy, to be loved and to be loving in my religious vocation.
With all of these, through the gift of relationships and friendships, what I also believe that I am called to give now in return is the gift of my presence as a friend, as a pastor, as priest and as a missionary. The gift of my presence, as I have become aware, involves many demands from me. I know that to give ones presence will not be easy. To be able to give fully my presence into the other would always require me to let go of my own comforts, to let go of my biases and even in many ways, to let go of my tendency to keep myself at a safe distance.
Yet, as Pope Francis said, as a religious, I too am called to live the gospel with joy which can only be possible when I also become more generous of myself to others most particularly in my ministry.
Being called to give that gift of presence to the people or the church, calls me further to be life-giving both in my words and also in my actions. And I recognize that this will not be easy and again it will demand more from me. But joy and the fullness of life will surely be a reality for me once I will be able to give more life to others. Hinaut pa.