Shake Well Before Using

April 9, 2023 – Easter Sunday

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What is the purpose of life? What is life all about? Why do we have to suffer through life? How can we move on with life? Where is God in all these?

During pandemic times & even now in the New Normal period, I have been confronted with these questions from people, especially young people, who are looking and searching for meaning and directions in life. To be honest, I too had raised these questions and have grappled with finding answers. Not without difficulty however I somehow discover an answer that makes sense and suits me. I found it from a book called The Gospel according to Peanuts by Robert Short that was based on Peanuts comic strips with characters like Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and others, created by cartoonists Charles Schulz. In one of its comic strips, it simply says: We are like a bottle of medicine where God puts a label on it to make sure: “Shake Well Before Using”.

If we really come to think of it, such simple line says a lot about these questions in life.

Yes, indeed we are like a bottle of medicine. On our own and for our own sake, we are no one… we are nothing. But with others and for the sake of others, we are someone…we are something. And to be and remain something effective and someone important in life, we have to go through a lot of shaking and moving. Even we like it or not, we need to be shaken and disturbed once in a while,… or else we remain nothing and worthless. So to make sure our value and sense in life, God has to shake us, not for the sake of shaking itself, nor only for our own sake, but for the sake of Him and others – that we may be a medicine to others and each other. The spiritual guru Henry Nouwen calls this “wounded healers”, in which, with and through our wounds and woundedness we also become healers & medicine of others and for others.

If we also come to think of it, being shaken well by God has always been part of the story of our faith and life.

Last night’s review of our salvation of history in the scriptures reminds us that shaking and to be shaken well has always been part of our growth in faith and life. Ever since the creation of the universe from chaos to order, the rescue of Israelites from the power of Egypt, the building of Israel as nation, the establishment of covenant with Israel, the empty tomb and the resurrection of the Lord, and our baptism now and again in Christ, we are continually been moved and shaken by God well, not for our own sake but for the sake of Him and others. The symbol of Fire and Water, the reading of scriptures and the celebration of Eucharist in our liturgy last night are witness to the whole passage of shaking we go through in life for us to have meaning, direction and worth in life.

Today we proclaim Jesus has risen, Alleluia. We Christians remember, celebrate, and believe that Jesus has risen indeed in our lives. We can even dare to proclaim that He has risen Again and Anew in our life today. Again, because in almost every year of our Christian faith and life, we celebrate His resurrection.

But he has also risen Anew with us now, because our encounter of His resurrection will never be the same as before. Yes, Jesus always resurrects in us, and He reveals to us as uniquely as before. Nabanhaw siya kanunay kanato apan lahi ra sama kaniadto. He is still Jesus, but He is now Christ, the risen Lord.

Every Easter seasons, we may say then, are God’s time of year of shaking us before using. Just as the women & the disciples found an empty tomb and met the Lord on their way back, and the way we struggle & cope with the trying times of Covid-19 pandemic these recent past years, during this years’ Easter season, same as ever, there will be more shaking going on, and more to happen in our Christian faith and life.

Let us not forget then whatever happens and how the shaking ever happens, all of these will not be on our own and for our own sake but with and for the sake of Him and others. Remember, We are part of His great plan of scheme. Let us be open and allow ourselves to be shaken, to be moved, to be disturbed again and anew, for in this way, we participate in His work of salvation in our lives. If and when however we get lost along the way and find life meaningless and without direction, perhaps we may be consoled by Charles Schulz words: We are like a bottle of medicine where, God puts a label on it to make sure: “Shake Well Before Using.”

Happy Easter to All. At Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.


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