Friday, 15 August 2008

The Facebook Experience

Few weeks ago, I used a different photo for my profile in Facebook. This was actually a photo of me with shoulder-length hair, which was taken about ten years ago. The amusing thing was the many comments I received from my friends who were surprised to see how different I looked in the past. After a few days of amusing my facebook friends, I replaced the photo with my original profile photo :)

What I want to share here is the reflection I had during that few days of facebook experience. When I was searching for my old photo album to scan, and looking at myself on that ten-year old photo, I was reminded of my life then. As my friends could see the big difference in how I look and were surprised by it, I too can see the big change in myself and surprised by it. About 12 years ago I left my family and my hometown to pursue my tertiary studies. Being away from family, parents especially ;p , there was practically no limit to what I could do. Unlike my friends, I didn’t feel like I was out of prison (I am blessed with a simple and loving family and there wasn’t a need to run away from them), but it was simply an opportunity to be responsible for my own life. And so I did – I led my life the way I felt like. OK… I think I’m beginning to sound as if I had a super colourful and adventurous life, haha! No, I’m quite a boring person actually – I was never involved in gangs, or drugs or black magic ;p Let’s just say in a nutshell that, I was a terrible witness of the faith (I’m a cradle Catholic, by the way). Other than mechanically fulfilling Sunday obligations, which I’m still surprised I did, my way of life was definitely non-exemplary. I fulfilled the basic requirement of your typical naughty kid – smoked, drank, and was quite fluent in Vulgarian and sign language. I didn’t qualify for the advanced level, though… I didn’t kill anyone or rob any bank. Just the basics :) Ok la, I’m not very proud of it actually. But I’m kinda glad I went through that phase in my life. Why? Cos it is in realizing who I was and what I was doing just a decade ago that I can see and appreciate the transformation I went through to arrive at where I am now.

I’m definitely not a saint now, very far from it actually, but if I were to compare those days with my life now, I can see a huge difference. And the only explanation I can give for my transformation is of course… God!

A friend, after knowing a bit of my past and the company of people I was with, recently asked me how I managed to remain faithful to God all these years. My answer was – I didn’t. God was the one who was ever faithful. With the lifestyle I was living and the people I was mixing with, I could have easily gone beyond the safety zone and messed up my life. But God is like a good father who allows the naughty child to play but still keeps a lookout in case he falls off a cliff and dies. And our God is the perfect Father! It was purely through his mercy that I was spared from falling off the cliff; purely his compassion that took notice of me, a nobody, and invited me into his vineyard to serve; purely his grace that accompanies me into my fifth year in the seminary. I didn’t do much – I just enjoyed his loving presence and went with the flow :)

Whenever I think about me being called into priestly formation, I can’t help but to be amazed and amused by God’s weird sense of logic. Me, imperfect and sinful, being called to be a disciple of his son who is perfect and sinless? You gotta be kidding! It’s like a CEO risking his business by hiring a substandard worker lor… In his homily this morning, Fr Kenson Koh said that God, although himself is perfect, is not a perfectionist. So I guess God doesn’t really mind using a substandard instrument because in the end it is his skills that matters and not the condition of the instrument. Wah, thank God he’s not a perfectionist, otherwise I wouldn’t qualify to be his instrument la! So my song of praise ever since my first year in the seminary has always been the Magnificat, the song of Mary:

My soul glorifies the Lord,

My spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.

He looks on his servant in her lowliness,

Henceforth all ages will call me blessed.

The Almighty works marvels for me,
Holy is his name!

[Luke 1:46-49]

It is overwhelming, even as I write, whenever I think about God, who looks on me in my nothingness. I’m not here to share with you how terrible I was in the past, but to be a testimony of how good and wonderful God is. All I am and all I have today is a pure gift from God, given out of his goodness. Indeed, the Almighty has done great things for me! My dear friends who are reading this blog, I’m also sharing this with you to tell you that God sees something special and beautiful in all of us – yes, including YOU, even if you may not believe it at times.

Today, the Church celebrates the Solemn Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Magnificat is truly her song of praise because she was chosen to be the Mother of God not because of what she did but because of who God is. In her lowliness, Mary was given the gift from God to be free from the stain of sin, to give birth to the Emmanuel, and to be taken up body and soul into the glory of Heaven. The gift, as we know, is free. All Mary did was to accept the gift with an open and humble heart, and “believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.” [Luke 1:45]


Christopher said...

Thank you very much for your sharing Brother Sam! =) It was very useful for me!

sam said...

Hi Christopher,

I'm glad the sharing was relevant for you. Praise God!

May all of us continue to allow God's mighty hands to work in our lives!

Mariana said...

wow! ur blog made me realise that God loves his children no matter how naughty they are. thank you brother.