A period waiting: A test of faith and hope

“ May we never lose patience and hope in any painful period of waiting. May God strengthen us in every dark moment of life!

IT’S been five weeks since Malaysia Airlines 370 was reported missing and, still, it has not been found despite massive search of several countries.

Families have been grieving almost endlessly, and at the same time are  still hoping that they will find an answer to this mystery.

Indeed, there is pain in waiting for a long time. It tests hearts; it challenges many people to be patient, strong and hopeful.

But I realized, too, that the length of time of patiently enduring one’s pain, challenges and struggles could speak of one’s faith in God.

It’s been 25 years since Maria last went to confession. She had been feeling bad about this, but she had been hoping that once she and her husband get married in the church, she would be able to go to confession to be worthy to receive communion.

Finally, last Saturday, her dream came through when she and her husband tied the knot in church. She could not control her tears, being reconciled with God and finally receiving communion. They were tears of joy!

It’s been 16 years since a fellow priest was ordained, and now after ministering in various places, he realized God’s fidelity to him, despite his many struggles.

It’s been 9 years since one of our church volunteers served free coffee and doughnut after the 8am mass. This is what I learned last Sunday.  The years went by so fast without me realizing it.

I remember how he and his wife, in the past nine years, underwent several crises. His wife almost died of a heart attack.

A few years later, after recovering from this illness, his wife learned that she had cancer. It’s been nine years now, and thank God, his wife is still alive and also continues to serve the church.

Many of us can also say similar sentiments of faith and hope. It’s been 40 years since you were married… it’s been 16 years since your mother died…it’s been ten years since you’ve been away from home.

For me, it’s been twelve years since I started serving Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.

In all these years of patiently working and enduring hardships, we can all say that God has lifted us many times from dark periods and has shown us his faithfulness.

The core message of the Gospel is hope for those who believe in God, in Jesus Christ. As we heard in the Gospel last Sunday, Jesus assured Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who believes in me will never die.”

Patient endurance and belief in the abiding presence of God are what we need to lead our lives.

As we celebrate Palm Sunday, let us praise and worship Jesus, the embodiment of hope.

He endured pain, suffering and death as he entered the city of Jerusalem. He bore his cross and endured his crucifixion and death, to show us that there is hope beyond suffering, as long as we believe in Him!

May we never lose patience and hope in any painful period of waiting. May God strengthen us in every dark moment of life!

* * *

Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas attended St. John Seminary in Camarillo, California and earned his Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri.  For twenty years, he has been in the parish ministry of large multi-cultural communities.  Since 2002, he has been the pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Los Angeles. Please email Fr. Rodel at [email protected].

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