Nowadays everyone has his own definition and description of God.
Not that God can ever be defined, described or explained, but I will give it a try.
Not that there is a need to define and explain God, but in these most confusing times ... you need a moment to think. You need some time to have a sense of rooting.
You have to make a stand.
More than that, you have to assure yourself that amidst the chaos that greets you every morning with your cup of coffee ...that there is still a Higher Power up there, somewhere ... somehow ...who shall make sure that rhyme, reason and direction will give form to what looks like unbridled insanity.
I assure myself that there is a God because amidst all this chaos are people, events and places full of wonderment. I know that there is a God because I, like the rest of men --- regardless of status, degree of wealth or education --- can love this life and this world for all the right reasons.
There is a reason why I am here, why things happen the way they do. Even if it is sometimes so difficult for me to understand why outcomes turn out to be such ironic conclusions, in the long run ... all shall fit in like some perfectly made puzzle. Everything happens for a reason. Everything will be understood in its own time. And the world does not owe me any explanation. They happen because they are meant to happen.
And that is because Somebody designed this beautiful complex life of ours.
If I can bring change because change is needed, then I must do what I must do. If what happens is beyond my control, outside the reach and realm of my powers, then I must accept. I may not agree but I must accept. More so, I must understand.
But in these most troubled times, there are too many wise men.
There are too many assuming authority. There are too many spokespersons for the Lord. Some speak with the fire of faith inasmuch as it accommodates human reason. But others would prefer to shout rather than speak hoping that by sheer volume of voice, all questions will be drowned out and answers will not be demanded.
This does not and cannot happen any more. No settlement, no acceptance, no peace shall be made ... if there is no understanding of why things are the way they are. Acceptance cannot be obtained with the price of vociferous threats.
There are so many opinions pretending to be cannons.
There are so many interpretations assuming to be explanations ... and justifications. And you can be swept by the current, eaten by the tide only to reach the shore feeling dizzy but not contented with the ground where you have been simply been dragged to stand on.
Inasmuch as there is need for faith, there is an equal imperative to think.
What is important is to take a moment of silence in order to think.
And so I gave it a lot of thought.
I was born and raised a Catholic.
My mother was a devout Catholic who would trek to Baclaran every Wednesday as a devotee of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. My earliest recollections of school was attending a High Mass to ordain a Dominican priest at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran. When I moved to the enclave of the Christian Brothers, I made an effort to attend nine straight First Friday masses. We were told this gave us an assurance to enter heaven.
But now I begin to wonder whether all that made a lot of sense. Will a perfect attendance to nine first Friday masses really give me an exclusive ticket to the Pearly Gates? That was something you fed to a Grade School boy who was in awe of the rites and the sacraments ... and looked up to the religious as if wings would sprout from their backs to guide good Catholic toddlers to heaven.
During my intermediate years all the way to high school, I made it a point to have a rosary in my pocket because that was the mark of a true La Sallian.
And now ... years later, with changes shaping and reshaping the world around me, there are inevitable questions where once there was such certainty.
Growing up changes a lot of things. Education is meant to feed the mind ... and more often than not, what is nourished by the menu of ideas is further confusion. Growing up is acknowledging that aside from black and white, there is an entire spectrum in the shades of gray.
I learned to disagree with what the men of the Church dictated... most especially in the stands they took involving issues affecting the lives of others and the choices that men and women make.
I am careful not to make hasty generalizations. The thoughts and works of the men who ran the Church does not necessarily mean that this is the Catholic Church itself ... or God at work. I believe they are still men interpreting what they believe is the Word of God.
And men are men. They are imperfect. They are fallible. They are ruled by biases. They cannot assume the thoughts of God. For no one can say that he, as a mortal being despite all his years of scholarship and dedication of a life devoted to holiness, can speak the tongue of the Lord.
Still like all mortals, they work on the premise of perception and interpretation and explanation. They refer to the Good Book, pointing out words and using the authority of their scholarship to say that it is their interpretation that is correct. Or absolute.
Unfortunately, no interpretation whatsoever can claim to be such. No explanation of man can truly be the Absolute Word of God.
And thus I dance in my confusion as I try my best to understand the God that I know, the God that I love. This is the God who never betrayed me. He may not have answered all my prayers, He may have sent some of the biggest hurts to shake my life ... but He never abandoned me. And this does not seem like the God that those of so-called authority claim Him to be.
The God that I know disdained any form of prejudice. He never shied away from the vagabonds inasmuch as He understood those who moved in the circles of powers and privilege. But He was not particularly fond of that.
The God that I know is simple. He was never dressed in riches. He never chose to live in abodes of ornamentation. He was, after all, a carpenter's son. And being God, He did not need the sheen of gold nor the sparkle of gems to prove to the world of His significance and importance.
He is a God who knew men because He was made man.
He practiced what He preached for the Jesus I have learned from the past moved among the most common of men, interacted with the lowest of the lows and did not insulate Himself in palaces of comfort or thrones of carved wood.
The Jesus they taught me in the Good Book cavorted with carpenters, fishermen ...and even women of ill repute --- women who were others ostracized by society but who He embraced with the same love and compassion as those who surrendered to His blessings. That was the greatest lesson He taught me. Regardless of where I am and who I become, my greatest commitment is to my fellow man ... of whatever social station. Because it is in your understanding of fellow man that you live the life He led. Because it is in your commitment to humanity that you achieve your own limited godliness.
And that was because the God that I love was sent by His Father to be a human --- and displayed a human character as well. For He loved the company of friends and never considered Himself above the rest. He spoke with Authority because He lived by what he preached. And his Authority came from the fact that He is his Word.
He never yearned for power to govern men and rule their minds. His only concern was to teach selflessness and commitment to the goodness of mankind ...and not politicking to find a niche in the structures of human power games.
The only power He displayed is his compassion for others and His inexhaustible selflessness that became a Living Example of a Life Blessed and True. Yes, He distinguished Right from Wrong ... inasmuch as He reminded all that Goodness comes from within because we are all made of God's image, thus shaped out of His Goodness. And that we do what is right because it is right and not only because somebody else us to do so.
We do what is right because it is right ... and not because we expect to be rewarded with Heaven or condemned with Hell.
We do what is right because that is what we owe to God ... and to our fellow men.
And what is right is to Love unselfishly. What is right is to find expressions and embodiment of Love. And the Love that the God that I know showed me was one that defied boundaries, shunned definitions but insisted on the sublimity of selflessness and unconditional commitment. The God that I know never turned His back on the weakness of Man but rather posed this as a challenge and a reason to achieve greater godliness despite the impossibility of being such.
It is in the weakness of being human that we are imperfect. And it is because of our imperfections that we are unique ... and it is in our uniqueness that God loves us inasmuch as He challenges us to become better ... to be good.
This is the God that I know.
This is the God I talk to when I see images of such great distress and pain --- like what has happened to Japan ... or New Zealand ... This is the God who has given us strength to believe that everything occurs for a reason and it is not a cruel God who challenges man's faith through such mind-boggling disasters. Rather, this is a God that reminds us ever so often that ours are such mortal lives meant to be validated and affirmed only through a life that is full and filled.
The God that I know does not own a bank. The God that I know does not wear fancy clothes nor only found in rituals and ceremonies. The God that I know is in every man ... as He is everywhere ... as He is Everything.