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Patience in adversity

Rev. Fr. Russell Bantiles


 I HAVE just finished the talk during the recollection I was facilitating with a small group of employees at the side chapel of the Sta. Ana Shrine Parish last Wednesday when I received a call from a seminarian who happened to pass by our house in Ma-a, telling me that our house was blazing in fire.

Immediately, I took the car and headed home. When I reached the place I could only see black smoke. (Later that day, a friend of mine jokingly texted me, “We are waiting for a smoke from the Sistine Chapel not that smoke from your house”). The fire had been extinguished. But the house was completely burned. We may not have salvaged anything, but thank God, my mother, my auntie and my niece were saved.

            It was March 13, 2013, the 78th birthday of my father who passed away two years ago. We were about to visit his grave that day and have dinner with the whole family at the house. But that evening, we were so busy trying to compose ourselves and attend to the hospitalization of my mother who broke her left wrist. She slipped on the floor during the emergency. The doctor’s initial suggestion was an operation. In the end, the doctor opted for cementing treatment.

            Very late that night, as I was going to sleep (at around 2 am), I received a call from Msgr. Paul Cuison. “Habemus Papam!” he excitedly informed me. We had to wait for an hour with our eyes fixed on the TV screen before we saw the newly-elected Pope emerging onto the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica. Pope Francis of Argentina brought immense joy to my day. I forgot for a while my family’s predicament.

            In prayer, I began to grope for the meaning of all these. At the writing of this article, I seem to understand. Coincidence, says Albert Einstein, is God’s way of staying anonymous. Two striking data converge: my late biological father’s birthday and the election of my spiritual father, Pope Francis. God is telling me that despite the tragedy, He is still a Father to me. God will never let us down. We may have lost all our belongings but never the truth that we are God’s children.

            For this reason, we cling to Him more firmly and most especially in times of adversity. We must be stripped of worldly things for us to trust only in Him, in His loving, fatherly providence. The human heart can easily get distracted. Oftentimes, too much attachment to earthly goods could easily swerve our hearts from the path that God wants us to tread. Adversities can be God’s wake up call. But God is so faithful that He does not try us beyond our capacity (Cfr. 1 Cor 10: 13).

            Job said, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1: 21). We must thank the Lord for whatever happens in our life. We must always remember that God is a loving Father. If He allows trials, they are intended for our purification. “God can write straight with crooked lines” so they say. We must learn to be patient in times of adversity as we are also grateful in times of prosperity.

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