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Fr. Francis Ongkingco


Fr. Francis Ongkingco“MOMMY, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…,” Craig cried out.
“Eeeasy, young man! I haven’t even said something and you’re already saying ‘sorry’,” his mom removed her kitchen apron and dried her hands with it.
“I’m sorry, coz I was playing Pokémon again,” Craig confessed.
“So what’s wrong with playing Pokémon, dear?” She suspiciously wrinkled her right eyebrow.
“‘Coz you said I could only play after my homework!” Craig started sobbing.
“And did you finish it like you said you would?” She feigned some anger in her voice.
“No! That’s why I’m saying sorry so you won’t get mad.”
“Sit here, Craig dear,” she pulled him a chair.
“Are you going to punish me, mommy?” Craig clambered up.
“Nope, I’m going to explain something better,” she said.
“You see, there’s a little-big difference between being sorry and being sorrowful.”
“Sorrowful?” Craig wiped his nose on his right sleeve.
“Yes. It’s one thing to say sorry and another to be sorrowful.” She said softly and finishing the job for Craig with a napkin to clean his running nose.
“What is the difference mommy?” This time he wiped his nose on his left sleeve.
“Young man, if you don’t stop snotting around with your nose, I can never always do snotting for you,” she glared at him.
“Sorry, mommy,” Craig shrugged his little shoulders.
“You see, Craig. If you only say sorry but are not going to change something bad you have done, then you don’t mean to change. A sorrowful person, however, is someone who may not even say sorry but will do his best to change the wrong he did.”
“Like how?”
“You say you’re sorry for doing something you’re not yet supposed to do, right?”
“So smart boy, what will you do about it now?”
“I will go back to my room and not play Pokémon until finish studying!”
“That is being sorrowful, and it makes Jesus and mommy very happy!” She gave him a kiss on the forehead.

* * *

This scene reminded me about St. Josemaría’s advice on the importance of always being children before our Father God. He says:

“(…) How often we have misbehaved and then cleared the frowns from our parents’ brows, telling them: I won’t do it anymore!—That same day, perhaps, we fall again… – And our father, with feigned harshness in his voice and serious face, reprimands us, while in his heart he is moved, realizing our weakness and thinking: poor child, how hard he tries to behave well! We’ve got to be filled, to be imbued with the idea that our Father, and very much our Father, is God who is both near us and in heaven. (The Way, no. 267)”

He taught that this filial stance was essential in one’s spiritual life. It helps us not to get paralyzed by our falls. Undoubtedly, we all feel bad and guilty after doing something wrong, but instead of becoming pessimistic in our daily battles Jesus wants to us encounter Him even in the crossroads of our greatest failures, weaknesses, and miseries. St. Josemaría stresses this, saying:

“We’ve got to be convinced that God is always near us. We live as though He were far away, in the heavens high above, and we forget that He is also continually by our side. He is there like a loving Father. He loves each one of us more than all the mothers in the world can love their children—helping us, inspiring us, blessing… and forgiving. (Op. cit.)

This is also what Pope Francis, in his Bull Misericordiæ vultus, wanted to emphasize: that the most important part of every Christian’s conversion—more than being aware of or shocked with the wrong done—is our encounter with a Person whom we have wronged, and our resolve to return and amend for what we have done because of love.

Pope Francis writes: “Jesus, seeing the crowds of people who followed Him, realized that they were tired and exhausted, lost and without a guide, and He felt deep compassion for them. (…) What moved Jesus in all of these situations was nothing other than mercy, with which he read the hearts of those He encountered and responded to their deepest need. () In these parables, God is always presented as full of joy, especially when He pardons. In them we find the core of the Gospel and of our faith, because mercy is presented as a force that overcomes everything, filling the heart with love and bringing consolation through pardon. (nos. 7 & 8)”

* * *

“Craig? Where are you, honey? I baked some goodies for you,” his mother entered his room.
She was a little surprised when Craig silently appeared behind her.
“Where have you been, young man? Would you care for your favorite cheese buns?”
Craig was at first speechless and then suddenly broke down.
“What’s the matter young man, did you hurt yourself?”
[SOB, SOB, SOB] “No, mommy, I was hiding in my closet playing Pokémon again!”
“Didn’t we talk about that already, dear?”
Craig stopped sobbing and took a deep breath.
“I’m sorryful, I’m sorryful, I’m sorryful, mommy!!!”

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