Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Cross For Salvation

How do you measure the love of Christ?
How can we make holy week, holy?

Let me share my story to you.
Year 2006, I attended a conference of different leaders and public servants. (The politicians) I was with the barangay council as member of the youth council. 

I did not spend any penny just to have this conference in Camiguin Island – where the sweetest lansones are just anywhere and sold for as low as 10 pesos per kilo on their lansones festival. (You can actually bring home for free if you can display a good charisma to the constituents.)

The place is clean with natural hot spring and white sand beaches.
It is one of the best tourist spots that I’ve come to see.
My mind was refreshed with a beautiful nature.
The feeling was like, sitting on the seashore, watching the sea, the sky was blue and the wind was tapping my cheeks.

And I could also feel the sea water, slowly invading my feet where the sand was rolling up and down.
But these feelings have broken when I received the text messages from my classmates.
They informed me that the thesis defense was rescheduled for tomorrow.

My day was turned so dark and heavy. It's like I was carrying all problems in the world.
I was hopeless and totally burdened. I did not know what first move to do.
I went out from the conference hall to be alone so I could think of better ways.
And I came up with these considerations:
1. If I would give up this conference, they would be disappointed in me.
2. If I would go back home alone, how sure I would have to arrive there at the time of our defense.
3. If I would finish the conference and I have to try to convince our dean to reschedule the date of defense for me.
After few hours, I’ve marked the sand for my decision.
So I confronted the chairman and told about it.
Guess what decision did I make?
Luckily they all understood.
Yes, you have it in mind, I went home alone.
I did not finish the conference.

I only savored the first day of this conference. (Which was supposed to be a three-day conference.)
On my trip, I’ve realized that I wasn’t grateful to my classmates for their concerns and to
my teachers for pulling my thesis down to the list of defense.

My classmates also volunteered to defend first so I could be the last.
(They considered my distance.) Instead, I became resentful of my situation. I did not commend the people who hoped and waited for me at school.
So I said to myself, “when I meet you guys, I would hug and thank you.”

To make this story short, guess what?
This defense was successful. (With a rising intonation on the word successful.)
I should be thankful for these people, for saving me even if I was distant.
Without the help of these people, I wouldn't be of where and who I am today.
My friends, it's holy week.
The essence of this day is to commemorate the salvation of our sins through the crucified God on the cross.
Yes, we are aware about Jesus Christ who died on the cross to redeem all our sins.
I always cry everytime I remember His sufferings.
The Passion of Christ has been very emotional to us.
Watch this video:

(Admit it, you wipe your tears everytime you watch the video.)

Jesus has felt so much pain when they nailed His hands on the cross.
I could not imagine the pain.
The Passion of Christ is the period of the most intense suffering from the garden of Gethsemane to the crucifixion.

What was the source of the passion of Christ? It was his intense love for mankind. The great love of Jesus resulted in his apex and commitment to walk a very stiff and narrow path to redeem mankind.

For the sake of renewing humans to fellowship with God, he made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant by being made in human likeness. - Philippians 2:6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.His passionate love caused him to put forth the glory of heaven to take human ways and live an obedient life of self-sacrifice required by the holiness of God. 

Only such a selfless love could ever produce the pure and innocent blood sacrifice required to cover the sins. - John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
It’s a reflection for us to give thanks to the Lord for His love endures forever.
His deepest love is never compared to anyone on earth for His love is incommensurable.
His love is limitless but never vague.
It's a love with horizontal and vertical. Just like the cross for salvation.

And friends, let’s not worry for this.
Let’s just honor our God; give Him thanks for the salvation of mankind. 
Praise and glorify His name for He is the most high. Let’s repent for our shortcomings and do more good things on earth. Jesus would be more grateful if we can do all of these things.

So, how do you make holy week holy? please watch this video:

Six Ways to Make your Holy Week Really Holy

                                           by:  Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD 

Friends, let's give ourselves a favor.
Free our hearts from wickedness, sinfulness, anger, vengeance, and selfishness. Forgive people who have hurt you and ask forgiveness to those you are in conflict with.
Life is all about faith, hope and love.
Let's live with joy and compassion in the heart.

May you have a blessed and reflective holy week.
God bless you.

In Christ,
Robi Marapao
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Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Rich Faith

Many people asked me, hey Rob, what’s your secret of achieving your goals?
Why a person like you seems a happy go lucky? It’s like you don’t worry about
what you won’t have for tomorrow.
The way to lead you in a path of success is not merely of what you have.
But it’s giving things of what you have.
Let me share a story with you.

 I’ve had a friend, let’s call her Sofia.
She has everything she wants in life; luxurious car, big house, walkman (that was when ipod wasn’t invented yet) and she has a nanny who takes good care of her. She really lives like a princess.
She never forgets to share food to her neighbors.
Sofia even gave her used clothes and shoes to her casual acquaintances.

After high school, she went to university. She dreams to be a flight stewardess and she took up this course.
 On the first day of school, things drastically changed.
There’s no more nanny to call all the time, and no more luxurious car to drive in.
And worst of all, no more wealthy life. Wanna know why?

The company where her father has worked hit a big crisis that it caused them to live hand to mouth.
Since his father lost his job, they had a hard time making ends meet.
Sofia has to pinch pennies for her to survive.
That year seemed to be a nightmare for her. A big change, a new challenge, and a big burden for her, but she handled it as God’s training for her to breakthrough.

She sold out her jewelries and shared some money to her housemates.
Her money was just enough for the tuition fee. She’s not well off anymore.
But, there’s one rich that she had. It’s her faith to God.
She said, “Yeah, I’ve lost many things, but I won someone, that became my everything.
My faith has grown enough for me to fulfill my purpose in life.”

Sofia graduated in the university and tried to apply in an international airline but she was not shortlisted.
 But hey, there’s something big blessing after that.
She is now managing a travel agency; catering for overseas and local travel.
Yes, she’s the boss. Awesome right? She owns her time and she makes her workforce happy by giving enough wages.

My dear friends, what Sofia had was her faith to God. She gave her all.
She possessed things that God wanted her to be. She welcomed Jesus to lead her to success.
Her faith is richer than any things around.
Being less in materials doesn’t mean giving up nor failing from doing something.
Life is all about giving and receiving. If you give love, you’ll receive more love.

Try to inhale, and don't exhale. Do you think you can survive?
Have a few minutes doing it, and it may drag you to death.
How about closing your hands and making them fists; do you think you can hold something without opening your hands? Definitely we should open our hands first so we can catch or hold things.

Friends, freely we received, freely we give.
God gave all His love for us.

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.John 13:34

In Christ,
Robi Marapao 

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

God Wipes Tears

Many times, I've witnessed the kids screaming and even yelling out loud just to get what they want. 

And of course, parents would immediately hush them and penetrate a direct tonic just to soothe them. 

Parents don’t like to see their kids crying. No one likes to see a child screaming and pointing what they want.

Jesus is more than that. If parents do these things, God gives more of these things. I’ll tell you, Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7
Thus, the Lord is more vehement if He sees you crying. He wipes tears of His children. Christ has full of emotions. He smiles when he sees you happy, but He also cries when you’re in pain. 
Do you remember Lazarus? Jesus wept in his bestfriend’s death. Yes, He cried for the death of his dearest friend Lazarus.

If you think that no one cares for you nor completely engages in to your feelings, Jesus is more than willing to comfort and wipe your tears. 

He is always the One who can understand our suffering. Be reminded that God wants you to experience grateful things on earth.
Oh, it suddenly buffers on my mind now. Can you imagine driving a car or even watching a driver switching a wiper on his car to wipe the rain-water? 

Jesus volunteers Himself to wipe your tears even without switching it. 
That’s how He loves His children. It’s more than automatic for some automatic electronics may fail, but He never fails. He makes you a new person and gives new hope.
Jesus loves more than what you can imagine.

In Christ,
Robi Marapao

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

What is Love?

Most of us celebrate valentines' day, but I'm not sure for those who don't have one yet.
All I am sure is that everybody asks "who's your date?" hmmm, now I'm asking myself too.
Shhhhh, let's go on to my story. I know you get excited everytime you hear a love story.

Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, there lived a beautiful princess but she hasn't any prince yet. She's been waiting for almost seven years. Her father, the king has also been checking every young men passing by so he could bring them to her daughter, hoping to finally choose one. But the princess has no feelings for all men that king has brought to her.

The princess again waited for another year to come. One day, the princess and her father went out to bask and see the beautiful morning.
There were three young men approached the princess. The first man said, "good morning my dear beautiful princess, I'm delighted to see you here. With my privilege to meet you, I wonder if you can accept my love."

Then the second man hissed, "oh princess, what a lovely day, as lovely as you are. You have no idea how you really made may day. If you give me chance to offer my deepest adoration in you, I will do all my best just to make you happy."
The third man then humbly greeted the princess and the king. "good morning your highness, good morning princess. It's my honor to see you.

The king hurriedly asked the three young men, "what are you doing here?" " your majesty, we're really waiting to see the princess." "Are you telling me that you want to marry my daughter?" said the king. "Yes your majesty." said the three. The king whispered to his daughter and said, "so how's it my dear?"
The princess replied, "let me handle this father."
"Both of you are attractive, but I am only looking for one. Please introduce yourself to us."

The first man said, "I am prince Arthur, I live from the nearby kingdom and I've been searching one, for several months now. I can give a best life that you want for your daughter." (facing to the king)
The second man, also said, I am Charlie, I own a big business. In fact, I manage my own business too. I can also provide a very good future for your daughter."
After the second man has talked, a moment of silence had encouraged the third man to introduce himself.

"I am not as wealthy as they are, but I was able to save some money just enough for us to live a good life."
My name is Luke, I'm just one of your employees your highness." prince Arthur and Charlie derided Luke after knowing it he's just an ordinary worker.

The princess asked the three of them, "if ever I'm not a princess, are you still gonna marry me?"
Prince Charlie, answered, of course yes! You're beautiful." "Definitely, I'm gonna marry you my princess; you're my dream girl." said Charlie. Then Luke answered, "I am not only going to marry you, but I will give you a life you deserve; I will take good care of you."

If you are the princess, who are you going to choose? is it prince Arthur, Charlie, or Luke?
Why not have a guess, who was chosen by the princess?

To make it short, the princess has chosen Luke. (Oh you're not surprised huh? was Luke your bet too?)
And they lived happily ever after. (as a fairytle always does)

My dear friends, it says in the bible,  "Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

The princess chose Luke because, he bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things even if he's just an ordinary person, and despite of the fact that he's trialed by two rich men.
Luke shows himself with lots of patience. He's a kind person as well. 

Jesus teaches us to be polite, and kind, to speak kind words to other people and to love  the way we love Him. Let's not forget that He first loved us.  "We love because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19)
We should be thankful to our God for the greatest love that He has given to us.

Before you celebrate the valentines' day, honor and praise our God first, because love has started from Him. Jesus gave His whole heart to us even without asking it. His love is unconditional and everlasting. 

In Christ,
Robi Marapao

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Life is More Than Beautiful

Life is more than beautiful that people are often blinded.

How many times have you asked yourself with these questions:
What am I going to eat today?
When can I get a job?
Where's my soul mate?
How is it going to be in my work?
Why is it like that?

My dear friends, these are just a few of what people often ask.
But, have you frequently heard people asking, why is life beautiful or
How can I share the joy in me?
This is the reason why people also usually in a pattern of pessimism.
They expect that there's something worse ahead of them.
That something bad that's gonna happen.

Starting today, try to overhaul yourself and believe that something good is happening.
You might be asking, the "how" to overhaul.
I'm gonna give you some tips. Here's to do list:

When you wake up in the morning, smile and say, "something good is happening."
Acknowledge the Lord for another day.
Share the joy, by greeting or smiling the people around you.
Give a hand to those who really need it.
Accept yourself as a gift and that you are precious.

Are these easy to do once in a while?  Of course you would answer yes.
But, once is never enough. Doing these tips should be everyday.
If you want to feel an ultimate change, doing once isn't effective.
Do these steps like a habit. Let me share this story.

I have a friend of mine who used to be my close friend ages back.
Let's hide her name Barbara. She has felt devastated for very long years.
But she's wealthy. Her family has a business. However, she kept on telling miseries in life.
It's like she's blinded with the goodness in life. She has become so cynical.

One day, she approached me, "Robi, why is everyone going away everytime I speak? or if not, they just prescind?  I told her, "Barbara, thank goodness and you've finally observed it.
That's already a first step."  Barbara shook her head. I asked her, "look at, how much money do you have in your purse?" "I have more than three thousand. It's my allowance, why did you ask?"
Listen Barbara, you have enough money to feed yourself. Look at those people working.
(I've pointed the men in a construction site.)

Barbara, those people are working more than ten hours without any overtime pay guarantee. (I whispered to her left ear.) But look at them, you can see the joy in their eyes, that everytime they finish work, they get excited to go home because somebody are waiting for them, and something good is happening despite their worries; despite of being less in things.
I shouted and called one of the construction workers and said, "are you going home now?
Yes Robi, (with a smile on his face) I'm heading home and eat with my family.

My friend Barbara saw and witnessed the smile. She really felt jaded that time.
Not because of the smile that she saw, but because of being blinded of the beautiful things around her.
So I told her, "my friend, take off your shades so you can see the beautiful things around you."
See the birds flying in the sky? the trees swaying each other? the wind that touches your skin?
And the sun, shines on you? Barbara, Don't put yourself in a shadow while everybody shines."

Want to hear more story about Barbara? Okay, you might wanna ask, what has happened next to her.
She's become a bank manager who’s very active in church activities.
And to date, she got married with two kids. She lives in Malaysia now with a happy married life.

My dear friends, I want you to be more happy seeing things more than beautiful.
Life is full of goodness and we have to cherish it.
We should catch all the blessings. Just open your heart and accept Jesus as your source of everything.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart 
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, 
and he will make your paths straight."
Proverbs 3:5-6

With beautiful heart,
Robi Marapao

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Which Tree are You?

Once upon a time, there were three trees talking with each other. The first tree said, "I am the tallest among us and my branches are also long."
"Well, mine are not long, I'm not the tallest but I am the strongest here," said the second tree. 

The third tree said, "you guys are stupendous. If you combine, the result is perfect. You can withstand when a strong typhoon comes." The first and the second tree were surprised. "Look at me," said the third tree. "I'm not tall, my branches are not as strong as you are, but the birds stay with me and I bear fruits abundantly. And my master is very happy with me."

It took a silence after they heard it. "Yeah you're right," said the first tree. "But how can you be so sure? I mean, how are you gonna ward yourself when a strong typhoon comes?" asked the second tree.
"The way I handle myself is not only based on what I have physically. 
I bear fruits because I love people picking them.

I grow more leaves because I am delighted everytime the birds stay and play with me. So when a strong typhoon comes, I'm gonna do my best to be still, and I'm not gonna give up even if it will take me a thousand fall downs." answered the third tree.

My dear friends which tree are you? the first, the second or the third? Allow me first to personify each character.

The first tree is a rich person whose dreams remain to be dreams. He is afraid to commit mistakes and doesn't take a risk.

The second tree is a talented person but he plays safe, that's all. He has a potential but he doesn't finish things when he knows he's going to undergo a certain problem. He stops dreaming and surely won’t achieve goals.

The third tree is just an average one but dreams big and does things compassionately. He has a very joyful heart that makes him more inspired to do his best.

Are you the first tree? the second tree? or the third tree? Now, let me ask you another question, what makes the third tree joyful? Who inspires him?

Basically, we should be the third tree, with a joyful heart despite of the resources aren't there to mend things. We should never give up in times of difficult, even if it will be a very hard mountain to climb for the Lord doesn't give up on us.

Always remember that Jesus has become perseverant when He's carried the cross. He has finished of what he had started. He's never given up on us.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
Deuteronomy 31:6

Despite of not being perfect in life, we should be more grateful for it for every little thing we do brings us happiness. People are happy with you not because of what you have, but it’s because of who you are.

The hope should always be clear and certain, for without hope we can not start anything. God gives strength to people who hope that every single step is a blessing from Him.

Be like a third tree who never gives up despite of his difficulties, who dreams big, and lives with a good spirit. When weltschmerz strikes you, be willing to counter it through being grateful undeterred by the hard times.

With grateful heart,

Robi Marapao

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Tribute to My Loving Father

Ten years ago, my dad and I often times argued with each other with a common reason: I usually came home beyond 6:00p.m. from school. 
My father got worried everytime his kids came home late. It happened again until I finished my studies and freed me of my edge.
He’s been there in my failures and successes. Who would have thought that a father like him is so emotional. (cause it’s not seen in his appearance though) 
When he saw the medals of his kids, whoa, I could see his smile glaring to his ears; a more funny thing there is his ears would really clap then. He’s a proud father to his five sons.
My father became my chatmate in boxing. But this is not a chit-chat that we use over the net. It’s a casual talk that shares the same interest. I remember my dad can easily memorize the record of most famous boxers in the world. (My dad was really a boxing enthusiast) 
When you guys talk about boxing? bring it on a table and see what you’ve got. Name the boxers and he can name more often. You would surely spend more hours talking about boxing (esp. talking about Pacman)
I felt homesick the first time we spent our own way because I volunteered to join in a missionary work and was assigned in Negros Occidental after graduation. At that time, I even reminisced how strict he’s to me. 
I could imagine how he cried when I leaved the house. He hugged me and said,” please take care of yourself and eat well.” He’s part everything of me.
My father is so skilled. He’s able to repair trucks and even operate heavy equipment without any formal training at school. Thinking about vulcanizing and going outside to help the firemen stop the fire? Yes, these are just few of my father’s skills.
He had a chance to work in abroad and signed a contract. But you know what? he revoked this agreement when he’s about to go other country because he suddenly missed us. He chose his family rather than earning dollars outside.
He’s a respected guy as a neighborhood in our province and a role model to his sons. I thanked him for everything. 
I know that there are a lot of things to say thank you for. But now I am thinking, should I say thank you papa for leaving us without saying goodbye? NO!
It’s my woebegone in my entire life that my best father has already left me. It totally broke my heart with a deepest damage in me. 
To describe, it’s like I am a candle slowly melting and devitalizing its light. I still wonder why too soon papa? When I looked at his recent pictures, I wept silently. Yes, I couldn’t shout. 
I thought there’s an end when I shed all my tears. But I was wrong. Tears are also refillable and bottomless. I can remember my one and only answer in an autograph in highschool, it’s about my greatest fear in life.
I don’t know if my father can read this note; but one thing that I surely know is that, God welcomes papa in His kingdom. 
When I made this note, tears dropped into my keyboard with blurry sight. If there is one thing that I would like to ask now, I will beg God that He should have given my papa to say goodbye to all of us.
But I understood and gave a nod to God that life isn’t like a fairytale. I know that papa is safe in the hands of God.
I know that God can’t take my first request. But maybe the Lord will say yes for my second request that, in my family’s second life in heaven, I hope that we can still be together again, Amen.We love you Papa! We will miss you. See you in God’s time.

In Christ,
Robi Marapao
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