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A Sheer Sunrise is God’s Magnanimity

by Erwin Joey Cabilan

One of the memorable things that I experienced when I was in Belgium was
my Tongerlo Experience. What made it memorable was not only because of the
historical significance of the place (Tongerlo, which is part of the Diocese of
Antwerp, is the place where the 750 year-old Norbertine monastery can be found)
but above all, my experience of being ONE with God.

I never had any plans to go there. What made me decide to be in that place
was my hunger and thirst for God through a Spiritual Retreat. Thanks to Herbert
Wasserbauer, my Austrian best friend, who invited me to join him. It was his
intention to go there. His invitation was the way of God so that I can find a way to
be with my God.

It was a personal spiritual exercise. Though there were moments that

Herbert and I would talk and share our personal reflections but we also respected
each other’s preference when it comes to meditation and contemplation. Herbert
had with him Karl Barth’s book on discipleship while I never had a single book to
read. Why? My very purpose was to read my personal love story with God. And
so, I read it.

In reading my life story, one of the approaches that I employed was recalling
all my past experiences in front of the Blessed Sacrament. On that very moment, I
recalled what my mother shared to me: the very moment that she gave to me. As
far as I can remember, my mother said that when she delivered me, it was October
20, 1978, Friday and it was early morning……………….sunrise. From that story, I
recollected those “sunrising experiences” in my life until I asked myself before the
Lord, “What have I done to you? Am I like a sun that rises to every person’s life?”
Because I could not count those “sunrising experiences”, I couldn’t stop myself from
crying. Tears of joy flowed from my eyes.

In the silence of my heart, when I tried to ask the Lord the said question, I
heard God talking to me in silence amidst silence. He said, “Erwin, instead of asking
to me that question, you better ask, ‘Lord, what have YOU done to me?’ ” Pondering
that simple but profound thought, the more that I cried before the Lord because I
couldn’t count those “sunrising moments” that He allowed to happen in my life and
in the lives of those significant others of mine. Through that encounter, I
rediscovered that aside from humility, gratitude is a context where authentic prayer
can start. If I could count those moments, they number as the stars in the sky. In
other words, God’s deeds, though sometimes we are seemingly unaware of them,
when found, are more than enough. The adjective that best suits this reality is
God’s works are both revealed and are revealing. They are revealed through
creation and re-creation; either through chronos or through kairos. They allow us to
discover and to rediscover the things that gradually point to His existence. In pains
and in joys, in miseries and in victories, though hidden, God is revealed. On the
other hand, they are also revealing. In this process, the subject (God) is active. The
only way “to see Him” is through an open mind and a loving heart. The “via activa”
is a tool to allow the words of St. Thomas “My Lord and my God” to sink into the
depths of our being. If the person is “high” with God the reason is not because
he/she possesses God and the things that belong to God rather, he/she is possessed by
God and all the things that are God’s.

Lord, what have you done to me? The more I ask God this question, the
more I can tell Him that the whole world cannot contain the loving kindness that He
has for me. Until I came to the conclusion of all God’s graciousness: The Eucharist.
He has not only given me the whole of creation to benefit from His loving kindness;
He has given me His very Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus never only touched my life.
More than this, His life is given to you and to me. By living in me, Jesus wants me to
know that through Him, with Him and in Him, the sun continues to rise and to
shine. His presence is not a reward. After all, I am not worthy. In my
unworthiness, Christ’s presence is a free gift.

What can I ask from You, O Lord? Only one thing, O Lord,
to rise gently and shine so bright.

3 April 2006
Feast of Blessed Pedro Calungsod
A Visayan Catechist and a Proto-martyr