By Father Danny Ferrandiz
For the Umatuna Si Yu’os
Perhaps, some of you have heard the amazing story of the Vietnamese Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan. Shortly after South Vietnam fell into the hands of the communist party of North Vietnam, Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan was arrested and imprisoned. For 14 years, the communist tried to break his faith. He was finally released, sent to Rome and died in exile in 2002 at the age of 74.
Prior to his death in the Jubilee Year 2000, Pope John Paul II asked Cardinal Van Thuan to preach to the annual retreat of the cardinals working at the Vatican. In his reflections, he shared the sufferings he endured at the hands of the communist. For many years, he would celebrate the Mass in the solitary confinement with few drops of wine and a drop of water in his palm. But that sustained him and his faith in God.
The story of Cardinal Van Thuan reminds us that friendship with God is demanding. It requires us to carry our crosses daily. St. Paul understands this and encourages us to learn to die to oneself and to constantly renew our friendship with God. How? Through spiritual examination by undergoing an MRI.
Jesus has reminded his disciples to always examine why they are serving others. Are they serving themselves in some way, trying to gain something for their service, or are they truly serving them because they serve the Lord?
In hospitals, doctors use the MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to detect accurately and diagnose issues in the bodily organs. In our spiritual life, we also need an MRI to look into three areas of our life: namely, our MATERIAL attachments, our RELATIONSHIPS, and the INVENTORY of our values in life.
M- MATERIAL ATTACHMENTS: Are there any material goods or pleasures that have grown out of proportion in your life? Do money and material things dictate your way of life?
R- RELATIONSHIPS: Are there any unhealthy relationships in your life? Relationships that cause SIN, disunity, problems and restlessness in your life; that burn bridges rather than builds; that breaks a family apart rather than unite. If so, we need to ask God to give you the grace to cut them off.
I- INVENTORY OF VALUES IN YOUR LIFE: What do you value most? What do you idolize in life? What keeps you busy? What are the time wasters in your life? In our modern generations, hobbies and entertainment have become, in too many cases, idols, mini-gods. They come in different forms like gambling, drinking, drug and sex addictions etc.
Rest, relaxation, and recreation are good values. We need them to find the rhythm of our life. But they are meant to help us recover energy for our real mission in life, our real duties and God-given responsibilities. What are your INNER SPIRITUAL VALUES that define your relationships with God? Or have you let your idols take over too much space in your mind and heart?
The stories of people in the Bible are not told for the sake of telling. They are told to remind us of the mistakes of our people in the past so we can avoid committing them in the present. Jesus has reminded his disciples to always examine why they are serving others. Are they serving themselves in some way, trying to gain something for their service, or are they truly serving them because they serve the Lord?
Following Christ is not easy, but it’s worth it – no matter how bad things get, if we stay close to Christ, He stays close to us and gives meaning and fruitfulness to our life. Are you feeling sick spiritually lately? Perhaps you need an MRI. Have yourself checked. You might be surprised with the results.