“My health may fail, my body may age, but my love, faith and hope in God will remain frim and strong.”
WHY do I keep believing in Jesus Christ and his teachings? This is the question that would sometimes arise in my mind.
Is it because of the way I was raised and educated? Is it because of the influence of my family and friends? Why have I invested my time and energy in the long years I’ve lived spreading Jesus Christ’s words and practicing them to the best of my ability?
My answer is simple: It’s because of the Spirit of Jesus Christ that lives in me, urging me to live my life according to his ways—loving, forgiving, and serving as he did.
Of course, this sense has developed for years since my childhood. But I cannot say that it’s a mere result of the influence of people and my studies. It now mainly comes from the intimate relationship I have with Jesus in prayer and the Sacraments of the Church such as the Eucharist and Confession.
Despite living in a secular world that questions our Christian faith and existence of God, I hold on to my faith and trust that my life in Jesus is what gives me meaning, fulfillment and hope. I don’t have complete clarity on what awaits me in the afterlife. I don’t have any scientific proof of the existence of heaven and hell. All I have is an existential longing to be with God beyond this earthly life and belief in the promise of eternal life of Jesus Christ, His Son.
In the Gospel this Sunday (John 6:41-51), Jesus says, “I am the bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” I trust in Jesus’ words because I’ve witnessed it in the lives of many people who believe in him—how their lives and their relationships have changed for the better. I’ve seen it in the heroic and selfless acts of others who have dedicated years of serving the poor, the oppressed, the alienated, and the lonely. Their belief in Jesus and relationships with him have, indeed, become life for the world.
The Church may have committed mistakes and created scandals, but these do not prevent me from continuing my relationship with Jesus Christ and continuing his mission. My faith in him is bigger than any institution and hierarchy. His Spirit will always live in me!
I’m a sinner like everyone. I too struggle and go through many trials. But the flame of my faith in Jesus never gets extinguished.
My health may fail, my body may age, but my love, faith, and hope in God will remain firm and strong.
So I don’t grieve or quench the Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ that resides in me. I try to take away any bitterness, fury, anger, disappointment, and malice in my heart and mind. Rather, I strive to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to others as Christ has done to me.
I hope it’s the same for you. I hope that you too remain strong in your faith in Jesus no matter how difficult life can be and how the secular world can influence our thoughts to doubt God’s existence and love. Amen.
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From a Filipino immigrant family, Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas was ordained to the priesthood from St. John’s Seminary in 1991. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Augustine, Culver City (1991-1993); St. Martha, Valinda (1993-1999); and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park (1991-2001). In 2001, he served as Administrator Pro Tem of St. John Neumann in Santa Maria, CA, until his appointment as pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Los Angeles, in 2002, which lasted 12 years. His term as Associate Director of Pastoral Field Education at St. John’s Seminary began in July 2014.