This year I celebrated Pentecost in the prison!
No, I was NOT arrested (yet!) but we went
there to celebrate an early Vigil with the
inmates. It was a very moving celebration.
Very fitting because the whole purpose of
the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives
is to free us from the shackles of our wrongdoing
and burst open the self-made penitentiary
that we have created.
As I looked around me and saw the suffering
of these men, I realized how hard life can
be … accidents, drug addictions, anger, dysfunctional
families, violence. When the inmates started
sharing, I had shivers in my body! Life is
beautiful yes… but it can be hard also.
How can we tackle the trials that come in
our way? Getting angry or impatient will
not solve our problems. Cursing and drinking
only complicates more our life. Worrying
leads to added frustration. Saint Paul perhaps
hits the nail on its head when he recommends
wisely, to be ‘patient in tribulation’.
The purposes of God often develop slowly.
He has his own timetable that is so different
from ours. We want everything done now. Many
times He prefers to wait. He cannot be hurried!
Some of the greatest missionaries of history
devotedly spread the seed of God’s Word and
yet had to wait long periods before seeing
the fruit of their efforts. Blessed Diego
never saw the results of his works in the
A well-known preacher, noted for his poise
and quiet manners, was seen once pacing tensely
in his room, “What’s the trouble, Father?”
someone asked him. And the answer was quick
in coming, “The trouble is that I’m in a
hurry, but God isn’t!”
But this taking-it-easy by God is always
for our own good. It took God five days to
create the heavens, earth, sun, moon and
every living thing; one whole day to fashion
man in his image before the fall of man.
Ever since the fall, God has been working
on restoring us to him. What patience God
has toward us!
There is an old traditional Hebrew story
that tells us that one evening Abraham was
sitting outside his tent when he saw a weary
old man, coming towards him. Abraham immediately
rushed out, greeted him, and invited him
into his tent. There he washed the old man’s
feet and gave him food and drink.
When the old man started eating without saying
any blessing, Abraham asked him whether he
worships God. The old traveler replied, “I
worship fire only and reverence no other
god.” When he heard this, Abraham was so
incensed that he grabbed the old man by the
shoulders, and threw him out his tent into
the cold night air.
Soon afterwards, God came looking for the
stranger. Abraham replied, “I forced him
out because he did not worship you.”
God amazed, simply said, “I have put up with
him these eighty years although he dishonors
me. Could you not endure him one night!?”
Yes, “patience is the companion of wisdom,”
said Saint Augustine. A couple of weeks ago,
early in the morning, I met a wise girl.
Coming from the airport at 2am (I had just
returned to Guam) I took down to my room
a copy of the Pacific Voice. On the front
page there was this amazing story and this
stunning photo of Tash, a young Chamorro
girl who passed away just one year ago at
the age of fifteen.
“My name is Natasha L. G. Perez. I am twelve
years old and I have cancer. This is my story”
she writes in an essay. “It all started when
my left knee began to ache. My Mom and I
thought it was part of the usual growing
pains…” It was more serious. Three years
followed, three years of pain, joys, traveling
to hospitals in Michigan and New York, growth,
faith, hope, God…
It was during this time that she wrote an
essay for her theology class at the Academy
on the Abraham’s test to sacrifice his son.
Her conclusion is so perceptive. “But after
reflecting about the story more openly, I
realized that the moral of the story is:
We are not equal to God, God is powerful
and the one in charge. We should not question
why He does certain things or permits things
to happen especially if we don’t know his
planned outcome….” Suffering accompanied
with patience made Natasha wise.
Ralph Emerson is right. “Patience and fortitude
conquers all things.”
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
hereby granted for any non-commercial
provided that the content is unaltered
its original state, if this copyright