Hatiku Gembira Tuhan, Engkau Datang Padaku. Sepenggal bait lagu dari Puji Syukur yang sungguh sederhana namun indah. Entah mengapa malam itu keinginan untuk menyanyikan lagu itu begitu menggebu-gebu. Ironisnya saya justru menangis ketika menyanyikan lagu itu, saya seperti menipu diri saya sendiri. Hatiku tidak gembira dan saya juga tidak merasakan Tuhan datang pada saya. Itulah yang membuat saya menangis.
Sudah banyak kesaksian iman yang saya baca dan dengar, biasanya diawali dengan kalimat-kalimat bombastis, “Saya sudah menemukan Tuhan.” Atau “Saya merasakan damai dan bahagia disini.” Atau ada yang lebih dashyat “Semalam saya bertemu Yesus” Aneh…saya merasa malu, apakah mereka yang terlalu suci atau saya yang terlalu berdosa. Mengapa sampai sekarang saya tidak pernah merasakan kasih Tuhan?
Boleh dikatakan, saya bukanlah orang yang kuat iman. Saya hanya orang biasa dan menjalani rutinitas saya sebagai Katolik seperti layaknya orang biasa. Ke Gereja setiap minggu, yah..kadang-kadang saya berdoa, kadang saya juga baca kitab suci. Menurut saya, itu sudah cukup, saya sudah melaksanakan kewajiban saya. Now it’s God’s turn. Tapi saya tetap tidak pernah tau apa itu menemukan Tuhan..apakah Ia begitu sulitnya dicari? Apakah Tuhan yang begitu maha harus bersembunyi begitu jauhnya sampai saya sulit untuk merasakan kasihnya?
Keadaan saya kemudian ditambah lagi dengan kepergian ayah saya, keluarga saya pun juga diterjang kesulitan keuangan yang begitu dashyatnya, sampai-sampai ibu saya menangis dalam tidurnya. Lengkap sudah ketidakhadiran kasih Tuhan dalam hidup saya.
Oh, sebelumnya saya ingatkan bahwa anda tidak akan menemukan “akhirnya Tuhan mengabulkan doa saya, dan saya sekarang menjadi pengusaha sukses” Tidak..tidak..saya tidak sedang membicarakan teologi kemakmuran disini.
Kembali lagi ke masalah saya, saya pun mulai berpikir..apa yang kulakukan selama ini? Apakah itu berguna? Apakah saya begitu berdosa sehingga Tuhan harus menghukum saya seberat ini? Mengapa orang lain memikul salib dari emas dan saya dari batu? In short, why bad things always happen to me?
Saya pun memulai lagi pertualangan saya mencari Tuhan. Dari baca-baca artikel sampai menonton tayangan di TV, intinya tetap sama, mereka menemukan Tuhan dan merasa bahagia. Lalu bagaimana dengan saya? Apakah saya selamanya tidak akan merasa bahagia? Bagaimana mungkin saya bisa merasa bahagia jika saya tidak bisa menemukan Tuhan?
Sudahlah..saya sudah capek..saya sudahi saja pertualangan ini. Terlalu sulit buat saya. Saya merasa percuma. Saya berpikir jika semua doa dan permohonan sudah tidak didengar lagi, mungkin sudah saatnya saya mencari jalan lain.
Dan jalan lain itu adalah AGNOSTISME. Saya merasa nyaman disana. Hidup nyaman dan tenang tanpa beban. Something bad happens? Well, you deserve it, with or without God, bad things still happen, so why bother? Saya pun membuat permusuhan dengan Tuhan, “God, I’m outta here” dan saya membayangkan Tuhan berkata, “fine”. Saya pun membalas dengan tidak kalah kerasnya, “FINE!!” Saya pun membanting pintu dan membantingnya dan tidak lupa saya kunci sehingga tidak seorangpun bisa masuk.
Saya tetap hidup dalam rutinitas saya, kerja, pulang, makan, tidur. Sama seperti dulu penuh kesulitan dan tetap tidak pernah merasakan kasih Tuhan. Tapi saya belajar dari pengalaman, just let it be. Ya benar, let it be, If God wont help you, who will?
Suatu malam, ketika istri dan anak saya sudah tertidur lelap, dan saya sedang tidak ada kerjaan, iseng-iseng saya coba membaca lagi kitab suci yang sudah lama tidak saya sentuh. Ketika sedang bingung mau membaca kitab apa, saya coba-coba random pick. Dan ternyata yang terbuka adalah Yakobus 1:12 (saya tidak menuliskan ayatnya, saya harap pembaca dapat membuka sendiri dan membaca apa yang tertulis disitu). Namun rasa skeptis dan sarkastis saya masih begitu besar, saya pun berkata dalam hati, “Yeah right!. What a coincidence” Tapi ada rasa tertarik untuk melanjutkan sampai selesai, sampai akhirnya saya membaca Yakobus 5. Saya seperti mendapat wake up call. Ah..ternyata saya memang hanya manusia biasa. Saya mencintai Tuhan jika…saya mengasihi Tuhan jika…Apakah ini yang orang-orang maksud dengan menemukan Tuhan, well..saya tidak berani berspekulasi dan apapun itu saya seperti tersadar bahwa hanya ada satu cara untuk menemukan Tuhan.
Saya pun seperti orang yang terburu-buru turun dari ranjang, saking semangatnya saya sampai terjatuh dari ranjang. Tapi saya tidak perduli, saya kembali berdiri dan berlari. Terjatuh, tersandung dan bahkan jatuh dari tangga, tapi saya tidak perduli..saya hanya punya satu tujuan..pintu itu..pintu yang sudah lama saya kunci. Walaupun penuh perjuangan, akhirnya saya bisa sampai pada pintu tersebut. Saya memutar kunci itu pelan-pelan. Dan ternyata Tuhan masih ada disana, dengan setia dia berdiri menunggu disana dan masih tersenyum. Sedangkan saya hanya bisa berdiri terpaku dan menitikkan air mata.
Selama ini saya seperti hidup di dalam kolam Lumpur. Mencoba keluar dari sana dengan berbagai cara sampai akhirnya saya merasa capek dan menyerah. Tapi Tuhan ada di samping sana menjulurkan Tangannya untuk membantu. Tapi saya yang terlalu picik, terlalu lemah untuk menerima uluran tanganNya. Perasaan malu, takut dan kecewa membuat saya menarik tangan saya kembali. Tuhan kembali mencoba, kali ini sambil berlutut dan tetap menjulurkan tanganNya. Tapi saya tetap belum sanggup menerimaNya. Saya berpikir..sudahlah..Tuhan, tidak ada gunanya..saya tidak berarti buatMu. Saya pun membalikkan badan dan menjauh. Saya pikir Tuhan pasti akan capek dan berhenti berusaha..Well..at least He tried..Twice. Ternyata tidak, justru Dia lompat masuk ke dalam kolam dan memeluk saya dengan erat dari belakang, seperti baru bertemu dengan seorang sahabat yang telah lama berpisah.
Akhirnya saya bisa seperti orang-orang dalam kesaksian itu. Tapi bukan karena saya menemukan Tuhan, tapi Tuhanlah yang menemukan saya.
Sekarang..saya masih hidup dalam kolam lumpur..begitu banyak kesulitan yang saya hadapi, begitu banyak masalah yang belum terselesaikan. Tapi setidaknya sekarang saya tidak sendiri di kolam itu.
Terus terang, sampai saat saya menulis tulisan ini, tidak ada satupun permohonan saya yang pernah dikabulkan olehNya. Tapi yang tidak pernah saya mohonkan justru terus diberi. Saya masih diberi nyawa untuk melihat senyum anak saya. Saya masih diberi tangan untuk memeluk istri saya. Dan yang pasti saya masih diberi suara untuk memuliakan namaNya yang Kudus.
Saya akan berbohong jika mengatakan saya sudah bahagia, belum..terkadang saya masih mengeluh.saya masih ngambek sama Tuhan..tapi saya tidak lagi lari.
Dulu hidup saya penuh kesulitan..kini hidup saya penuh tantangan.
Dulu hidup saya serba kekurangan..kini hidup saya serba berkecukupan.
Hatiku Gembira Tuhan, Engkau Datang Padaku.
Ah…saya masih saja menangis jika menyanyikan lagu ini..tapi kini yang mengalir adalah air mata kebahagiaan karena Ia telah menemukan aku.
My wife, my son, and all ekaristi.org members that cannot be name one by one.
"Teacher of Love" - A Journey of Hope and Prayer
Brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus,
Love, love, and love. Love is all around us. Love takes many different forms. You and I are in love every single day. In this writing, I personally invite you to join me in a journey ? a journey that starts with love and will soon end with the fulfillment of salvation in the court of heaven.
When we?re asked, who your teacher of love is, most of us will say, ?It?s Jesus or it?s God.? Well, to be honest, it is very true. But, my next question would be, ?Who is Jesus to you personally?? Then perhaps you would provide me with a great deal of descriptions of Jesus. For me personally, teacher of love is someone who reminds me ? someone who teaches me on how to love like Jesus (life-giving love) ? and perhaps someone who calls me to a deeper relationship with God, the true source of love and life. That is my definition for teacher of love and I?d say that it is a great blessing when you can find your own teachers of love in your life. In order for us to look for something, there must be a need. My need may be quite different from yours, but it is important that you reflect upon your lives and hopefully you may discover your need for a deeper relationship with our God. When you have a reason to love, you are ready to start this beautiful journey.
I am twenty-three, graduated from a quite respectable university, and currently working for a great company, but keep in mind that those accomplishments do not relieve me from headaches. As a matter of fact, my life has been troubled these couple months. It seems that I come to an intersection where there are hundred roads in front of me and I?m sure you have been in this kind of a situation when you?re in my age. My future seems to be uncertain and it seems that I can?t see a light on the other side of the tunnel. Only two things I?m sure of. First, God exists and second, my father and mother love me to death.
I bombarded God with all kinds of questions, ?God, what is this? Why does my life change all of a sudden? Why do there are so many decisions I need to make at the same time? What is Your plan for me? What do You want from my life? Where is Your support for me? What are your answers to my lamentations? Where is Your comfort and guiding hands?? These questions lay within my mind every day and I prayed and prayed, especially before Mass with a humble hope that God would heal me with His own body, blood, soul, and divinity.
On Thursday, October 7, I received a phone call from a good friend of mine. Her mother was hospitalized due to a serious illness. I was so surprised and at the same time compassion flows down from my heart. She was sad and so did I, but I realized that I had to be strong for her. Driven by mercy and compassion, I have nothing else but to say, ?Don?t you worry, I will pray for your mum. I will go to daily Mass for the healing of your mother.? I?d say this is quite common response for us when our good friend tells us about his or her ill mother, but one thing I realize today that God put that words of compassion on my lips as those words became deeds. God?s words are not merely words but they?re actions. In the beginning God said, ?Let there be light, and there was light.? When a priest hold up the bread then the wine and said, ?This is my body ? this is my blood,? there you would see the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus. The priest may be the one who says these words, but my question is, ?Whose words are they?? It is the very words of Jesus Christ and the priest works ?in persona Christi? (in the person of Christ).
Friday, October 8, hope starts to fill the emptiness of my heart ? hope for healing. As I drove my car down to Newport Beach where my office is located, I listened to EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) on the radio. It was a talk show between a priest and callers asking questions about faith, prayers, and life in common. There was a lady talked about her sick friend and asked the priest about which saints she should pray with for the healing of his friend. The father named several saints but the one caught up in my mind is St. Raphael or the Archangel Raphael for the name Raphael means ?God has healed?.
On my way back from work, again I listened to the same channel. This time is about a bishop answering questions regarding what the pope believes of abortion. The bishop talked heavily on the contraceptive mentality and he incorporated the Blessed Virgin Mary into the discussion. The bishop said, ?Pope John Paul II entrusted the Church in the intercession of the Blessed Virgin.? Then the only thing on my mind was, ?If the Pope himself entrusted the whole Catholic and apostolic church into the intercession of Mary, then why are there many Catholics who have doubts in entrusting their prayers and families into the love and care of the Mother of God?? It just doesn?t make sense. I knew from that moment on that I was called to have a special and deeper relationship with Mary. It is true that the Blessed Virgin Mary can never be omitted or neglected from the plan of salvation by Jesus Christ.
Saturday, October 9, I went to a friend?s place where seven of them organized a potluck which was followed by a rosary prayer. To my surprise, my friend asked me to lead the rosary and so I did. Whenever I pray the rosary, I always imagine that as I move my finger from one bead to another, I am on a journey ? a journey of the cross ? a journey of dying and rising with Christ and the most beautiful reality I can imagined is that when looking at the beads of the rosary which are joined one after another forming a circle. I call this circle, the circle of love. It reminds me of Mary embracing us as she embraced the body of Jesus when taken down from that cross of mercy. It also reminds me of Mary which was right there since day one accepting God?s grace with a humble but certain answer, ?Be it unto me according to Your Word,? following her son, Jesus, as the most loyal disciple, dying and rising with Jesus, until she was taken up body and soul into heaven and became the Queen of Heaven.
That evening, I specially make an intention for the healing of my friend?s mother and I also prayed so that Archangel Raphael would come down from heaven to bring God?s healing. It was the best rosary prayer I had ever done in my life. It was so intense yet so beautiful. I could feel the presence of the Blessed Virgin in the room, praying with all of us.
Sunday, October 10, early in the morning I got up from my slumber and started to do a little research on the Internet. I wanted to know more about angels, especially Archangel Raphael. Well, I found several good articles and information about St. Raphael, but only one article that caught my attention because while the other articles have only information regarding who Raphael is, this particular article contains a meditation prayer with St. Raphael for healing, both for our healing and for others. So I made my time to concentrate my mind to enter the meditation prayer. I tried so hard to put aside my ego, so that I believe 100% sure that the healing taking place didn?t come from me but from God alone. I realized that I was only an instrument of healing and not the true source of healing itself. I pulled out a picture of my friend?s mum to better visualize her during the prayer. Then I moved my right hand toward the picture as I prayed for the healing energy from God to be brought down by Archangel Raphael and down again through my hand. I visualized that the angel was behind me, channeling that energy down to my body and finally to the recipient.
Right after that moment, I went to EWTN website and watch the streaming daily mass. The homily by Fr. Angelus Shaughnessy O.F.M Cap. enlightened me. He said that if there is the best time to pray, then it would be right after the Eucharist. It?s right after we receive the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus, because at that moment, Jesus is closer to us than we to ourselves. I was supposed to attend the Indonesian Mass late in the afternoon, but driven by the compassion to faithfully pray for the healing of my friend?s mother, I thought that coming to the morning Mass in addition wouldn?t hurt. So there you go, two beautiful Masses on Sunday.
Another thing interested me from the streaming Mass was the fact that I saw in there Father Miguel Marie, M.F.V.A, the first Indonesian priest ordained in the United States. He helped Father Angelus in reading a portion of the Eucharistic Prayer. Then I went back to EWTN website to find some information about him and his vocation life. Well, the bad news is I couldn?t find it, but I found something about Mother Angelica, one of the founders of EWTN in Irondale, Alabama. I found out that she currently suffers from the exactly same illness suffered by my friend?s mother!!! Instantly, I crossed myself and began to pray, ?Mother Angelica, pray with me as we walk this road together.? After that, I felt strength and confidence in God. Imagine that every incident, every encounter was leading me to the fulfillment of the promise of healing.
I went to the 11:30 Mass at St. Vincent de Paul in Huntington Beach. Guess what is the Gospel for that particular Sunday. Yes, it is about the Samaritan who gives thanks and praise for the healing he received from God. Jesus said, ?Your faith has saved you.? I knew my faith increased over these past couple days as I obediently walk with Jesus to Emmaus. I believed healing would take place if I consistently pray with all of my being.
On the evening, I went to watch the movie called ?Therese? with my friends Damasus, Cynthia, and Harry. Of course, the movie was about our great St. Therese of Lisieux, one of the patron saints for the Carmelites. This movie is awesome! It?s so inspirational. It personally teaches me that I don?t have to do great things to become a saint. There are a lot of small things pleasing to the Father that you and I can do for peace. It is touching to watch Therese?s suffering during her childhood, including her illness, but it is amazing to learn her perseverance by her special devotion to Our Lady. She gave me so much hope, a hope for healing.
Monday, October 11, lived up by the promise to my friends; I started to go to daily mass. I usually got off from work at five and there is daily mass at 5:30 at a church nearby called Our Lady of the Angels. After Mass, I kneeled and prayed to Our Lady. I started calling her with an intimate name ?Mom? and I believed that only the grace of God made this possible.
As I walked out the Church, a young lady approached me and she immediately told me her intention. She pleaded, ?Do you have three to seventeen dollars? I just recently got a job but I will not get my paycheck ?till Friday.? Well, to be honest, I?m not a major donator in my parish and being approached by a stranger asking for money sounds really creepy for me. So, by reflex I answered, ?Hmm I don?t think I have cash with me,? while reaching my pocket for money. Thanks be to God there is five dollars in there. I gave it to her and she thanked me. That?s not it. She gave me three pamphlets about the Medjugorje Peace Conference which will take place during this coming weekend.
Simply, I was stunned. I couldn?t move a thing. My mind took me back to the Easter Vigil incident on a cold day in Chicago back in 2002. I really hope you know what happened to me back then when I rejected Jesus as He came to me using a young African-American body. I undid the past! God gave me a second change and I succeeded. I looked back to check on the young lady but I could see her no more. I hurried to my car and see what?s inside the pamphlet and suddenly I realized, there are not only one or two but three, imaging the Blessed Trinity. What other signs do you need to believe?!?!?! For me, this is more than a sign. This is a confirmation. I promised myself that I would go to this conference. I?m not sure what will happen to me by going to this conference, but one thing I believe is that my participation will be a significant step in my journey, a journey to be fully united with Mary.
On Tuesday and Wednesday I kept coming to daily mass and the more frequent I came, the more graces I received from the Father through Mary. In this way, God gave me an opportunity to receive His ?daily bread? which is the Eucharist. The Lord?s Prayer was fulfilled at Mass word for word!
Those days went faster than I expected. On Thursday evening, my friend called me and gave me ?the good news?. Yes and thanks be to God, her mother went out from the hospital. Although she was still under medication, I was totally relieved to hear that the doctor permitted her to stay at home. Just like the Samaritan gave thanks to Jesus for the healing, I praised the Lord that evening in songs for His wondrous deeds! I also thank the Blessed Virgin for her never-ending intercession for my prayers. My heart was full of thanksgiving.
I sat down in silence and closed my eyes for a while. I realized that my pain was gradually withering. It seemed like God said to me in the beginning of the journey, ?Go on my son, take care of your friend?s mum and I will take a good care of you.? I must admit that I don?t know my friend?s mother. I haven?t met her or even said hello to her. All I know is that she is a wonderful mother that raises three wonderful children. Yet it did not stop me from giving to her the best thing I can do, which was prayers, for she lived thousand miles away. When I pray, I give it all, as if only my prayers that matter. I pray with all of my being, with everything I have to give.
It is amazing to know that my father in heaven drew me closer to the mother of the family, which is Mary because He knew that Mary is the heart of the family of God, just like every mother in our human families.
I remember St. Francis of Assisi?s beautiful prayer, ?It is in giving that we receive.? I think I know what it really means to me. Father Antonio Lopez of Huntington Beach said in his homily last Sunday, ?When you pray, God pours down His graces upon you,? and I received even more graces by coming to daily Mass, letting my spirit, soul, and body to be the resting place of our Lord Jesus Christ.
During these past two weeks I?ve learned a very good lesson. It is when you feel weak, neglected, and confused, you still can give something to others. You can be a healer even when you are wounded. It is the core teaching of St. Francis of Assisi and also of St. Therese of Lisieux. Therese was ill and dying from tuberculosis, yet her life inspired and transformed the lives of many.
My friend?s mother has become my teacher of love. She called me to pray with all of my being for her. She reminded me the need to go to daily mass, to be united body and soul with Jesus everyday. She planted those seeds of faith into my heart as we walk together in suffering with hope for healing and joy. Jesus asked the disciples, ?Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?? I believe this is the very same question for all of us and I realize that the cup of life Jesus offered is not only the cup of suffering, but also the cup of joy. As we hold, lift, and finally drink the cup, we participate in the dying and rising with Christ.
Like me, you must find your own ?teacher of love?. When you feel weak, rejected, and lonely, you are blessed, but you will be more blessed when you find your teacher of love. He might be very close to you and she might live right down the street from you. Parents ? look at your children for they are teachers of love. Whoever they may be, pray and sacrifice something for them ? for it is in giving that you receive.
When you found your teachers of love, love them with humility like Jesus loves you and give them everything you can offer. Never expect for rewards for life-giving love is total self-donation. I hope that we will all discover what love means for every single one of us and I believe that one day, we will become teachers of love for others and thus become what Pope John Paul II said, a civilization of love.
Let us pray. Almighty and living God, we thank you that in every beat of our heart You invite us to experience a more intimate relationship with You, but sometimes we are weak, rejected, persecuted, confused, and lonely. Give us faith, Abba Father, to use our time wisely for the benefits of those ?little ones? and the Lazaruses of our time. Let them be our great teachers of love so that we may freely give ourselves to them without holding anything back. Mater Dei, pray with us and pray for us. Let us entrust our prayers and families into your warm embrace. Hail Mary ?
With praise and thanksgiving,