When I first came to America, one of the movies that were shown to me was “Forrest Gump.” To be honest, I did not understand much at first. However, as I gained a better grasp and understanding of English, I remembered watching it again. When I finally understood the movie, I was able to appreciate its message of simple goodness and faithful love, even if it means that one has to go through life with many trials in the between. Its message reminds us that we are called to render good and justice from the bottom of our hearts, even when those who are around us might not appreciate it or even when life gives us many lemons. It really does not take a genius or someone “highly capable” to do be kind and good from the heart!
Similar to Forrest’s famous “My momma always said…” lines, which he took to heart what his mother tried to pervade as essential values and skills in life, my mother used to teach and remind us often to remember those who had done good and helped us as to repay them for their kindness. Even today, she reminds us to remain humble and give ourselves to others without counting the costs since “heaven knows and sees our deeds.” These fundamental values and foundational virtues are important for my mother, and I would imagine, important to many of us who are trying to instill important life-long skills and lessons to our younger generations.
My mother reminds us often of the people who helped us along the way, who went out of their ways when they did not have to, as well as those who have had been kind to us. They are important memories and people for her because of how they practiced kindness and compassion. Perhaps coming from a war-torn country with many trials and hardships growing up, she appreciated those who helped even though they did not have to, those who chose to go beyond themselves and reached out because of their kindness. My mother tries to instill within us the values of compassion and kindness, engaging and choosing to help someone even though it might be hard at times. It is not always easy, but she wants us to always remember what it means to be humans by how we care for one another!
Throughout the Sacred Scriptures, especially reading the Gospel passages of the Lord‘s last days, we can contemplate and see what it meant to love in a radical way. The Gospels remind us, in their own unique ways, of the ultimate love Christ gave to us, even when we dealt and returned to it to Him in unkind, selfish, destructive, unfair, and unimaginable ways. As Christians, we are called to be like Christ, not just in His glory and resurrection, but how we conform ourselves to His passion and death as well. Just like in life when we have good days, there will also be challenging times. Just like there are sunny weather and blessings, there will be storms and trials. Even though we are the Easter people who believe in the power of the resurrection, its redemptive and salvific results of Christ‘s sacrificial love, we are also the people who embrace and live the powerful message of the Cross as well.
When we were in quarantine, I came across a short series on Netflix named, Dracula. We know for a fact that he was cruel count and heartless warlord who had done terrible things to his enemies, hence his cruelties later earned him the infamous stories and legends as a blood-craving vampire. Hence, this series portrayed him as a handsome but cunning, manipulative, and bloodthirsty vampire that plays with people’s mind as to trick them to give themselves to him. Even though he can play with their minds and persuades them to invite him or allow him to drink their blood, he cannot enter into one’s abode without their actual consent. Being an attractive, smart, and cunning person who has acquired a lot of skills from the blood of the people that he drinks, he is able to maneuver and plays with people’s minds to get his way. Once he enters a place of residence, he devours everyone who is in it because he thirsts for blood, as it gives him an extension of life. Without giving too many details of the story, there comes a time when the question of why he fears the Cross arise. Even though he says that he acquires the “superstitious fears” from the blood of ignorant and uneducated peasants that he feasted, it later comes to be known that Count Dracula is nothing than a fearful person who is scared of death. Even though he comes from a long line of warriors and is cunning, he is scared of losing control, not having things his ways, and especially to face death like every other mortal. He is willing to kill others, drink their blood to live as well to acquire their skillsets as to be in control. The powerful vampire is nothing more than a person who has a fragile ego that is willing to do everything to hide it, even if it means to hurt others! Hence, it is revealed that he is scared of the Cross because it manifests the greatest attitude of courage and self-giving love that he never has as a pitiful and power-obsessed person.
I believe this small series reveals something that we can all relate to because we can find ourselves to be similar to Dracula and his desire to be in control, have things our ways, and look good in front of others. Yet, it also speaks of a powerful message of the Cross, of self-giving and courageous love that conquered and overcame all evils of this world! In a day and age where many people want to make a weak, serving, and butler version of God to serve our needs because we want to possess power, prestige, wealth, beauty, control, and the likes, the message and reality of Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection speak of the courage that we are called to imitate, emulate, and live as His disciples. The greatest love and courage lie in the ability to free ourselves from what the world wants of us and what we want to do in order to cover our fragile ego! True freedom and liberation are found in and through the Gospel as we rid of ourselves from the slavery of sin, worldly allurements, manipulations, lies, and controls as to live according to we are called to be — sons and daughters of God.
Therefore, as we continue to live in this challenging time, may we rise above the things that hold us back as to experience the Easter joy! As the King of the Universe, Jesus did not have to die for us. He could just have forgiven us as any royals would have done. However, power and mere forgiveness were not what He is about! He loves us and gave Himself for us without cutting any corners or taking any shortcuts. He endured all the pains and sufferings — if not, more — to show us that we are worth redeeming, saving, and loving until the very end. He gave Himself up as the sacrificial expiation of our sins, hence giving us a real and personal testimony of what it means to love by the giving of one’s self genuinely with courage. Therefore, let us imitate His love and emulate His courage in how we live, act, speak, and share our faith in Him as His disciples.