Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Private Tiny

Drill Sergeant PG, as usual, came out early to wake the squad of young penguin recruits in the boot camp.  In less than five minutes, they were all good to go for the cold morning run, swim and catch exercises that would take nearly a day.  They were told that the trainings these days were more grueling than in the past, as the ocean was more polluted and the fishes fewer.

Except for Private Tiny, the rest of the squad had the build and stamina to cope up with the standards of Drill Sergeant. Private Tiny always came out last in the every aspect of the exercises. Even how much the Drill Sergeant pushed him, still the little penguin just couldn’t cope up.

When graduation time came, each of the cadets was given their assignment. All except Private Tiny took the heroic task of hunting for food in the farther parts of the ocean.  He was given the post of lookout, to march to and fro daily at one of the higher elevations near the colony.  It was a thankless job, without much challenge.  But Private Tiny attended to his job enthusiastically and diligently. Tasked to make a daily account of what he observed, Private Tiny made detailed reports to the Chief Scribe.

One day, Private Tiny noticed an unusual movement in the glacier overlooking the colony.  At first, there were snowflakes as the wind became stronger than usual.  This was a snow storm! He immediately ran towards the warning horn and sounded this with all his might.  The sound stunned all the penguins, as they moved in fast cadence to a safe area. And then suddenly, an avalanche of snow totally wiped out the penguin colony.  Not one penguin died, except that Private Tiny was missing.

The penguin community including Drill Sergeant PG and the squad searched for Private Tiny.  They found him buried under the snow, just a few meters from the warning horn. And he was breathing! They carried him to the where everyone had settled and as he regained consciousness he could hear them shout, “Tiny, our hero!”

Saint Benedict the Black was a slave who became a solitary. Though he did not know how to read and write, he became the superior in the hermit community which was disbanded by Pope Pius IV.  He persisted in serving the Church, settling as a Franciscan lay brother and cook of St Mary’s convent near Palermo. He rose through the ranks becoming the superior of the convent, only to be relieved and returned to being the cook.  He attended to his assigned task with fervor and love, while at the same time performed miracles, and was sought as a confessor that brought many to the faith.  Though humble was his work as a cook, he became God’s instrument to be believers and unbelievers.


There is no thankless job. Everyone has an assigned role in the world, and we are meant to do our job well out of love. How therefore should you approach your job? “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people…The Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Gwardia

The sheep farm was safe from wolves.  Farmer relied much on Gwardia, the guard dog, who had proven time and again of his courage against the predators that preyed on the sheep.  At times, Gwardia would bark aloud to awaken Farmer who’d bring his shotgun to scare the wolves.  But there was one time that Farmer was too tired that he failed to wake up; leaving Gwardia to fight off two wolves.  The guard dog suffered deep wounds, but was able to recover and return to his duty.  

One particular night, a she wolf lured Gwardia away from his post, while the rest of the pack killed several sheep.  Gwardia was then attacked by the wolves and would have died, had he not crawled towards a hole enough for him to hide.  For days, he took refuge in the hole. Though hungry and weak, he did have not courage enough to return to Farmer, ashamed of his failure.  

Little did Gwardia know; that Farmer was searching for him.   It was the fourth day that Gwardia could hear the voice of Farmer growing nearer and nearer.  Gwardia wanted to stay hidden, and just die in the hole; yet he could feel Farmer’s voice of worry and care.  Gwardia forced a deep howl of repentance that caught the attention of Farmer who pulled him out. Farmer then carried Gwardia tenderly back to the house.

The parable of the lost sheep and that of the prodigal son come to mind.  The shepherd left the ninety-nine in open country to look for one lost sheep. And even if his son squandered all that he had given him, the father was overjoyed when his prodigal son returned home.

For as long as one repents and turns a new leaf in life, God will embrace the individual in His loving arms.  Mary Magdalene was a sinner; yet she turned her back on her life of prostitution to follow the ways of Jesus, and as such, is revered as a saint.  According to one author, “there are over thirty saints who were very ungodly before they changed and after some time achieved saintly characters.” Among those are St Paul, St Olga, St Mary the Egyptian and St Camillus de Lellis.

How many times have we failed to follow God’s commands? We hide in our shame. There are others who take their own lives unable to cope with the burden they carry.  But we are never held captive by sin and Satan.  We can call upon God.  He is just a whisper away. “God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.” (Psalm 53:2)

Monday, 6 October 2014

Supreme Moa

The land later called Aotearoa was uninhabited except for birds. The vegetation was lush and bountiful. The eagle was the king of the skies.

Yet there were flightless birds whose wings were not strong enough to take them off the ground.  The moa was supreme in the ground.  The mature ones reached 12 feet in height and weighed 510 pounds. With its beak like a pair of secateurs, it could easily clip leaves and twigs for food. And when provoked, these beaks proved fatal to others.

No bird would want to ever encounter a moa. More so by the almost blind kiwi birds that could see about six feet at night and around two feet during the day.  

An elder kiwi bird told others of how he had seen the might of the moa when a fight ensued between the giant bird and an eagle. He was so near that he was almost hit by the giant feet of the moa.  The eagle attacked the moa, but the latter was able to bite the former’s face, knocking it to the ground. The eagle died as the huge claws of the moa flattened its body to the ground. The story spread among the kiwi birds that then feared moas.  Most decided to hide underground and settled for worms as food.

Then the Maori people came and settled in the land.  The huge birds became fair game. With their slow speed in running and their having difficulty hiding their huge bodies, the giant birds were killed for their meat. The kiwi birds remained in hiding, safe from humans. When they were discovered, people had other sources of food, and the kiwi birds were deemed unattractive for cooking.

Today, the kiwi bird is protected, while the moa has long been extinct.

The world has seen the rise of mighty empires, yet not any of them survived.  Either they were conquered or succumbed to internal strife. Then there are communities that remain intact for centuries, untouched by civilization, living in harmony with nature.

Many people in these modern times seek fame and fortune, yet they fall hard in sin and shame; while there are those who commit to living in poverty and prayer, and are rewarded by the Living God with eternal bliss.


“Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last." (Luke 13:30)

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

MaBird

MaBird left her four baby birds in the nest as she searched for food very early in the morning.  She looked for worms in the meadows, in the bushes and in the trees.  Four worms or insects would just be fine; instead, she was lucky, having caught six worms.  She ate one for herself as she needed to energize herself for the day.  Nearing the nest, she could hear the young ones crying out for food.

 When she landed, the birdies had wide-opened bills. She fed one worm each.  When they had consumed their share, they started to ask for the last one with MaBird.  It was not much of a problem for MaBird; she had divided the one worm into five pieces.

Fr Alfonso Dujali of St Joseph Catholic Church, Helensville, in one of his homilies shared his experience in Papua New Zealand when he was assigned in a remote island.  To spice up the calendar of activities, he proposed the holding of sports competition during a meeting among the locales. He said that the champion would get the highest cash prize, while the second and third placers get lower amounts of cash prizes. What happened next surprised him.

The participants in the meeting would not agree to the proposal on the prizes. He then asked why. The response was: the prizes should be equally divided. He then realized that the tradition of the people of the island was that whatever was brought to the community, everyone had an equal share.

In today’s world of materialism and competition, people tend to obtain more than they need and win at all cost. While these may have contributed to economic progress and innovations on one side, the downside is the increase in the gap between the haves and have-nots. I remember some time ago that farmers in a European country decided to dump their produce into the sea rather than give these away to people in the verge of starvation in Africa.


Humanity must unlearn some of practices of modern societies, and return to those that created communities where there was peace, harmony and equality. “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.”  (Acts 4:32)

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Smalley

It was the night before the grand family party. Most of the dogs were at the front yard guarding the house against intruders.  One tiny dog named ‘Smalley”, though was relegated to the backyard, as he was deemed without much of a bark, without much of a bite.  No one dared enter the gates, as the guard dogs were alert. 

Unknown to them, a motley crew of thieves climbed their way up the fence behind the house deep in the night. ‘Smalley’ barked and attacked the intruders.  Threatened and kicked, ‘Smalley’ persisted. For a moment, the house occupants heard the little dog. But instead of going out to see what was happening, shouted, “Shut up!” “Smalley” could not do anything more, for even the guard dogs didn’t mind him at all. The thieves were able to steal many items from the house that the party had to be postponed.

New Zealand conducted elections for its Parliament on September 20. During the campaign period, the Conservative Party (CP) that stood for Christian principles and traditional family values, campaigned intensely, but was barely noticed as the bigger parties, National, Labour and Greens, took primetime media coverage. Two other parties - NZ First and Internet-Mana - indulged in attention-grabbing controversies to entice voters for their causes. 

Sadly, there were those who criticized the Conservative Party for trying to bring New Zealand back to the “dark ages”, as if, good morals and traditional values have become outdated and passé. CP obtained 4.1% of the overall party votes, .8% short to bring its candidates to Parliament.  Like “Smalley”, CP barked hard, but failed to gain the needed support to have its voice heard in the legislature. But its leader, Colin Craig, said that he isn’t giving up, and will be back in three years time. Surely not, as CP is now ranked as the fifth most important party in New Zealand.

“Smalley” and the Conservative Party are voices in the wilderness, much like that of John the Baptist. “A voice of one calling: "In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3) “Wilderness” in the modern world no longer applies to a place, but rather to the lifestyle of people.  For in the “wilderness” there is sinfulness that direct people from the highway to God to a desert of temptation, selfishness and immorality.

John persisted in his calling and according to one writer, “he was a "voice", but not a mere voice; nor was his ministry a mere voice of words, as the law was, but it was the sweet voice of the Gospel, proclaiming the coming of the Messiah; encouraging men to believe in him; calling them to evangelical repentance, and publishing remission of sins in the name of Christ, and pointing him out as the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world: this voice was "crying"; it was not a still small voice, it was a very loud one; John lifted up his voice like a trumpet; he delivered himself with great zeal and fervency; and it was "in the wilderness" where this voice was heard.”

In due time, the small voices in the likes of Colin Craig will become louder, and resonate through society.