The Essence of Faith: Love
By Apolinario Villalobos
A viewer of my blogs for a long time, and who I met personally upon his request, asked me if I was a “minister” because of my shares about God, religion, faith, etc. I told him that my heart was open to any religion, but not a minister. He was surprised and before he could ever mention something that would trigger a never ending discussion on religion, I just asked him to believe in God…period. However, to help him understand how it could be possible, I told him to appreciate what the ministers of the different religions were doing, as long as they preach nothing else but love of God and others. Also, to just open his mind to all that they preach, and absorb in his heart what he thought he could practice with sincerity, still, based on love.
I told the guy that, the essence of Faith is love. It is only by acting out this essence that we can show our Faith. If we believe that God exists, then, we can act out what He wants us to do…love others. I added that sacrifice is sacrificing for others – literally. These could be sharing our money, food, clothing, etc. with others; giving up of our seat to an elderly, a person with disability, a pregnant woman; giving up of our place in a queue. And, since I am not bound to become a saint, I told him that I do not do sacrifices that can hurt me, most especially, fasting because I might develop ulcer, and if I have emaciated myself, how can I serve others? We have to be mentally and physically fit so that we can be strong enough to “carry” others, I added.
I found out that the guy who asked to meet me confided that he and his wife were planning to go on separate ways and thought of seeking my advice. He must have thought that I was an authority on this matter. They have four children. While he was 37 years old, his wife was 33. When I asked if it is okay for me to meet his wife, he acceded. He asked if we could meet again the next Saturday during which he would bring me to his home for lunch.
The following Saturday, the guy picked me at the restaurant as agreed and brought me to their home in Bel-Air, Makati. I was introduced to the wife who was strikingly pretty, but only their two kids were around. Over coffee after lunch, I opened up the subject of separation, as I expected the wife to have already known the reason of my coming. Emotions were controlled during our talk. I found out that no human third party was involved. The culprit was the conversion of the wife to a Christian sect! The husband remained a staunch Catholic. The decision to split came from the wife who obviously became a fanatic practitioner of her new-found faith.
I asked the wife if her pastor knew about her plan of breaking up with her husband, and she answered in the negative. She admitted that her decision came about as dictated by her “feeling” and conscience as a new Christian. When I asked, if they and their children go to Mass regularly before the wife became a new Christian, both looked at each other first before answering in the negative. Hearing that, I told them that they have no problem, as they can go their own way according to their faith, and let the children choose who among them (parents) to accompany during the day of worship. Most importantly, they should not impose on each other what one believes based on the earthly teachings that they learn. Both remained silent for a long time.
I told the couple that they should not make their respective faith as reason in breaking their family up. Turning to the wife, I told her that I am sure, her Christian pastor will not agree to her decision of separating from her husband. I told her that she is worshipping the same God as her husband as a Catholic. There could be “innovations” on the part of the new Christian sects, I told her, but they have the same faith. I told them that it is senseless for them to break up a home after having four children just because she became a new Christian.
Before I left them, I told the story of a couple who decided to split due to the involvement of a third party, but which I was able to prevent. I told them that they should be thankful that this kind of a “third party” interference did not happen to their marital relationship, for it could have been worse.
The episode happened in the middle of 2014, I think, during the month of May. Two weeks after I had a heart to heart talk with the couple, I received a call from the husband who invited me to join his family for lunch at a restaurant in Greenbelt, Makati on a Sunday. At the restaurant, I found out that they attended the Mass that morning – this time, the whole family, with the couple’s four children. They told me that they decided not to break up anymore, and that their family would attend both Catholic and Christian worships, as there was no conflict in schedule, anyway. On that day, very obvious was the presence of love in the way they touched and talked to each other. Praise the Lord!