A reflection on the book El Camino de Santiago by Madel Punzalan, CFC FFL Fulltime Worker. El Camino de Santiago is a book written by our Servant General, Frank Padilla.
I am so blessed that I was in a mission trip when I started reading El Camino De Santiago. It became so personal to me because it’s as if, God was speaking to me every day through the wisdom of our servant general. It served as my daily reflections for our 27-day Live Pure mission in Mindanao. Pondering the personal messages of the Lord to me through our experiences which are also related to my reflections on this book, allow me to share to you what I have learned and the things I was reminded of.
First is that, we ought to stay humble all the time.
Last March 9 until April 4 of this year, we’ve been to many parts of Mindanao (Misamis Oriental, Cagayan De Oro, Bukidnon, Davao City, Davao Del Sur, General Santos, Sarangani Province and South Cotabato) mainly to share to the young people the gospel of purity, the beauty of waiting and the message of hope. Every day, at the end of every session, many students were clamoring on us to take a photo, to give a written note of thanksgiving and to tell us how thankful they were because of what we have shared to them.
Our calling will always be a privilege. In the entire mission that we do, many people get to follow and adore you. We receive so many gifts, praises and kind words. Truly, we feel so glad and we feel a sense of fulfillment that we are doing the right thing and we are where we supposed to be. But we have to be more vigilant with ourselves of what we feel, of what we think and of the succeeding actions that we will do.
Everything happens because in everything there is grace. We did not bring Christ on that mission because He’s already there. In fact, He’s always present everywhere. But in every mission and in our daily grind, it’s our challenge to reflect Christ through our personal lives even to our unguarded moments. We are merely vessels of His love. We strive to give the best talk and to engage to all the people we encounter to and we pray that they may not remember us (not even our names) but only Christ. Humility. Humility. Humility. Everything happens because it all comes from God. It was, it is and it will always be His grace that we become His instruments to spread His message of love and hope to the whole world. At the end of the day, may we never ever forget to bring it all back to Him, our ultimate Source.
Secondly, I was reminded that we always have to keep our intentions pure and be motivated by our genuine love for God.
We strive to give our all. We do all the tasks excellently but we may also remember that it is only God whom we please and not men. Sometimes we are so agitated to post the documentations and let the people know, “Hey! We have reached it. We’ve made those things. I did it.” And whenever we felt it was really a job well done, we wait for recognition or for someone to appreciate our work. But no; it’s not our work but it is the work of God through the power of the Holy Spirit in us. I think it’s normal that sometimes we seek recognitions or affirmations because we get pumped up by it. But regardless if we receive something or none, may we continue to give our all for the sake of our love for God and for His people. As servants and missionaries, let our motivation to do God’s work will always be what pleases Him and wait as He says “Well done my good and faithful servant”. We go back to what is essential. We go back to the very reason of giving our ‘Yes’ to God to do His work. Yes, it is His work and not ours.
‘Let all you do be done in love’ (1Cor.16:14) and for Love – for God Himself alone. I have realized that truly, when you do it out love, everyone gets affected by it. For the many schools we’ve been, we get to encounter all sorts of people in different places, language/dialects, culture and even different religions (like our Muslim brethrens there). But so long as you have done it with love, it can enter even the stoniest of hearts. I am always amazed how God touches every soul that we talked to. It consumes our whole being the way we strive hard to effectively tell them how special they are and how God loves them so much. Yes, it is so exhausting to do it four times a day, every day. But because we have recognized the Gift and so we would also want others to recognize this Gift in their lives. I thank the Lord for this kind of desire to let the people take and believe in this gift which made me who I am today. After the talk or whatever encounter/mission it was, I am forever grateful that they have taken this little piece of me to become part of them that somehow they can hold on to, pace away from the session hall and be changed by. It is no longer I but it is Christ who lives in me.
Lastly is to always and always stay deeply rooted to God and rekindle your intimacy with Him.
Our mission takes a lot from us – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and even financially. It gets bigger and bigger. We are commissioned to do things that are bigger than ourselves. Our life as a missionary is a blessing and at the same time is a cross that we have to embrace and joyfully bear.
Pains and sufferings are inevitable in response to our obedience to this calling. As the mission gets intensify so as our relationship with God must be more intensified! If you are not deeply rooted, you will get easily tempted- to give up, to give in to temptations or to seek your own comfort rather than giving other comfort. When we are always connected, we will have the strength that can only be found in Him, to bear our crosses without breaking. Because we are so intimate with Lord, we are so confident that the difficulties we are in today and the challenges ahead of us shall pass because God is with us. We just have to keep going. We have to keep striving to live the life of Christ so we can also share Christ. The cross of being His disciple is our camino. This is our camino that will bring us closer to Christ and will eventually leads us to Him in eternal life.