This Saturday, my novitiate batchmates in the Society of Jesus will be ordained to the Priesthood. We entered together on May 30, 1999. I left the Jesuits October of 2006 but have remained in touch with them. I join their families, the Jesuit community and the church in praying for them on their special day.
I am dedicating this poem to them as they continue their lives of tending the sheep, and taking care of the flock. May the God who has begun the good work in them bring it to fulfillment in their lives. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam Frs. Chris Fajardo, Jhaw Haw, Nono Levosada, Lito Ocon, Tex Paurom, Roy Ragas, Karel San Juan!
This is also for those who have yet to be ordained: Ogie Cabayao, Jordan Orbe, Bong Dahunan, and Tony Basilio. And also for those of us who have left (I’m listing us here in the order we left): Jude Alban (who is now a diocesan seminarian for La Union, Eman Nobleza, Aldwin Mahusay, Louis Tin Maung Oo, Eric Santillan (me!), Aldrie Lim, and Renel Dimacali, who have been called to a different kind of tending and taking care of sheep–much less dramatic, but equally as difficult. The degree of difficulty is always relative anyway.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water… (John 21: 4-7)
it was after i came out of the water
and saw him smiling
that i suddenly felt cold.
i refused a coat against the cold dawn air
choosing to shield myself instead
with my guilt and remorse.
that other meal
where i offered my heart, soul, life
happened a lifetime ago.
now i only have my guilt to shield me
from the cold.
i looked for anger in his eyes
bracing myself against the blows that were sure to come.
but how do you defend yourself against love?
PETER. DO YOU LOVE ME?
i used to be brave
i used to be so sure…
now i do not know.
i’m a shadow of my former self.
…but yes. i love you. still.
PETER. DO YOU LOVE ME? STILL?
my whole being protested.
life has become so complicated.
i’m no longer the same man who promised my life to you.
i do not even know what a promise means anymore.
…but yes. still.
PETER. DO YOU LOVE ME?
you know everything.
i searched his eyes. afraid to see his unbelief.
i asked him the same question in my heart.
you? do you love me?
he embraced my doubts. put a coat on me.
Written during an 8 Day Retreat in 2006. Mirador Jesuit Villa.