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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, March 5, 2018
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Rock and Refuge
with Fr. Roy Cimagala

Solving puzzles

Rock & Refuge

Someone gifted me with some boxes of puzzles the other day. I thanked him profusely, of course. But I immediately turned those puzzles over to the school where I work, because I feel the students would need and enjoy them more than I would.

Truth is I have more than enough puzzles to solve everyday. Just figuring out what to say in the homily for my daily Masses is already one, and a big one at that. What to advise a penitent in confession, how to motivate a student with flagging spirit, how to help the many beggars I meet everyday in the streets, are some of the puzzles I have to solve.

And there are a lot more. There are daily challenges to face, trials to cope with, mysteries to fathom, surprises and other unexpected things, sometimes unpleasant ones, to tackle, etc. Of course, from time to time, as a form of rest and recreation I play games and I’m already happy with a few minutes with the Sudoku. That would already refresh my mind.

I suppose we just have to be game again when these puzzles come. I have learned to look at them as God’s way to make my life exciting and adventurous, drawing from me some creative juices. Sometimes I feel that God is playing games with me, just to humor me.

Thus, I was happy to discover in the Book of Proverbs a passage that says that Wisdom, the Old Testament allusion to Christ, enjoys, laughs and plays with the people of the world. “He rejoiced in his whole world,” it says, “and delights in mankind.” (8,31)

At first, as a young boy, I would be easily and badly affected by life’s puzzles, distressed and pained as I felt I was confused and getting lost. It was only sometime later that I discovered there was no point to react and to feel that way. I realized that feeling worried over them did not help any, but would rather just make things worse. That’s thanks to my spiritual adviser who showed me the light.

So, I suppose, we just have to play along, doing the best that we can give, though it’s clear that many times, our best would still not be enough and would still be made a lot better. So we should just be game with the whole thing.

Besides, Christ told us clearly: “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.” (Mt 6,34) What a relief to hear those words!

Of course, a certain toughness is needed here also, a toughness that is compatible with flexibility and adaptability, a toughness that does not make us lose our human tenderness. We should still manage to smile, to be light-hearted, positive and optimistic in outlook and behavior.

This, of course, will require struggle and continuing practice. We have to learn to be humble so as to be open to the twists and turns of the many puzzles in our life and still able to hold on to our faith and trust in God’s merciful providence.

We should expect to get dirty sometimes, to suffer cuts and bruises as we play with life’s puzzles. But as long as we keep our union with God, at least in intention, God will always be on our side.

We have been reassured of this in the psalms. “This I know, that God is on my side.” (56,9) And, “With God on our side will win. He will defeat our enemies.” (108,13)*


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