Reflection on Reward

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” Mt 10:42

My mother did not raise me with the reward and punishment attitude. We do our task and duties not because there is a reward at the end, but because i was trained to be responsible of own my life and responsibilities. That is why I am not so particular with rewards. Though, I used to give something in return especially when I asked favors from somebody.

Even if I was raised that way, i have also received rewards in different forms and occasion such as academic honors and recognitions. I also experienced receiving appreciation for my accomplishments, especially with regards to my initiatives back in high school and college being the student council president. Some people might say that i’m very confident and comfortable with myself, perhaps, because I have so much experiences of recognition, appreciation and other sorts of “rewards” that are very esteeming. Nevertheless, these “rewards” are not lasting. The feeling of happiness and satisfaction would only last for a day or two…

When I was asked to give a short reflection and insight on Mt. 10: 42, my reflection brought me back to my missionary experience when I was first sent to Basilan for my two-month exposure as a novice. Though the expereince was so short, I consider it as one of the defining moments of missionary vocation.

We were asked to facilitate the recollection for the students of Claret School of Tumahubong.

Tumahubong is a part of the municipality of Sumisip, Basilan. It is a two-hour travel from Isabela City, the capital of Basilan. It is known to be a critical area since lawless elements are just around. It is where Fr. Rhoel Gallardo, CMF, was abducted together with the teachers and students back in 2000.  Eventually, Fr. Rhoel was martyred.

Sometime in October 2011, few weeks before we set our foot in Basilan, some of the  “Gomeros” (Rubber tree planters/harvesters) died in an ambush. The situation was indeed critical. I was actually assigned to spend my two-month exposure there, but since the situation was unstable, I was told by my superior to stay in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Maluso, another town in Basilan, where the situation is better. But we still have to go there and stay for four days for the recollection of the students.

On Dec. 16, 2012, the parish priest together with his staff and his 8 military security fetched us. I was sitting next to the parish priest who was driving a car. We were in convoy with the advance party security. We were conversing while travelling, but when we reached the place they call “Calvary” we began to pray the Rosary while all the security were in firing position. We are already traversing the road where there were many high grounds and ambush sites.

At first, I felt so uneasy. My mind was anxious and alert. My eyes were sharply rolling that I may anticipate any untoward incident. I was very tensed. But then, I asked myself, “Why should I be afraid?” “Why should I be afraid to die?” I told myslef, “if I will be ambushed here and die, at least I die because I was sent…. sent as a missionary novice.” I was there not of my own will, but of God’s, channeled through the discernment of my Novicemaster whom i believed had prayed and discerned well.

When it was announced to me on October 10, 2011 that I will be sent to Tumahubung, Basilan, I was very emotional. Tears was running through my face when I said, ” I accept.” There’s really fear inside of me. There was full of uncertainties that made me anxious. But there was no second thought of refusing. It was actually, for me, a graced moment of being sent to mission as a missionary.

I realized that I my firm disposition to accept the assignment and to set forth to the mission is coming from my faith and strong conviction of being called by God into this religious missionary life as a Claretian. Thus, this conviction continues to give me the assurance that whatever happens God will always be there, because, He was the first to call me. It’s God who called and invested in me.

At the end, I am sure that there is God who will reward me, a reward that is lasting, a recompense of His love, mercy and compassion. God will reward me not because I have given a cup of cold water to one of these little ones. But because I am my Father’s child.

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