By Antoine Mushagalusa, SX
One of the most liked jokes I learned in my class discourses is the metaphor on following. Following the path of Theology is to really listen to and love the path of God. At that time, Dr. Yap, my Trinity teacher and mentor said, “it is better to have a moving Car on the wrong road rather than a Car without wheels.” Of course, everyone in the classroom laughed jut as me. However, I agreed with him that as long as the car moves, the driver can still bring it to the right side. So it is for our Theological search, the search for GOD, the search for Truth. The Irony of that saying was asking the student to charge the hearty batteries and have a free consent to FOLLOW someone (Jesus) rather than getting tired and losing the sense itself. Yes, it is describing well the confusing, graceful and wonderful moments I had in the Philippines through school and Xavierian communities; a time of true experience. Why grace? Why true experience? Why now?
From my teachers, I understood that Grace is not something to ask for but someone to love and rely on. In other words, grace walks with us. It is God’s self-giving, a gift to the human person. In my experience, I came to the Philippines six years ago with a very weak and fearful heart. My heart was so cold and desperate. The Fear of the future was prevailing and making me miss the path of God at some points. However, keeping hope enabled me to see, love and seek Christ above all. It was in 2013 when I started my first year of Theology at LST that grace as a word meant to me. I cannot forget the inputs about Holistic Spirituality, Revelation and Faith, Christology and Sin and Grace […]. From these tiring handouts and books, I learned how to collaborate to that very much rich presence which is constant and faithful to me. That time was the graceful moment as we use to sing in the Theology house. This grace made me strong and resilient to the point that my failures or some occasion of low grades did not keep me busy. I believe I was already in touch with the mystery of God Himself. Maybe God knew what He was preparing me for; I said the time I felt sleepy instead of studying, going to the malls instead of praying, talking to vulgus instead of reading favorite Theologians like K. Rhaner, Benedict XVI, and Von Balthasar. In the end, the experience of these inconsistencies made me sure that Grace was, is and will be at work.
It is a true experience.
It is true because I feel happy and free this time for God. Yes, the truth for which we fought, stood by and believed in becomes the reason and answer to our quests. Truth has been the answer to my many Theological questions presented starting from boarding to school, at the LST lobby, in the classrooms to the community table. It is neither a thing nor a fabricated and manipulated fact. Rather, the truth is a Person: JESUS. In my experience, some people would prefer to have manufactured and pre-packaged “truths” rather than be challenged by authentic truth. It is okay. But, in the LST, I have learned that truth is always beyond any finite creation, including, and perhaps especially, us, human beings. Our society has so compromised the truth that it has allowed itself to bow down to gods and goddesses of lies and half-truths in the personages of our leaders and their blinded followers. Today, factual truth is measured by faith and love: Love and believe so that you may have eternal life in you, would say St. John.
At the graduation mass, I heard that I have become part of Pope Francis batch. Yes, the owner of this thought explained his creativity when he said that “Fellow graduates and our dear professors and guests, I will not be timid to tell you that this is the first batch of students that entered LST right after the election of Pope Francis in 2013.” This aspect gave me the clear hints of my graduation. One of them is to be conscious of the pivotal attitude of Pope Francis vis-à-vis the Church and the world. At his election, Pope Francis asked for prayer. Moreover, he exhorted us to be merciful and poor Church for the poor. For me, this graduation becomes a sign of being sent on a mission of mercy and solidarity with the poor. The other hint is the proclamation. When the time came, Jesus breathed upon his own followers the Spirit and sent them to proclaim. As a disciple theologian, I am called to proclaim the Good news to all creature while following and defending the Truth. Shall I baptize, confirm or convert? I do not know. What I remember is that I have to proclaim Christ. This is the reality now.
Finally, I am leaving this Country with tears of joy. I am happy and grateful to God, the master of life, who made this happen. He makes everything beautiful in various ways. Grateful to our Congregation, the Xavierian family that sent me to the Philippines for my Theology Studies and first mission. Thankful to those great and kind Filipino people with whom I have been journeying since the beginning of the school, in the community, and in the apostolate. Now, I move to Burundi with an open heart and mind to put into practice what I have learned in the Asian context. I hope it will much with the African context, and if not, I will learn at any cost. God is just Good and we shall let Him be God. Hence, my studying adventure has been a grace-filled moment, a true experience and a reality now.