Bishop Alberto Rojas
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 Dear friends, peace and wellbeing to you and to your families. I pray you are healthy and keeping safe. These are very difficult times, no doubt about it. The pandemic has disrupted everyone’s life in many different ways - more than we ever imagined. The uncertainty of all that is happening around us every day can cause us not only to feel depressed and become impatient, but also to focus on the negative side of life, of ourselves, of others, and even of the environment. Doing this can make life appear to be an even greater challenge. But it doesn’t need to be this way; just a small spin in our perspective can make a great difference.

 However, it is difficult to change our focus when we are unaware of how we are responding to what life is offering us daily. Oftentimes we react automatically to some situations out of habit. It would be beneficial for all of us to become more aware of how we are reacting so that we may be able to interrupt our behavior and respond more prudently and wisely.

 When we are faced with a challenge that turned out greater that we had anticipated, many of us “react” by believing that we are a failure. Our self-assessment is sometimes degrading. This so-called failure can remind us of other times in the past when we were unable to accomplish what we had set out to do. As we continue to focus on these shortcomings we spiral downwards and before long we may realize we have created a mountain out of a molehill. We all make mistakes one way or the other; that is how we learn. But, let us remember that mistakes do not define who we are unless we allow them to do so.

 There is always a positive and negative way to look at everything we do, but we also always have a “choice.” God created all of us in his image and likeness and gave us a free will, and having a free will implies that we have a choice. Animals do not have a choice – this is a gift bestowed only on us human beings. So, a good question is: “How do we choose?” If we choose to look at the situation in a positive manner, mistakes can be viewed as a learning experience. Once we have made the mistake, we now understand what not to do in the future; and that is a good and valuable lesson.

 We can also view the mistake in a negative manner, and when we choose to go this route it usually involves blame. We either blame ourselves or we blame another person or situation. If we notice that we are blaming or criticizing ourselves or others, that is a clue for us to pause, take a deep breath and refocus.

 Now, choosing is a great responsibility and we all need guidance in this area. The best part is that guidance is always available and all we need to do is ask. For example, before we may begin any task we can always pause and ask the Holy Spirit to assist us. Many people undermine the power of prayer, but Jesus promised to send us the Holy Spirit to be with us always. In the Gospel of John 14:25-26 Jesus says: “I have told you this while I am with you. The advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name – He will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”

 Everything means just that, “every thing.” Obviously, we mean everything that is good for us. In other words, there is never a situation or a moment in our lives that the Holy Spirit is not available to assist us. God has never abandoned us even when sometimes we might feel like we have been abandoned; He will never do it. The truth is that we have only forgotten to ask for help.

 When we classify ourselves as a failure, we diminish the potential of who we were really meant to be. As human beings, created in the image and likeness of God, we are never a failure. We are here on earth for a good purpose, to learn more about ourselves, about our loving and Creator God, and to keep a loving and peaceful relationship with God and with one another.

 Life is a precious gift and a privilege, given to us by God to enjoy it – it was never meant to be a punishment as some may see it. So, let us encourage and remind one another to focus on the real meaning of who we are. Keep in touch with Jesus and pray for one another. Let us move forward with hope and forever grateful. Smile, stay positive, and enjoy the journey. Thank you for reading this simple reflection. Peace and blessings to all!