The Sacramental Way to God

“In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)

The Sacramental  Way to God 

by Fr. Kwang-kyu Ji 

Fr. Kwang-gyu  1

Fr. Kwang-Kyu is from Korea who did his First Mission Assignment here in the Philippines in 2012.

In the Philippines, the number of coronavirus patients has dramatically increased since the beginning of March prompting President Rodrigo Duterte’s government to impose the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) over the entire Luzon area. However, the local situation is quite different now. Some cities in Luzon have opted for their own strategies, implementing the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine while other cities stay within the ECQ. It all depends on the number of the confirmed cases in their respective cities or municipalities.

I live at the Santa Rosa de Lima Parish in Cabangan, Zambales, where many Columban missionary priests in the Philippines have been.  This parish is under the Diocese of Iba. Father John Arga, my parish priest, used to be a Columban seminarian but is now a diocesan priest. I find him good, gentle, and kind.

One day, I received a message from one of the parishioners.

“Fr. Kwang-Kyu, is Fr. John in the presbytery? I had been calling him, but he didn’t answer the phone.”

I replied, “He is not here. He went to Iba. Can I ask why?”

“Because of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick,” she said. “One of my colleagues’ father is in a critical condition. Could you please come and anoint him?”

I asked her where I should go and I immediately left for the administration of the sacrament.

I arrived at his house and saw an old man in his 80's.  He was in severe pain and looked as if he was having difficulty in breathing. I thought he might be at the moment of death. I simply greeted the family members, and then administered the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

Whenever I meet people who are dying, I always ask myself, ‘What is the meaning of life?” This makes me humble and experience the grace of God in them.

Before we finished the Sacrament, I asked the family to recite ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ together. The old man was also praying with us. Afterwards, we remained silent for awhile. The house was filled with peace, and the old man was not having difficulty in his breathing anymore.

After finishing the Sacrament, I left the house and got in my car. I realized, ‘Oh, no! I didn’t wear a face mask. I touched his body. He may be a carrier of the virus.’ Sulking,  I immediately put hand sanitizer on my hands.

The gospel Matthew 16:15-16 suddenly came to my mind while I was grumbling and washing my hands. I felt a sense of shame, and then I vacantly stared at the sky for awhile.

During my ordination to the priesthood, I prostrated myself before the altar of the Lord. I prayed to God, “I am just a tool in your hands. I do not have any right to refuse the Sacraments what I have been granted as a priest. No matter what, wherever I am asked to administer the Sacraments to your beloved people, I will go there without fear and without condition.”

Even though I witnessed the grace of God pouring out during the administration of the Sacrament, still, I came across as a weak priest who was overly worried about his own safety and comfort.  Since this is an unusual time of pandemic, I hope that I can be forgiven. 

Many people sacrifice their lives for others. Through these, our lives are preserved. Jesus always reminds us of his resurrection through the sacrifices made. The Lord is speaking to us on how we can turn our human weakness into strength.

“In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)

Fr. Kwang-gyu 2

Father Kwang-Kyu blessing the palms during the Palm Sunday celebration.