Lord, I never wanted to be separated from You.

Far Greater Love

"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends."
John 15:13

It's a cold winter dawn here in Rome. By the way, Happy Valentines Day to everyone! As I reflect on love, the concrete expression of our brother Richie Fernando (1970-1996) came to my mind. He died in 1996 at the age of 26. He gave up his life as a missionary in Cambodia, protecting his students from a grenade blast. I also learned from his biography that we both originated from the Province of Bulacan and this inspired me more. Even before I entered religious life, he has been an "idol", a spiritual "big brother" so to speak. My mother got worried that I might imitate his  martydom because of my admiration. My professor in Theology once told us that "when the time comes when we are called to martyrdom, God will give us the grace to endure".

Ten months before "big brother" Richie passed away, he wrote this on his diary (dated January 3, 1996):

"I wish, when I die, people remember not how great, powerful, or talented I was, but that I served and spoke for the truth, I gave witness to what is right, I was sincere in all my works and actions, in other words, I loved and I followed Christ."

On October 17, 1996, Richie Fernando was trying to restrain a troubled student at the Technical School for the Handicapped in Banteay Prieb run by the Jesuit Service Cambodia. In trying to save the lives of others, Richie gave up his own. 

Furthermore, here's another entry from his diary:

"I know where my heart is, it is with Jesus Christ, who gave His all for the poor, the sick, the orphan... I am confident that God never forgets His people: our disabled brothers and sisters. And I am glad that God has been using me to make sure that our brothers and sisters know this fact."

How inspiring! God sends his servants to the less fortunate for them to feel God's love. How can we give love if we ourselves are not in love with GOD Who is Love Himself? Richie must had been in love to extend such service to Cambodia.  

The song "Far Greater Love" is dedicated to Richie. It translates his martyrdom into an inspiring music. The lyrics was beautifully written by Johnny Go, SJ. The line "The storms of life may shake our ground" is a direct referral to Richie's martyrdom. The music by Manoling Francisco, SJ is powerful and brings hope. Here the lyrics:

Who would have known this would be a history so torn with wars?
The sky seems grayer in our hearts.
It’s grayer in our hearts.
I could have sworn it would end in misery,
But the world is turning still,
And we’re also learning, somewhere
Hidden out there, something’s greater than our hearts

The storms of life may shake our ground,
A greater peace still dwells in our hearts.
The dreams we build may fall apart,
A deeper hope still runs in our hearts.
Fear no harm, we are ruled by a far greater love,
A far greater love

Who would have known life would be such a mystery?
For the world is yearning still and our hearts keep burning.
We dare to believe there’s something greater than our hearts (REFRAIN)

We’re never alone.
All else may go wrong,
Still will there be a love far greater than our hearts


Let me close this post with  a documentary on the life and ministry of our brother Richie that I found in youtube. 

Happy Valentines, Bro. Richie.

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