“The words I say to you I do not speak as from myself. It is the Father living in me, who is doing this work.” – John 14:10

My daughter and her family went recently for a holiday break. Initially, I was glad as it would give me and my husband much needed time and space to clean and sort the house and embark on the big task of replacing our bedroom floor with wood tiles. However, during quiet moments, I started missing them and my heart ached for their absence, especially for my eight-year-old granddaughter Eva who sleeps with me at night.

On the day they were to come back home in the evening, at about 4 am in the morning, I asked my husband to rush me to the hospital because of chest pains. My worry came from a previous CT scan that showed a suspected blocked artery which might trigger a heart attack. My mom passed away five years ago of cardiac arrest and my brother, then aged 27, died of a stroke.

It seemed to be one of the longest drives to Clayton as the freeway was undergoing roadworks that slowed us down painfully. I prayed that the Lord would go before us, keep us safe and deliver me on time. When I arrived at the Emergency Section, there was no one in queue at the triage and I was attended to urgently. The staff and medical team were kind, efficient and very helpful. Although I was praying for myself, I included them as well. Their passion to care for others, their commitment to service, hard work, dedication, and benevolence are a testimony of God’s goodness who works through them.

I always bring a book with me when I go to hospitals. I am certain it would be a long time waiting. This time, the book written by Monsignor Michael Buckley dated 1986 “His Healing Touch” was my companion. My sister Tes lent it to me days before.

I asked the Lord what was the purpose of my illness—why these chest pains. I did not hear a booming voice, of course, but as I opened the pages of the book, I experienced a mystical lifting up of my soul and a divine revelation of who God the Father really is.

When I was renewed in 2000, started a personal relationship with Jesus, and baptised in the Holy Spirit during a Life in the Seminar at a Catholic Charismatic event, I have been in deep connection with them. My daily life is dedicated and governed by their presence. I do not seem to have any “issue” with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. But somehow, for the God the Father, maybe because I cannot hold on to any image of Him (unlike Jesus and the Holy Spirit, represented in many icons, pictures, and images), God the Father seems a distant God to me. I pray the “Our Father” daily, but it has become such a ritual prayer.

Monsignor Buckley explains that fear is one of the stumbling blocks to our love of God the Father. Yet, it was God the Father who reconciled us to Himself through Christ (2 Cor 5:17-18). That is why healing needs two components—reconciliation and healing. The first makes us new people, the latter frees us from all those elements in our life which hinder us from living the new life of reconciliation in our daily lives of Christian pilgrimage.

Reconciliation gives us a new heart. Healing pumps blood to every part of our body.
It is God the Father who sent His precious Son to us, through such ignominious sacrificial death, because of His desire to reconcile us back to Him. And then He promised that whatever we ask in Jesus’ name, He will give. Jesus and His Father had such a close bond. Jesus always spoke about His loving Father. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are reminded of this truth and we are given the grace to understand, as He is the overflowing love between the Father and the Son. How blessed we are if we believe!

I started to cry profusely. And I remember my shortcomings to the Father – how I had misconceptions of Him as the stern judge, the God “who exacts obedience or else”… the “punishing God” who wants me to be perfect all the time… the God who wants me to work so hard so I can earn heaven… How wrong I was. I asked forgiveness and asked Him to reveal the sins of my heart. He showed me that despite my weaknesses, He loves me, will provide for me, and He is the Father who wants to heal me. As I started to believe in God as a loving Father who wants what is best for me, my prayers took on a new dimension of trust. I surrendered my illness to Him and asked to be reconciled to His love. I felt Him embrace me and tears flooded my soul that when the nurse came in, he thought I was in pain and in distress and wanted to give me another strong medication to ease my chest pains.

At about 2.30pm, one of the heads of the Cardiology Department and his colleague arrived. They explained about the workings of my heart. Due to consistently high blood pressure, it took on a lot of pounding but medications can assist me and for this time, no further procedures are necessary. I was discharged at 3 pm (Divine Mercy), awed by the great healing love of my Father. My greatest healing, however, was being reconciled to Him and the grace to understand how much He loves me.

When I went home from the hospital, after resting for a while, I needed to open my emails. Reby had sent a reminder for my column. I was about to send an apology and a note to Alice that I am retiring from my column because I do not have any story to tell anymore. I have been writing for The Philippine Times for over 20 years and I believe I have shared as much as I could. But the Lord gave me a story… the greatest story of all… God the Father’s love for us all that continues to wait, to call, to miss us. His heart indeed aches and I pray that when He visits you, you will know in your heart that you are indeed precious, fully loved and He desires to heal and make you whole.

(For comments or feedback, email evamarie09@bigpond.com)

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Dina Mananquil-Delfino
Dina was a former editor-in-chief of The Philippine Times and has been its columnist for over 20 years. She has written two books, "Colours of Life" and "Under His Wings".Dina has been in the helping field for 40 years in the various roles she had fulfilled- teacher, employee in different organisations, volunteer, pastoral care worker. She is a member of Australian Counsellors of Australia (ACA) and Counsellors Victoria (CV). She brings into her practice her unique style of helping and understanding, having been exposed to various roles involving different cultures. She can relate to the challenges change brings. In her published book Colours of Life, she shares the angst and joy of being a migrant. As a Pastoral Care worker, she has helped many individuals and families empower themselves and encourage them to achieve order in their otherwise chaotic life. She also facilitates/conducts regular workshops/teachings in personal development.Dina’s strength is in pastoral care, assisting people journey through the difficult moments of serious illness, loss and bereavement, helping newly-arrived migrants, and emotionally embracing the elderly and senior members of the community, moving them to work towards a new vision of settlement, hope and comfort.DINA IS A QUALIFIED COUNSELOR AND PASTORAL CARE WORKER. She can be contacted on 0430 214 917. Email evamarie09@bigpond.com for comments or feedback on this story).

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