El Shaddai Amsterdam viert 20 jarig bestaan met stichter Bro. Mike Velarde
In de Vredeskerk in Amsterdam vierde de Nedelrandse afdeling van El Shaddai haar twintig-jarig bestaan in aanwezigheid van stichter brother Mike Velarde, die met zijn familie uit de Filippijnen was overgekomen.
El Shaddai is een katholieke charismatische gemeenschap die in 1984 door Mike Z. Velarde werd gesticht en nu verspreid is over vele landen, zoals Italië (Rome), Spanje (Madrid en Barcelona), België (Brussel) en die tussen de drie en zeven miljoen deelnemers kent. Brother Mike Velarde, een bekende televisie-evangelist in de Filippijnen, werd in Amsterdam vergezeld door zijn echtgenote, kinderen - waarvan er één een parlementslid is -en kleinkinderen. Na de bijeenkomst in Amsterdam reizen zij door naar Hong Kong, waar El Shaddai eveneens een jubileum viert.
Tijdens de drukbezochte gebedsdag die 's morgens om 9.00 uur begon en 's middags besloten werd met een boodschap van "servant leader" Bro. Mike Z. Velarde, wisselden gebeden, getuigenis en momenten van ontmoeting elkaar af, waarbij er speciale aanmdacht was voor kinderen en jongeren met een eigen programma. Om het El Shaddai chapter van Amsterdam te feliciteren waren ook El Shaddai vertegenwoordigers uit andere landen aanwezig.
Hieronder volgt de homilie, die ik bij deze gelegenheid heb gehouden.
Dear brothers and sisters,
It is a joy for me
to be with you again
and celebrate this twentieth anniversary
of El Shaddai-chapter in Amsterdam.
I congratulate brother Mike Velarde
and all of you
on this special occasion.
We are glad that brother Mike is able
to be with us.
This is a special day, a day of joy
because we celebrate this anniversary
and also because this is the very last day
of the liturgical year.
Tomorrow we start fresh again
a new liturgical year
on the first Sunday of Advent.
At peace, since He is there
We celebrate a feast today,
we are grateful to God
for alle He has given to us,
that He was there to comfort us
and give us hope
in times of distress,
that He was there to guide us
and to prevent us
from drifting away from Him,
when we were wavering,
that He was there
to give us joy and peace.
Thank you, o Lord!
Maybe you have experienced real trials,
hardships and sufferings.
The Lord does not take away those crosses,
but He gives us courage,
He helps us to carry them.
A grateful priest
I met last week a grateful priest
who once said to me:
“Never God was so close to me
as during the long period
a suffered from a very serious cancer”.
He felt an inner joy
that he could not explain.
He was very sick at that time
and at the same time happy and in peace.
He enjoyed the loving care of people around him
and the spiritual presence
ot the heavenly Father.
The priest escaped from the illness at that time,
but later it came back again,
again he had to go through all those treatments
and still that is not finished,
but he is at peace,
because he knows, he feels
that Jesus is so near to him,
especially now in this suffering.
I could tell many experiences like this one,
because God does not leave us alone.
We may however have the impression
that He does!
Sometimes future seems dark and without hope
and we feel abandoned
while we cannot understand why God is letting
this or that happen to us.
This evil does not happen to you
because you are a bad person,
It happened and God did not interfere.
We do not always know His reasons.
We just know
that He wants us to be happy at the end
and share eternal life with Him.
Blessed mother Theresa,
who worked for the poorest of the poor
in the slums of Calcutta
suffered for many, many years
from an inner darkness of her soul,
she could not experience the presence of the Lord,
no spiritual joy or consolation, nothing!
This may happen to us as well
when we experience a loss or a grief
or when we feel lonely, abandoned.
An effort to find Him
But the Lord is there,
He did not forget you,
you are the work of His hands,
He created you
and He loves you with an eternal love,
He will not abandon you.
Do not abandon Him!
You just have to find and to meet Him again.
So, if you feel alone and down,
lift up your heart,
call to God in your trouble,
rely on Him,
go out and try to find Him,
sometimes - God willing -
a new experience,
a pilgrimage, a retreat
or something else,
may refresh your faith,
deepen your commitment,
give you new life.
Look forward to that!
Daniel and the powers of evil
Today’s first reading
from the prophet Daniel
tells us about a kingdom
very terrible, causing death and destruction
an making war against people
of honour and faith.
This kingdom is called:
the fourth beast.
We do not know for sure
what kingdom Daniel meant,
but I think we could interpret it
as a symbol for all the evil dominions
in this world,
so many powers even today
that cause destruction and violence,
killing many innocent people,
and so on.
Nowadays we feel
that this evil spirit,
this fourth beast
is there everywhere, trying to destroy
and to bring people to distress.
But all of a sudden,
that first reading turned to the positive:
at the end the power will be given
to the holy people of the Most High,
to those who serve and obey the Lord.
Lift up your hearts
So, that’s the invitation of this reading
from the book of Daniel:
in the midst of terrible things that happen,
lift up your heart and your eyes
and expect the Lord who is coming.
That message is conveyed to us
in today’s gospel as well:
Do not get drowned in the sea of misery,
problems and sufferings
and the anxieties of daily life,
don’t give to much importance
to money, wealth, status
and all those things, that go by,
but be vigilant,
be aware of God’s promises to you.
Surely, He did not promise us
a calm journey, a peaceful and quiet life.
We all know that we have to take up a cross.
Carry it with Jesus!
He told us
that He is our Saviour,
that we are safe
if we just hold His hand
and trust in His mercy and love
and in the intercession of His heavenly Mother.
Yes, let us try
in the midst of everything that happens
to us and to our world
to look forward to Him;
beware that your hearts do not become drowsy,
be vigilant at all times.