Grace for the New Year | Inquirer Business

Grace for the New Year

/ 02:42 AM December 28, 2023

Grace can come unexpectedly. After my column on the demise of Ateneo math professor Jumela Sarmiento and former Bank of the Philippine Island (BPI) asset management CEO Mario Miranda ran last week (“To You Who Mourn at Christmas”), I received a request from a former student. She was struggling with personal issues and needed counsel. She also said, “I virtually met Doc Jume through her SensoEskwela project. I attended the memorial service by the math department. Earlier this morning, I came across your article, which I thought of as a sign for me to talk to you.”

Indeed, it was a sign from Jume. This student is a scholar, a group that Jume particularly cared for. That afternoon, we had a therapy session, which the student found helpful. It gave me comfort—this was what Jume would have done if asked.

A colleague reminded me that Mario had taught the Practitioners’ Seminar for our math finance undergraduates in school year 2008-2009. Mario carved time from overseeing a banking division to share his expertise with our students, and we in Ateneo join BPI and RCBC in remembering his life and work.


Readers of the column, especially those who had lost loved ones, sent messages of condolence and concern. One said, “I easily relate to this. My saddest Christmas was the year after my parents’ death. It was a terrible decision on my part to pretend as if it were an ordinary day. Avoiding the nostalgia of happy memories of Christmas with family was not helpful. You are right—there are ways to celebrate Christmas while also grieving.”


Another reader shared these insights, “I like reading your article. The paragraph explaining Christmas as Christ’s mass denoting the Eucharist is a fresh take on Easter being the ‘bigger or more important season than Christmas.’ The next paragraph is filled with many points to reflect on, “The God of madness loves/loved/will love us into existence even if we are undeserving of His love, not even looking at our unworthiness. This purely unconditional love has no expectations of us except to love Him back.”

“God can handle it. It’s ironic that at times we feel we need to give a list to God on what should happen while asking Him for help. I used to have plans A and B. After years of centering prayer, I am slowly learning to let go and let God. I am learning how to surrender, trust and have the courage to say ‘thy will be done,’ a far cry from Mother Mary’s fiat. I am a work in progress. I stumble and fall. I pick up where I left off and continue my journey back to Him.”

“There is nothing in us and nothing in the world that the Lord’s mad love will not seek, accept, behold and transform. As Father Thomas Keating said, our God is a God of second chances. He will never give up on us. Thank you for an enlightening article. We all need to be reminded of what this Christmas season is all about.”

In December 2014, Pope Francis urged Vatican employees to take care of their spiritual life, family life and relationships with one another. He offered resolutions for the year ahead: “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others. Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord. Be careful of envy, lust, hatred and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people. Watch out for anger that can lead to vengeance, for laziness that leads to existential euthanasia, for pointing the finger at others, which leads to pride, and for complaining continually, which leads to desperation. Take care of brothers and sisters who are weaker—the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers—because we will be judged on this.”

Have a grace-filled new year. INQ

Queena N. Lee-Chua is on the board of directors of Ateneo’s Family Business Center. Get her print book “All in the Family Business” at Lazada or Shopee, or e-book at Amazon, Google Play and Apple iBooks. Contact the author at [email protected].

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TAGS: All in the Family, Business, new year

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