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Jonjee C. Sumpaico, S.J.

The Philippine Star, July
31, 2016


I first saw these four
letters during my grade school days at the Ateneo. Most of the 
students would write the
letters, together with a cross, on top of their answer sheets, essays, or 
even some homework
activities. It was an unsaid tradition that was passed on from one 
generation of learners to
the next. Jokingly, some would say that it was their lucky charm to score 
a higher rating. But at the
heart of each learner, the writing of the letters was an offering. 
Everyone knew what it
meant, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam – For the Greater Glory of God! To write 
those letters meant a
certain belongingness to the group. To write those letters meant a certain 
commitment of giving it
your best shot.

Little do we realize that
the AMDG is but a response. It is a grateful response to the reality 
that God loves us first – a
reality that may be difficult to accept.  Sometimes it may be hard to 
understand that we are lovable.
Imagine, with all our quirks and imperfections, God continues to 
whisper to us in so many
ways the words, “I love you very much.”

Some are not able to hear
these words because they have been blocked by trauma or 
hate. Some may be able to
encounter the same words but because of the anxieties of life, these 
whispers are flooded out.
Others, however, pay attention to such moments of assurance that as 
they dwell on these and go
deep in its appreciation, they are able to hear.

“O, that today you would listen
to His voice! Harden not your hearts.”

Upon hearing these assuring
words of love, one may choose to give a deaf ear, a hard 
heart, or maybe a cold
denial. Or, as we become witness to God’s love, we acknowledge it by 
giving thanks. It may be a
small thank you, a silent smile, or even a personal response of gratitude 
of a well meant AMDG. It is
a response that is said in freedom. As God’s love is given to everyone, 
AMDG is a response for
everyone as well. It is a shared gift for those who give witness to the 
loving God in the day to
day journey that we take.

To prepare for the feast of
St. Ignatius of Loyola, which we also celebrate this Sunday, I 
asked a couple of people
what AMDG meant for them. One teacher mentioned that it meant 
being ready to choose to
work and give his best in his craft even if the pay was not as rewarding 
he were in another line of
work. A student pointed out that what it meant for him was looking for 
ways that he can better be
of service to others.

A Muslim student even
explained the similar value of the words of “Allahu Akbar” (God is 
the Greatest) to AMDG. She
said that the true meaning of the Arabic words is not like what is 
presented in media and as
what is shouted by extremists who misuse the words to take the lives 
of others. She mentioned
that it is witnessing to God who is merciful, compassionate and loving – 
that such an expression is
mentioned many times in one’s daily life. I was very much impressed by 
this as there are common
things that Muslims and Christians can agree upon and work together 
with. Instead of looking at
differences, we may even be asked to look into what is common in our 
faiths and move into areas
of dialogue and peace!

Such a sharing reminded me
of scene in the movie, Ignacio de Loyola, when the saint was 
explaining the relevance of
the two wolves (lobos) and the hanging pot (olla) from his family’s 
seal. “It was only when the
two wolves worked together did they finally get their fill. We are a 
Church of opposites: of
passion and humility, action and contemplation. Each has its powers and 
principles, and each has
its dangers. Only when these forces face each other in balance can the 
full grace and bounty of
life be ours.”

May we live our daily lives
gratefully as we seek to understand that God loves us first – 
without any strings
attached. God’s love is not earned, not bought, and even not traded. It is a
freely given. Oftentimes,
we might have to come to the realization that we are just to accept it!

May we be able to respond
with a grateful heart so that in having that felt knowledge that 
we are loved and graced, we
may also be able to love the best way we can. This makes us fully 
alive – for the greater
glory of God!

May the prayer of St.
Ignatius of Loyola always remind us that God’s love and goodness 
suffice. “Take, Lord, and
receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will. 
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; 
do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me.”