Jan 06, 2024 365 Dina Mananquil Delfino, Australia

Missing Piece

It takes courage to start a 1000-piece puzzle and finish it; so is it with life.

Last Christmas, I received a 1000-piece puzzle from my Kris Kringle at work featuring the Twelve Apostles of the famous Great Ocean Road (a spectacular group of rock formations in Southwestern Victoria, Australia).

I was not keen to start. I had done three of them with my daughter a few years ago, so I knew the hard work they entail. However, as I looked at the three completed puzzles hanging at home, in spite of the inertia I was feeling, I felt an inner drive to meditate on “the Twelve Apostles.”

On Shaky Ground

I wondered how the Apostles of Jesus felt when He died on the cross and left them. Early Christian sources, including the Gospels, state that the disciples were devastated, full of disbelief and fear that they went into hiding. They were not at their best at the end of Jesus’ life.

Somehow, this is how I felt as I started the year—fearful, uneasy, sad, broken-hearted, and uncertain. I had not fully recovered from the grief of losing my dad and a close friend. I must admit my faith was standing on shaky ground. It seemed as if my passion and energy for life had been overtaken by lethargy, lukewarmness, and a dark night of the soul, which threatened to (and sometimes succeeded in) overshadowing my joy, energy, and desire to serve the Lord. I could not shake it off despite great efforts.

But if we do not stop at that disappointing episode of the disciples fleeing their Master, we see at the end of the Gospels, these same men, ready to take on the world and even to die for Christ. What changed?

The Gospels record that the disciples were transformed on witnessing the Resurrected Christ. When they went to Bethany to witness His Ascension, spent time with Him, learned from Him, and received His blessings, it had a powerful effect. He did not only give them instruction but a purpose and a promise. They were not only to be messengers but witnesses as well. He promised to accompany them in their mission and gave them a Mighty Helper at that.

This is what I have been praying for lately—an encounter with the Resurrected Jesus once more so that my life will be divinely renovated.

Not Giving Up

As I started the puzzle, trying to put together this scenic marvel of the Twelve Apostles, I recognized that every piece was significant. Every person whom I will encounter in this New Year will contribute to my growth and color my life. They will come in different hues—some strong, others subtle, some in bright pigments, others grey, some in a magical combination of tints, while others dull or fierce, but everyone necessary to complete the picture.

Jigsaw puzzles take time to put together, and so does life. There is much patience to be asked for as we connect with one another. There is gratitude for when the link is done. And when the pieces don’t fit, there is hopefully a trusting encouragement to not give up. Sometimes, we may need to take a rest from it, come back, and try again. The puzzle, like life, is not covered by splashes of bright, happy colors all the time. The blacks, the greys, and the dark shades are needed to create a contrast.

It takes courage to start a puzzle, but more so to finish it. Patience, perseverance, time, commitment, focus, sacrifice, and devotion will be demanded. It is similar to when we start to follow Jesus. Like the Apostles, will we hold on till the very end? Will we be able to meet our Lord face to face and hear Him say: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23), or as Saint Paul says: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)?

This year, you might be asked too: Are you holding that piece of the puzzle that could make someone’s life better? Are you the missing piece?


Dina Mananquil Delfino

Dina Mananquil Delfino works at an Aged Care Residence in Berwick. She is also a Counsellor, Pre-marriage facilitator, event organizer, community and church volunteer, and a regular columnist for the Philippine Times newspaper magazine. She resides with her husband in Pakenham, Victoria.

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