Luke 13:10-17

He laid his hands on her…she stood up straight….she glorified God

 

Before giving my insight and reflection about the gospel that we have heard today, let me first throw a question; suppose it is Wednesday and you are in the office and in a hurry to go back in your home.  Suddenly, as you are in haste pacing like a horse, you encounter a man lying on the street helpless and seeking for help, what will you do?  Will you extend a helping hand to the man who is restless despite of the consequence of coming late at home or will you disregard it for the sake of promptness?  I think all of us will choose to extend our hand to the man who is in need despite the consequence of being tardy because we find it easier to formulate reasons to justify our tardiness.  But if we are already on the real and actual situation, do we still be able to easily say “I will help this man” despite the consequence of coming late?  In short, it is easily said than done.

The first reading and the gospel for today are inviting us to a Sabbath, a Sabbath that grants love and concern to our neighbor, a Sabbath that teaches us to love the unlovable, to extend hands to those who are suffering and to those who are in need, and to help the oppressed to glorify God.   The gospel narrates to us Christ’s act of healing the crippled woman on the Sabbath.  Unfortunately, the leader of the synagogue, who knows that any labor is prohibited on the Sabbath, became indignant to Jesus because He violates the Sabbath law.  Jesus flares up and justifies his deed saying “Hypocrites!  Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering?  This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the Sabbath day from this bondage?”  We can take hold of this, we people who at least trying our best to be faithful to Christ’s teachings.  We cannot but observe these things carefully even to its tiniest details.  It is a big “no, no” for us not to observe it regularly and carefully because it shapes our identity as Christ’s followers.  But we ask, does being observant to it help us also to be more charitable to those who are in need?  Are these things also help us to be imitators of God as his beloved children, to love, as Christ loved us, and to share the love that we received to those who are in need of it.

Jesus laid His hand on the woman…the woman stood up straight…the woman glorified God.  This is a radical invitation of Jesus for all of us as we are doing our very best to follow him and imitate him.  As we faithfully His teachings, let them open our eyes and our hearts to the needs of our brothers and sisters and let it become our instruments for extending a hand and love to them.  We cannot deny the fact that we are religious people, but we must never forget that we have also the obligation to help our needy brothers and sisters to let them feel and recognize that God is still reigning in their hearts despite the difficulty of life.

To end this, I would like to share to the simple maxim, fruit of my reflection, and the result of my pondering that may become a simple and humbling message to all of us; “Spirituality without Charity is Hypocrisy, Spirituality with Charity is Benevolence.”

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Loving Ourselves

“We could not love others unless we could love ourselves”.  These words moved me to reflect on the essence of love in my life.  As I reflect, I realized that my whole being and my whole self are summarized in single word, which I consider precious, valuable, and significant in my life – called love.  I don’t know why my heart keeps on beating every time I hear the word.

Love is a mystery, as how I define it because my words are not enough to express it exactly.   But, what struck me most are the challenges that require from me.  Love challenges me how to love the unloved, especially to myself.

Scriptures say that, “you cannot love others if you cannot love yourself.”  For me, loving ourselves is accepting who we are.  How far am I capable of loving myself, the “whole me” and my limitations?  I admit, I am still struggling to love myself and the governing realities in my life.  I do still have some regrets and distorted understandings about some inconvenient truths in the different areas or aspects of my personality. So, in having these discomforts they sometimes hinder me from loving others.

O Lord, help me to see the light of love in my life.  I humbly ask You, O Lord, amidst discomfort in life, help me to accept who I am fully that I may learn also to accept others’ shortcomings, vulnerabilities and limitations.

My “Baseco” Experience

Having an apostolate with the poor in Baseco reminds me of my situation before I enter in the seminary.  I grew up in a poor family where we live in one of the poor areas in Pasay. At childhood, I experienced how to live in a miserable situation struggling for survival every day.  I must say that I did not enjoy my childhood years fully because our place was not convenient playing and not secured. I was exposed on the reality of poverty whereby instead of playing, my brother, my other three siblings, and I, were scavenging metal scraps, aluminum scraps, newspapers, cartons, plastic bottles and papers in order to have something in our pockets for school. We were selling it to the nearest junk shop within the vicinity. My father’s salary from the factory was not enough for us in a month long.  I remember how my mother tries to budget the insufficient income of my father to make good enough for a month.  I witnessed how my mother was diligently budgeting my father’s earnings. I saw from her teary eyes her difficulties.   From some of my experiences that I cited, I could say that our family has really experienced the pangs of poverty.  Moreover, family and I did not lose hope, continued dreaming and trusting the Lord that someday by His help we will surpass the challenge of poverty.

As we continue hoping, dreaming and trusting the Lord, God’s grace and providence will always be showered to us. Somehow, it helps us to reach our hopes and dreams in life. At least by now, our state life has a bit lifted up. God continuously showers His graces and blessings to us. Now that I am journeying toward priestly life and enjoying the providence of God, I have learned a lot in Baseco. It taught me something very significant in my life, especially in my vocation journey, i.e. having the capacity to share selflessly the blessings.

When we speak of sharing, we cannot but associate it with a usual act of sharing, i.e. sharing the surpluses that we have trashed in the corner.  Contrary to what I have learned from the poor of Baseco, this is not the usual act of sharing. It was an extraordinary way of sharing, i.e. sharing my life and time with them.  At first it was challenging to mingle with them.  The place is miserable and their situation is unbearable and unperceivable.  Everytime I expend my time with them I cannot but feel sad for their situation. As I go on with my apostolate, I realized one thing that from listening to their stories I see goodness within them despite the poor situation. From it, I thought of something to them alleviate their situation though it was a challenge. They did not expect me to respond on their need only by listening from their stories.  What they really need is my dedication and availability to listen to them.  I was humbled by this lesson.  More than from expecting for a help and opportunity to improve their lives, as what I discovered, they really need somebody a dedicative listener.

For me, this is a true meaning of sharing. It is really extraordinary and challenging.  I was challenged to talk and listen with them.  They challenged me as a religious and it invited me to be serious about my vocation.  It is a fact and a reality that they are the most deprived materially, socially, psychologically, spiritually, physically and emotionally. But is it right that I will just consider it as a mere fact or reality without doing something for them?  On this reality, I was stimulated, triggered off and encouraged to take my religious life so seriously.  From them I learned that dilly dallying in religious life is a form of injustice against them.  I realized, struggling in religious is worth it because I am not the one who will benefit from the consolation of my struggles but them.  So, religious life is not a waste of time, energy and effort for it has a purpose, i.e. to serve Christ in the poor.

People may see Baseco as a miserable place or a poor place to live with and to do apostolate.  But for me I consider it as an “academe” because I learned the inmost beauty of life and the wisdom of sharing your life and time for others from this very place.