Balik-Tanaw | The blessed ones

Progressives distribute relief packs to survivors of Typhoon Ulysses in Kasiglahan Village, Rodriguez, Rizal, Nov. 21. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / Bulatlat)


Christ the King/ Reign of Christ

Ps 23:1-3,5-6

Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17

1Corinthians 15:20-26, 28

We are humanized when we feel the pain and grief of others – of those known and even unknown to us. We intimately know the essence of humanity’s interconnection like an umbilical cord that bond us to one another. In fact, this is where the slang “utol” came from. It came from the word “kaputol”, which means we came from the same umbilical cord. This connection is especially true when our own senses, body and spirit feel the agony of our own people, particularly those who suffer from oppression, cruelty and exploitation. Our failure to grieve miseries, hunger and abuse is a warning signal – we can be betraying our own humanity.

Matthew 25:31-46

A mother whose son was killed by the drug war told us, “The pain and grief will stay in our hearts. No one can take that away from us. That is why I seek justice and join other mothers in seeking for justice.” I recognize that they are not nurturing bitterness nor hate. I even acknowledge and admire how they rise up from sorrow. They sympathize and identify with other mothers, kin and kith of the victims. This explains how they became one other’s source of empowerment, and why they accompany others in filing cases, visiting and praying for the bereaved families, why they volunteer in relief work and assist others their kapwa’s needs. They also participate in public actions demanding for justice and condemning the abuses of the powers-that-be. They gather to demand accountability from the government for the spate of killings, from the bloody drug war to the killings of activists and human rights defenders.

Meanwhile, our nation is being rocked by disasters and our people is being attacked by tyrannical-misogynist leadership. We can only appeal to God to declare a furlough or moratorium on cyclones or earthquake. But then, disaster is not an invention of God. Disaster is not just about calamities. It is about vulnerabilities brought by the tandem of unequal distribution of resources, bad governance, and environmental destructive plunder. The poor are always the hardest hit by abandonment and negligence. And in the midst of this perturbing situation, we have a system that weaponizes the law to punish people who are pursuing the cause of human rights, democracy and good governance. This is tyranny.

Amid this miserable situation, we are still a nation not running out with GREAT PEOPLE. We are blessed with young people who subvert the belief of “history repeats itself”. They are today’s youth who learn from history and vow to never repeat the mistake of the past. We are blessed with people’s lawyers, doctors, health workers, teachers, scientists, artists, journalists, community organizers and professionals who render their intellect and skills to the poor and the masses. They are the brightest and best in their respective fields who give their best without expecting rewards but the hope for the emancipation of the people. We are blessed for having farmers, workers and indigenous people who keep on showing us the meaning of struggle for life’s dignity. They never stopped feeding and tending us, while struggling for land, just wages and protection of ancestral domain. We are blessed for having these GREAT PEOPLE as human rights defenders and front liners in defending democracy and people’s rights. Their service to the people is invaluable. They make it sure that no one would be left behind in this life journey of humankind. They struggle and fight for justice so that no one will go to bed hungry and naked; that every family has a strong roof to withstand the storm and the tempest, that every child and youth will have education; that basic health needs are available and accessible; that everyone will have equal opportunity and access to legal system; and that the poor will never again be victims of corruption and unjust system. They work hard to fulfill the possible dream. They are sometimes called activists, human rights defenders, advocates, change makers, dreamers. However, under Anti-Terrorism Act, they can be called terrorists or be victims of red-tagging.

All of them who are engaged in this meaningful endeavor and worthy undertaking must have their own grief and pain. They must have cried a lot whenever the poor are crushed. They would not have the power to keep on struggling if they have not grieved at all. They do not assume to be heroes. They simply think and do what is sensible, rationale and moral without much explanation and elaboration why they opted this kind of service to the people. They love, and the love abundantly. Some of the GREAT PEOPLE are victims of extrajudicial killings. Some were illegally arrested, tortured and are languishing in jails for trumped up charges, while others are harassed, red-tagged, or abducted and forcibly disappeared. At this moment, I invite you to pause and think of them.

On the final day, the judgment day, or the time when the joyous Kingdom of God has come and the dreams of the great people are dawning, what we have done will be “summed-up”. The great people would ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

He will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

We would know, or we know already, that the great people did not do what they needed to do to please the King, but to serve the people. After all the “King” does not need to fed, clothed, hosted , visited in the prison and or be sheltered. It is the POOR, the NEGLECTED, the OPRESSED who need them and, certainly, God is on their side. The GREAT PEOPLE, THE BLESSED ONES are rewarded because they have eyes and hearts for those who were made invisible, unnamed, unrecorded , marginalized and victimized by unjust system. They did not seek the “King” but served those who were very much near to God’s heart. BLESSED are they! (

Balik-Tanaw is a group blog of Promotion of Church People’s Response. The Lectionary Gospel reflection is an invitation for meditation, contemplation, and action. As we nurture our faith by committing ourselves to journey with the people, we also wish to nourish the perspective coming from the point of view of hope and struggle of the people. It is our constant longing that even as crisis intensifies, the faithful will continue to strengthen their commitment to love God and our neighbor by being one with the people in their dreams and aspirations. The Title of the Lectionary Reflection would be Balik –Tanaw , isang PAGNINILAY . It is about looking back (balik) or revisiting the narratives and stories from the Biblical text and seeing ,reading, and reflecting on these with the current context (tanaw).

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