By REV. BERLIN GUERRERO
Ps 8:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
The Psalmist says: What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. (Ps 8:4 and 5).
We have a unique set of beliefs of a very complex Divinity, and very mysterious at that. But it is so wonderful to know that at the heart of the Triune God is a longing for freedom and liberation for all of humankind and all creation! God so loved the world…(John 3:16).
When humankind was brought into being, they were not just any kind of creatures, but beings created in God’s likeness. God wants to share something of the Divinity, something within the Triune God which seeks to be expressed and can only be expressed by bringing into being humankind and the whole creation.
The love within the Triune God is poured upon humankind through the Father’s perfect love for the Son, the perfect love of the Son for the Father and the abiding love of the Spirit – shared to the created being that has become the most imperfect, and most unlovable, of all – us.
When humanity is debased, it is God’s image that is debased. When creation suffers, God suffers. So God entrusts the project of liberation to humankind itself as begun by Jesus the Christ, God’s Son, and through the Holy Spirit which animates and empowers.
Pentecost: The Sending of the Holy Spirit
When Jesus said, “I still have many things to say to you”, it perhaps meant that there are still a lot of things that need to be revealed. And there are two things that can be considered why it wasn’t time for those things to be said or revealed. One is that the listeners are not ready to hear the words or may not be able to bear the implications of the words. The other consideration is that the speaker (Jesus) has in mind, another way of revealing that which ought to be known. I believe the two considerations are at play.
The disciples had shown that they are slow-learners. There are many instances they missed the point Jesus was teaching them. Like you and me, there are things that do not dawn on us instantly and new things will take certain amount of time for us to understand. This is what we are as human beings, we learn slowly. And this is true to our understanding of God and our Christian faith. No one can claim full knowledge of God. We are in constant process of learning, discovering and understanding the world around us and the unseen God who is with us.
There are other things which are intentionally not revealed to us specially when these matters can hurt us or we’re simply not ready yet. We do this sometimes. To protect a loved one, we momentarily keep the truth to ourselves and wait for a proper time before we break our silence.
This time, Jesus chose not to tell the disciples those things that can be made known to them in the future in another way, or another medium. In this case, it is the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Triune God, who will lead them to new revelations.
According to the Text, the Spirit will do many things such as guide believers into all the truth; speak but not on its own; declare what is to come, glorify the Son of God, and take what is Jesus’ and declare it to the disciples (John 16:13 and 14).
The Spirit becomes Jesus’ continuation of further revealing and leading believers into the reality of a loving and liberating God. The Spirit is that member of the Triune God now tasked in revealing God and in guiding the body of believers to understand what God is doing in the world, and animate believers into taking part in God’s work.
What will be of Jesus when the Spirit comes? Jesus said: 14He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. “Mine” connotes “possession”.
In paraphrasing, God will take what is the Son’s and declare it to the believers. As a divine being, what Jesus had in the world was the body of a human being. Jesus’ only possession in this world was his body and those who abide in him (John 15). God takes Jesus’ body and declare it to us. “Declare it to you” means “to formally and firmly turn over a possession or a property to another party or person. When God declares Christ’s body to us, it means that Christ’s body is given to us. Through the Holy Spirit, Christ’s body becomes “our possession”. In receiving Christ we become Christ’s body and we become Christ’s own.
The People of God
As Christ is declared to us by God, it is important to know that we did not only receive Christ body but also inherited Christ’s mission in the world. We become God’s people for the purpose of establishing God’s reign on earth. However, there is opposition. Earthly empires which lord over the nations of the world are keen to keep this oppressive and exploitative arrangement for as long as they can.
For the early church, particularly the church in Rome, Paul assures them that amidst persecution and suffering, the presence of the Spirit gives them a different kind of peace. He enjoins them to boast in their hope of being able to share God’s glory, and also to boast of their suffering believing that suffering produces endurance, character, and hope.
Paul’s words sound sweet and appeasing. Yet, when we look at the context where the believers were found, they were actually living in fear and in danger under Pax Romana (Roman Peace). Pax Romana was pacification through perpetuation of suppression and state violence. Rome was at war with other empires in the quest of subjugation of peoples and nations.
Paul uses the language of peace and war to present an alternative vision of peace made possible through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
In this present age, we are under Pax Americana. Direct and indirect control of weaker countries by US imperialism through wars of aggression using the most advanced war technology and weapons, overt and covert operations, treaty organizations and war coalitions, regime change, and so on. Pax Americana assures US and its allies unhampered extraction of natural resources by multinational corporations for profit at the cost of enslaved peoples and nations and destruction of natural environment. The world is in a continuous state of conflict and violence as a result of the destructive competition between world superpowers.
The Philippine society, as a product of protracted direct Spanish colonial rule and US neocolonial rule, has seen the worst of human suffering and depravation. With sovereignty and freedom taken away, where lies the people’s redemption?
The Filipino people’s hope for a better future is in God’s divine plan for God’s people to carry out Christ’s mission on earth. God’s love is expressed in God’s liberating action in the world carried out by the people of God, empowered by the Spirit.
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).