By GERALDINO B. LOYOLA, JR.
Ps 33:1, 12, 18-19, 20-22
Heb 11:1-2, 8-19
Our readings today directly speak about our most common experience, that we are oftentimes caught unprepared. And because we are not ready, we always find ourselves in the constant predicament of being left in the situation of misery, grappling with the difficulties of life and having to face unsurmountable odds. However, it is in such precarious situations (the least that we expect) that the saving actions of God are revealed and clearly become visible. Also, it greatly highlights the trustworthiness of God and the tremendous quality of faith of those who believe in the divine power. In other words, nothing is impossible with God.
The first reading from the book of Wisdom Chapter 18, tells us the hopelessness of Israelites freeing themselves from oppression. Yet God made the impossible possible, by enacting the Passover, the tenth plague, which is the death of the first born. By this event, the Israelites were finally released from their bondage. Egypt, a nation so strong was laid weak in the face of the helpless slaves, the Israelites, who were saved by God.
Psalm 33 recounts the mighty deeds of God. It says that God delivers the Israelites from death. Again, such act is done during a hopeless situation, where there is a severe famine. At other times, the Lord becomes a help and shield to the vulnerable. This is a clear indication that God intervenes in defense of the weak and against the war of aggression.
In his letter to the Hebrew, St. Paul also narrates the impossible. This is hard to believe because God had put a child inside Sarah’s barren womb. And then in his old age, Abraham had become the father of all nations. All these things point to the supreme power of God which is shown in the most desperate circumstances. Such is also an incredible display of faith by Abraham.
When God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, he immediately complied without question nor hesitation. This is an incident that greatly inform and taught us about the nature of faith in God. Faith is something that goes far beyond the bounds of reason. Where reason ends, faith begins. The amazing thing is, we always receive more than what we expect.
God is an abundant giver. Surprises are indeed good, but when we are confronted by the thing that we did not expect, we are frightened because we are caught unprepared. Thus, the central theme of all the readings today is the value of preparedness. Are we ready to claim and accept what we did not anticipate? In other words, are we willing to relinquish all our concerns and put our faith in God?
In the Gospel of Luke 12:39-40, the importance of being vigilant is especially highlighted. Such as the reality of the thief, judgment day and death are certain. We just don’t know when they will happen. But when they come, we must be prepared. Many times, God and his/her offer of salvation comes to us, but we just ignore it because we are not ready and prepared for it, and to make the situation worse, our focus is on something else.
We are ready for everything, especially business opportunities, to earn money, to save money, to increase money, to steal money from the poor, except we are not ready for God. What are we accumulating money for?
Contrary to preparing by hoarding, God is telling us to prepare for the opposite, by selling what we have and give the money to the needy (Luke 12:33). And, in the Acts which Luke also authored, he changes the treatment of ownership and property. He changes the relation in terms of good from selfish or private property to sharing or common ownership of resources (Acts 2:44-46; 4:32-37).
But, the greatest preparation of them all is this, are we ready to accept and claim the comprehensive notion of salvation (economic, political, cultural, spiritual and environmental) that only comes from God? Are we ready to follow the way, the truth and the life who is Jesus Christ? We know we will die sometime, but we do not know exactly when. Did we address the things that truly matters, like love, forgiveness and reconciliation before we die?
If we never had some kind of preparation in our lives, now here’s an urgent advice to start preparing. Pray always, morning and afternoon. In my long years of existence in this world, I find it best to sleep early and wake up early. The purpose of which is to pray, to access the tremendous and unlimited power and energy only known to the wise of all ages. Whether you believe in personal God (the Western appreciation of Wisdom), or you believe in the Supreme Being (the Eastern culture of life in the Spirit).
Within this secular age (age of science), religion no longer holds influence on many aspects of our lives, yet post-modernism cannot simply do away with what is meaningful for humans. Healthy, normal and successful people still value noble thoughts and continue to dream about higher form or existence (not merely working, eating and sleeping). We are destined for greatness, and that is, to be the best human beings that we can possibly be.
We must pray with somebody, early in the morning, soon as we wake up, perhaps with our wife or husband, or with children or a friend. Do not pray alone because that can easily lead to a trap, such as self-seeking and worst to selfishness. Pray for those who cannot pray, especially for the poor. That they maybe given wisdom and moral strength by the Holy Spirit to seriously put their problems and worries in front of God. For with God, nothing is impossible.
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).