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Opinion

Can you feel God’s love?

GOD’S WORD TODAY - Ari C. Dy, S.J. -

“Harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

This is how the evangelist describes the crowds that Jesus saw, prompting him to call his twelve disciples and send them out on mission. 

Given the events of the past week, it is easy to relate with what Jesus saw in the crowds.  We too are harassed and helpless.  Not only are we forced to survive the rising costs of fuel and electricity, we also have to confront the face of evil.  The kidnapping of Ces Drilon and her production crew is a stark reminder that all is not well in our country, that peace remains an elusive dream in Mindanao. 

In my little corner of the world, the most shocking news was the tragic death of the mother and daughter of Oman Jiao, former Executive Director of the Jesuit Volunteers Philippines (JVP). Mrs. Jiao was seventy years old and Oman’s daughter was only three.  Along with three of their household helpers, they were brutally stabbed by robbers who left them to die by setting the house on fire.  It was the first day of school for the little girl. 

Is the evil we are witnessing indicative of our desperate times?  And how can we have faith in a loving and caring God if there is no end to the darkness that we must endure?

It takes much faith to have comfort in the image of God presented in today’s Scripture readings.  We are reminded precisely of God’s eternal love for us, manifested in the promise God made through Moses that the people will be his “special possession” and become “a holy nation.”  St. Paul reminds us that Christ died for us “while we were still sinners” and therefore reconciled us with God through his death.  This is evidence of divine love for sinful humanity, because humans do not merit such a generous gift.  The gift is given freely.

The words of Scripture can seem abstract and empty, especially in the face of so much adversity.  But the God revealed in the Bible is a God who has never forsaken his people.  God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt and entered into a covenant with them, renewing it even when the people were repeatedly unfaithful. The God revealed on Mt. Sinai loves and cares for his people. 

We did not deserve it, but God was incarnated in Jesus Christ, who shed his blood for us on the cross and created a way for us to be reconciled with God.  This is a God who loves and cares for his people, deciding to share their lot as human beings, even to the point of death.

Jesus, in today’s Gospel, takes pity on his people and does something very concrete.  He summons the twelve disciples and empowers them to heal, to cleanse, and to proclaim the nearness of God’s kingdom.  Jesus needs people who will help him gather the harvest, so he calls disciples who will assist him.  It is a practical way of loving and caring for his people.

What becomes apparent in the Bible is that God’s love and care are never abstract ideas.  The message is carried out in concrete acts — in God’s deliverance of his people in the Old Testament, the gift of his Son, the Son’s gift of his death and resurrection, and the gift of disciples who will share in the mission of the Son. 

Today’s readings therefore invite us to make God’s love tangible.  We are called to do something, no matter how small, so that people are not driven to desperate acts against other people for the sake of economic gain.  We are asked to work so that the Kingdom of justice and peace that Jesus envisioned can become a reality in our country.

We pray for the day when little girls can spend their after-school hours with their grandparents, and not end up dead.

* * *

Fr. Ari Dy has just ended his term as Executive Director of Jesuit Communications.  He is still the Associate Director of the Confucius Institute at the Ateneo, and is presently doing research on Chinese Buddhism as he prepares for graduate studies.  For feedback on this column, email tinigloyola@yahoo.com

ARI DY GOD PEOPLE PLACE
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