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God’s heroes

GOD’S WORD TODAY - Ruben M. Tanseco S.J. () - August 24, 2008 - 12:00am

Jesus: “Who do you say that I am?”

Peter: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” (From today’s Gospel reading, Mt. 16: 13-20).

As disciples of Christ who also believe that He is the Son of the living God, each one of us, too, is called to be a Peter, a rock, upon whom the Lord will continue to build His church on earth. By church here we do not mean the building — and the more grand and expensive, the better. No! Neither does it mean an exclusive, religious denomination. Rather, church here means the people of God, from all races, cultures, and religions. The universal, interfaith church of God.

You and I are called to be other Peters — missioned to reach out to others in love, compassion, and justice, so that we can be nothing less than God's own people. God's church on earth. This church starts in the home, and moves out to the community, the nation, the world.

Domestic Church. The church of the home. Jose and Maria (not their real names) have been married for the last 20 years. They are still the best of friends and the most passionate of lovers. Their mutual fidelity and concern for each other's happiness are unquestionable. Like other couples, they go through human pains, misunderstandings, and marital problems every now and then. But through the Marriage Encounter, they have learned to embrace a spirituality of mutual empathy and dialogue, based on their love-triangle that never fails: Jose, Maria, and God. The only love-triangle that does not end in disaster.

They have four children aged 19, 17, 14, and 12 years old. Their loving dedication to each one of them is most inspiring, and although they are both working employees, Jose and Maria spend quality time with them and reach out to their individual, personal needs. A truly domestic church.

Community Church. Here, I cannot but single out once again the admirable, integrated evangelization ministry of Gawad Kalinga for our poor, underprivileged brothers and sisters in the Lord. What a remarkable way of building God's church on earth. In a recent talk at the Ateneo de Manila University, the leading spirit of GK, Tony Meloto, said in part:

“Nation-building is Kingdom-building. We need to make every Filipino a passionate nation-builder. Our country needs more builders, not just more preachers. The Jesus of history that I know, before he became the transcendent Christ to us, was a carpenter and a builder of both a physical and a spiritual kingdom. His disciples followed his example and built the early Christian communities where believers shared their resources with one another and no one was in need. This was the inspiration to start the first Gawad Kalinga village in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City. Building sustainable GK communities is about values as well as economics. It is also about politics. It is our antidote to corruption by promoting servant leadership. Our slogan for leaders is ‘Una sa serbisyo, huli sa benepisyo’ (First to serve, last to benefit).”

Political Church. The historical Christ was deeply involved in political issues. Not partisan politics, but the political issues of social injustice, greed, and immorality. He was a fearless defender of the common good — for God's people, especially the poor and marginalized. Today, in spite of widespread corruption in our country, we continue to have leaders who are known for their moral integrity and dedication to God's people.

One such leader is the Governor of Pampanga, Ed Panlilio. In spite of threats and strong resistance from self-serving forces, he continues to risk his life and be a rock of God's people. May his tribe increase!

Missionary Church. This past August 15, our Filipino Jesuit missionary, Jerome D. Guevarra, was ordained a Priest. He comes from a well-to-do family, and could have pursued a career of professional success, wealth, and power. But instead, he chose to leave all that and volunteered as a missionary to China. He has responded to Christ's call and be a Peter, a rock, upon whom Christ would build His church, God's people, beyond one's own native land.

As we celebrate our National Heroes Day, let us remember that all our heroes are God's heroes, too. To love our country is to love God, for this is God's country. To love our people is to love God, for they are God's people. In our own little ways — be it in our homes, in our workworld, or in our communities, you and I are called to be God's unsung heroes, His rocks, upon whom He will continue to build His church on earth.

BAGONG SILANG CALOOCAN CITY CHURCH COMMUNITY CHURCH GAWAD KALINGA GOD JOSE AND MARIA PEOPLE
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