Walking sticks

GOD'S WORD TODAY - Ruben M. Tanseco S.J. -

To be true and prophetic disciples of Christ in today’s power-and-money hungry world, we may think that we need to be as materially and financially equipped as many if not most leaders in government, business, and the professional world. All kinds of expensive equipment, machines, internet, e-mail, cellphone and screenworld communication are a must. More and more virtual reality modes of interaction are taking the place of real human contact. Eye-to-eye, face-to-face, and human touch communication are becoming less and less a priority, contrary to God’s design for humanity and human relationships. The latter are becoming more and more detached and de-humanized.

Today’s Gospel incident (Mt. 6: 7-13) brings us back to what is God’s way of communing with us and of making Himself known to others through the human person. When Christ first sent His apostles to bring God’s word and life to others, we read: “He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick…” (v. 8). To bear witness to Christ in word and deed, your person is what matters most of all. Your love, compassion, forgiveness, faith, simplicity, and wisdom. Then, together with this is your generous sharing of your time, talents, and treasures.

This was how Christ shared Himself with others. He personally cured the sick, like the daughter of Jairus, the woman with a hemorrhage, and many others. He drove out unclean spirits, and brought the dead back to life again. Personally moved with compassion, He miraculously multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed the hungry thousands. In all this was the power of faith, in both the healer and the healed. In God’s own time and way, faith heals.

I cannot help but single out three examples of true and prophetic discipleship of Christ in their own personal, quiet, and unpublicized ways. They are unknown to the general public, so let them remain anonymous.

Here is an ordinary male employee in a big government agency. He is a faithful and loving husband to his wife and father to his three, growing children. Over and above this, he is very diligent at his work in the government agency, and admired for his moral integrity. Quite a number of times, he was offered some “lagay” by persons who wanted their papers facilitated in a hurry, but he has never succumbed to the temptation of accepting their bribes. “Ang mali ay mali, at laging nagmamasid ang mahal na Panginoon, na kasa-kasama ko sa aking trabaho.” This he would say, even as some of his co-workers would tease him as “tanga.” But believe it or not, many others have been inspired over the years to follow his quiet example. Whether he is aware or not, he has been spreading the word and life of Christ in his own person. Being more than having.

Another source of inspiration for our readers is this unmarried female teacher in her forties, who has been teaching fulltime in a public high school for the last 15 years. She is very intelligent and highly-admired year after year by her students, whom she loves with great compassion, as she does her own family. Her classroom is nothing less than a second home to her. There are occasional problems and pains, including her low salary and problem students, but she always manages to go through them in a proactive way. Every now and then, a relative or friend would ask if she has considered applying for a teaching job abroad for a much higher salary plus benefits. She admits that she has, but she would always come up with the same conclusion: ‘If more and more qualified teachers would leave our country to go abroad for higher salaries, what would happen to our youth? They are our hope for tomorrow.” This woman loves here country and her countrymen enough to live and die for them. No less than a prophetic apostle of Christ indeed.

Let us go to a third, sent by the Lord as a twosome, like the original apostles of Christ. They are a loving and faithful couple who have been married for 25 years. They are a constant source of role-modelling for their three children aged 20, 18, and 16. The couple operate a bus company, which they consider as a direct service to the community, especially the poor, who cannot afford to own private vehicles. They have around 30 employees who are well-paid, with generous benefits and bonuses. As a consequence, the monthly profits for this couple and their family are just enough for their own livelihood and their children’s educational needs. They are likewise actively involved in their parish as part of a team that conducts value-formation programs for couples and families. Their three children are part of their parish youth program and are also apostolically active.

The government employee, the school teacher, and the family I have described above are no less than contemporary apostles of Christ in their own simple and quiet ways. And there are many more like them all around the country. So there is indeed hope for the future. Together with the Moral Force Movement, let us join hands in our renewed people power against those who are greedy for power and money without a conscience. Through our own nationwide Passion, the Lord is accompanying us toward our people power Resurrection.

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