The Good Filipino?

GOD’S WORD TODAY - Ruben M. Tanseco S.J. - The Philippine Star

Our Gospel reading for today is all about the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:25-37). Do we also have a counterpart in the Good Filipino? Jesus himself narrated the tragic event about a man who was victimized by robbers who not only robbed him but also beat him to the point of his being half-dead and left him on the road. Soon after, a Jewish priest passed by and ignored him. So did a Levite who did the same. It was after a while that a Samaritan traveler came by, was moved with compassion, and did all he could to save the victim. This included taking the victim to a nearby inn, took care of him overnight, then asked the innkeeper to take over while he proceeded to do his own responsibilities. He assured the innkeeper that he would pay him back for everything when he came back. Jesus lived all that and much more to the hilt. He is now missioning us to do the same. To be unconditional lovers!

What a basic question to ask: Did God create some persons good and some persons bad, or at least indifferent? Of course not! What God gives to every person He creates as a sign of the person’s dignity and humanity is his/her freedom of will, willpower, power to love, which is both a privilege as well as a responsibility. The person is free to love or not to love, to avoid sin or commit sin. This is a dignity that is above all other creatures of the universe. It is for this reason that God the Son became man to be one among us. Jesus was and is our role model of what it means to be a human person, loved by God and in response to love God in return and to love all that God loves. This love is experienced as oneness with God, with ourselves, with other human beings, and with the universe.

The spiritual author Albert Nolan has a very inspiring presentation of all this in his book, Jesus Today. Allow me to summarize it in my own way, including my own personal experience.

Oneness with God. “In God we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). God, in human language, is Mystery, as Jesus showed us. And it is this Mystery that is within me and all around me, in all of creation. When I go into silence and solitude, and open my inner self to contemplate this reality, I feel so loved by His presence, and this overwhelms me. Moreover, I begin to feel and experience that His love is unconditional. There is absolutely nothing more that I can ask for. This inspires me to love Him in return, also unconditionally, until my last moment of life, which will be soon, because I am now in my mid-eighties. This brings me to our next point.

Oneness with Ourselves. What an amazing God indeed. Can you imagine how many persons God has created? And the punchline of it all is that everyone is unique. Nobody else in the whole world is exactly like you or me. As Nolan wrote: “Learning to love ourselves means learning to embrace our irreplaceable uniqueness, which includes our particular strengths and weaknesses, our successes and our failures, our insights and our stupidities, our bodies and our souls.” To share what is lovable in us and to let go of what is unlovable – this is all part of our oneness with ourselves.

Oneness with Other Human Beings. Unique as each one of us is, and yet God calls all of us as one universal family. Most of the people in the world – you and I will never see or be acquainted with, but we are all interrelated with one another under the one and the same Creator – God. We are all brothers and sisters in the Lord. In fact, it was before He narrated the story of the Good Samaritan that Jesus accepted the answer of the scholar to the question regarding God’s greatest commandment: ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Lk. 10:27). Neighbor here means one and all, including those who have done you wrong. “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. . .” (Mt. 5:44). Let us reach out especially to the poor, the broken-hearted, and others who need our time, talents, and treasures. Allow me to follow this with the message of our beloved Pope Francis: “Jesus has no house, because his house is the people, it is we who are his dwelling place, his mission is to open God’s doors to all, to be the presence of God’s love.”

Oneness with the Universe. As Jesus did, we are all created to experience and be part of the beauty and bounty of the universe all around us. From the flowers, trees, and mountains; to the fishes, seas, and sharks; to the birds, bees, and butterflies; to everything else that we have not even seen or enjoyed. Moreover, our very lives are sustained by the beautiful sunshine, the cool, dark nights, and many more parts of nature. And just as the presence of our loving God is within each and every human person, His creative and sustaining presence is also in all of nature. God’s will for all of creation is what we call the common good, Quoting Nolan: “I begin to experience my good as identical with the common good when I have started to sideline my ego and to experience my oneness with all others.” (p.188).

Inner Freedom. “Jesus’ way is a path that will lead us to freedom, the radical freedom that enables us to participate in God’s Great Work of Art – freely, spontaneously, creatively, and together. (p.192). The lifestyle of Christ that we decide to follow will lead us to life eternal with our ever-loving God. Amen.

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