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Opinion

Present!

GOD’S WORD TODAY - Jonjee C. Sumpaico - The Philippine Star

One of my favorite quotes comes from the character named Oogway of Kung Fu Panda. The character is seen imparting wisdom to his downtrodden student by telling him: “You are too concerned about what was and what will be. There is a saying: yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present!”

How uncanny that the Gospel scene today of the two demoralized men walking towards Emmaus is very similar to the Kung Fu Panda scene. We find Jesus entering the scene as the two walk in disbelief for what has just happened in Jerusalem. It is a hopeless scenario that Jesus enters into. However, his presence changes the situation, as the gloomy situation is challenged by Jesus’ interpretation of it. He reminds them not to lose faith as he explains to them what was written about the Christ in the Law and the Prophets. He encourages them to remember the experiences they have gone through together before the tragedy in Jerusalem, as he breaks bread with them. Jesus challenges them not to wallow in misery, but rather dig deep and be aware that their hearts have been burning as he becomes PRESENT to them!

In a certain sense, Jesus brings the two sad disciples to the present moment by reminding them of the many things that have affected and shaped their lives. He reminds them to think straight by explaining to them how the happenings of the day make sense in the light of faith. He reminds them to continue to give of themselves despite the difficulty of life, as Jesus stays and eats with them. He reminds them that their hearts are still capable of going beyond the darkness that they feel, as the love of God makes it possible for our hearts to be resilient and carry on.

Jesus reminds us to remember – for to remember is to make present once more. In life, we often fall into the trap of dwelling into the past that is long gone and with the future that is not yet. We take false comfort in these traps that makes us stay in our traumas and lodge in our anxieties. Such behavior may not be of great help to us in our journey of life.

What might be of help is to follow the words that the two men utter to Jesus on the road to Emmaus: “Stay with us.” Putting Jesus at the center of our lives changes the whole situation. It is a grace that we can pray for in everything that we do – even the day to day chores!

It is a grace that I pray for as two school colleagues of mine here at the Ateneo de Cagayan University get married to their fiances this weekend. (Nick and Charmaine; Sam and Junefel). It is a grace that I pray for as I leave my current “tour of duty” for another assignment. It is a grace that I pray for so that we may continue to have a nation and a world that continually holds fast to what Jesus has taught us.

Asking Jesus to stay with us and putting him at center is not so hard to do. We can invite him to live in our hearts and fill our lives with goodness. It is a choice to tell Jesus in prayer, “Can you be with me as I go through this moment in time?”  Let us choose to remember, so that in making present the graces that we have all received, our hearts may continue to have hope and believe that indeed, God is with us.

The late Fr. Nil Guillemette, SJ once wrote that “Jesus is always walking at our side during life’s pilgrimage, even if we are not aware of it.”

Heads up, dear reader. Know where you are in this present time and in this present place. Dig deep and be assured that you are not alone. The Lord is with you.

PRESENT

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