God’s messengers

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

We belong to only one God, who manifests Himself in three Persons. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. This is how much He loves and cares for us. We cannot but experience His presence, provided we are really searching for Him. In every living creature, He is there. From the sun, moon, and stars, to the birds, flowers, trees, animals, in the beauty and bounty of creation, all the way to every human person, climaxed in the person of Jesus Christ, who is God the Son. To prepare for His coming as God the Son, God the Father sent John the Baptist to announce His coming through a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All the people of the Judean countryside and the inhabitants of Jerusalem were being baptized in the Jordan River.  And the climax of it all? “It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth to Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens: ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” (Mk. 1:9-11). Today’s Gospel reading ends Thus: “One mightier than I is coming after me. . . . I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mk. 1:7-8).

God chose to be like one of us and among us, His own creation, from the moment of conception, all throughout His birth, childhood, adulthood, all the way to His profound and never-ending love for all, in word and action, mercy and compassion, His joys and pains, His cross and resurrection. All this He did for us, so that we could likewise do it for one another.

“Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest’” (Mt. 9:35-38).

Since then, as the author Msgr. Arthur Tonne puts it, there have been “millions of messengers, men and women, of all ages, nations, and walks of life, who have announced and prepared the way for Christ’s coming into the hearts of human beings. . . . Since the apostles, countless courageous men and women have traveled the world, often giving their lives, to deliver the all-important message: Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, has come. . . . . That life-giving message must go on, must be delivered to every man, woman, and child in the whole world. Our official missionaries cannot do it alone. You and I must join them. When God declared: ‘I send my messenger,’ He meant you and me as well as John the Baptist. You and I have the all important task of telling others about Christ…. There are dozens of ways to do this. Our everyday life is a message. Our kindness, honesty, faithfulness to our families, our work, our community, our church, are all messages telling everyone that Christ is right here with us” (Five-Minute Homilies, p.60).

Christ, God the Son, could have come down to us already as an adult. Not only that. He could have come as a rich and powerful king, to be feared and obeyed in whatever way he wants. But instead, He was born in a manger, and to a mother who was poor, unknown, and powerless. He grew up as a poor child, like so many others around Him, and not as a prince in a beautiful palace. Why? Because He wanted us to love Him as one of us, and not fear Him as a powerful king. This is God the Son! He wants us to love Him because He loves us, and not to obey Him because we fear Him. So once and for all, let us not picture Him as Christ the King with a golden, jeweled crown and highly expensive robes. Our children and young people of today may lose their love and faith in Christ because of this. In fact, this is the very opposite of the real, historical Christ. Moreover, many of our young people today are victimized by the social media, which is primarily materialistic egotistic, and Godless. Let us do our best in reaching out to them with what is real love and compassion. And most of all, God-oriented.

In this connection, today is Dec. 10, and it is the feast day of Thomas Merton (1915-1968). He was a worldly young man who went through a process of spiritual conversion and became a Trappist monk. Many of us know of his exciting autobiography, The Seven Story Mountain. What is striking is that as a monk, he experienced a solidarity with all mankind. Not only solidarity but a deep sense of compassion and love. For him, the gate of heaven was everywhere. In fact, it was after his talk in an international conference in Bangkok that he was accidentally electrocuted by the faulty wiring of a fan. This was how he passed away.

Let me end by quoting his “Prayer of Abandonment.” “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you, and I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road although I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death, I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

What an inspiring and spiritually meaningful prayer this is. May it also be yours and mine. Thank you, Bro. Thomas Merton. Please pray for each and everyone of us, Amen.

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