Love is the answer

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

The Gospel incident for today (Mk. 1:40-45) is very inspiring indeed, by showing us how Christ gave His compassion and love to someone who asked for it, even at the risk of His own life. Instead of staying away from the leper with such a contagious disease, Christ even touched him, out of compassion and love for the leper. Equally significant was the leper’s faith and trust in Jesus. “If you wish, you can make me clean.” This brought about his healing.

Christ’s healing love goes beyond the contagious disease of leprosy. It reaches out to all kinds of human sicknesses, especially to those that I call moral and spiritual leprosy. When one lets go of one’s ego, which is his/her god with a small “g,” and surrenders to the one and only God with a capital “G,” it makes all the difference. Major and minor miracles are the result. And all of these are based on God’s never-ending love for His creation – from every human person to all of living creation. As you contemplate the beauty and the bounty of creation all around you, starting from your own self, you cannot but feel God’s loving presence no less. And this includes the darkness, pains, and tragedies of creation. They are opportunities for the three g’s that I have already described in this column before: no less than opportunities for one’s growth as a person, for one’s greatness as a person, and for one’s Godliness as a person, with no less than Jesus as our role-model for all this. He came to be one among us, precisely to inspire us to love as He did, through those three g’s. And the climax of it all is our own death and resurrection to eternal life, as it was and is with Jesus.

What more can we do to be His living and loving disciples at this day and age? More. Much, much more. Let me just focus on one reality right now. A recent research came out with the conclusion that no less than 82 percent of our global wealth are owned by one percent of the world’s population! What social and economic injustice this is, which includes our beloved Philippines. A more equitable distribution of God’s resources is what the divine law of love and justice demands. Let us not give up our efforts in our lifetime, and pass them on to the next generations. It will take decades and decades, but my faith tells me that we are slowly moving toward God’s law of love and justice. Just recently, a newspaper had as its headline on the front page: Pay Hike For Teachers Pushed. What an important work our teachers are doing, and yet their salaries in most schools are nothing compared to the huge profits of our millionaire and billionaire businessmen and women. Let us actively support all efforts toward social and economic justice. God is with us all the way.

The community starts with the family, which in turn begins with the marital couple. Allow me to single out a particular couple who had been married for no less than 20 years. And because of their individual differences in personality makeup and some moral issues, they often quarreled and were about to separate. They decided to give their marriage a last chance by consulting a professional marital therapist. The process began with a meaningful catharsis for each spouse. The therapist then guided them to practice the skill of mutual empathy. Moreover, the therapist explained to them that it takes two to tango. It takes two to create a problem and it takes two to solve the problem. Each spouse has a contribution to make to the problem. The therapist then guided each spouse to practice empathy both as speaker and as listener. As listener, each spouse was guided to set aside his/her own ego, and instead, place himself/herself in the situation of the spouse, so that he/she could be with him/her, think and feel what the other is thinking and feeling, and not be judgmental while trying to understand the world of the spouse.

Moreover, as they were being guided to experience mutual empathy, each spouse was asked to be aware of God’s presence within each one of them. For this to happen, the therapist asked each one of them to be aware of his/her own breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing out with eyes closed and their bodies relaxed and not moving at all. They were led to become aware that what they were breathing in and out was not just air. No. It was the very breath of life, without which their life would stop and cease to be. And where the breath of life is, there God’s spiritual presence is, for God is the very source and author of life. They were asked to stay there for a while, and then slowly open their eyes without losing their awareness of God’s presence within each one of them. They were asked to do this every night for 10minutes before going to sleep. This habitual awareness of God’s presence was to be within each one of them during the day, wherever they are, and whatever they are doing, separately or together.

The therapist also opened up the issue of their sex life, where the goal was mutual satisfaction. Among many Filipino couples, this is often neglected or taken for granted. But in God’s plan for marriage, this is a very significant issue. No wonder, there are so many cases of male infidelity, and this includes our couple.

They were then led to choose a solution to their problem where each spouse wins a little, and loses a little. Moreover, the solution they came up with was one that they could live with, die for, and face God with. No less than a process of spiritual discernment. The entire counseling process lasted for three months, with one session every week. At the end of it all, they were guided by the therapist to literally be the best of friends (magkabarkada) and the most passionate of lovers. They then experienced what we usually refer to as the authentic love-triangle: husband, wife, and God.

Let me end by emphasizing that there are many other kinds of healing in human relationships that Jesus reaches out to, provided we embrace his love and compassion for us, and surrender to His loving ways. Amen.

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