God’s family

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

The final message of Jesus in today’s Gospel reading is profoundly meaningful indeed. Let us quote the last paragraph:

“His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, ‘who are my mother and my brothers?’ and looking around at those seated in the circle he said, ‘Here are my mother and brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother’” (Mk. 3:31-35). In other words, you and I, all of us from all over the Philippines and from all over the world come from the one and only Creator-God. For as long as we follow God’s law of love, we remain as God’s universal family.

Jesus showed us the way in his life of word and action. He loved anyone and everyone, including those who turned away from his teachings and actions. In his own words, “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of our heavenly Father, for he makes the sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust” (Mt.5:44-45). He healed so many sick people, the lepers, the blind, and others. Moreover, his heart was filled with compassion for one and all. “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. 9:36-38). But before we go to the sending out of laborers to the harvest, let us continue to contemplate with deep appreciation the love and compassion of Jesus for one and all.  There was the feeding of the five thousand and then the four thousand, people who stayed to listen to his teachings.

One very significant teaching of Christ to all of us was the parable of the Good Samaritan. As the story goes, there was this victim of robbers who was left alone, half-dead. A priest and a Levite passed by, one after the other, who both ignored the wounded man. Until a Samaritan at that passed by, and was moved with compassion and took care of him. He brought the victim to a nearby inn and took care of him (Remember – they were strangers to each other). The following day, he had to leave but left the following instruction to the innkeeper: “Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back” (Lk. 10:29-37).

Jesus violated man-made laws for the sake of love and compassion. For instance, he shared a meal with tax collectors and public sinners. Moreover, on a sabbath day, he cured a woman who had been crippled for eighteen years. Likewise, he allowed a woman who was a public sinner to bathe his feet with her tears, wipe them with her hair, kiss his feet, and anoint them with ointment, as a sign of her repentance. All this scandalized the righteous Jewish leaders. An addition to all this was his meeting with Zaccheus, the tax collector. Jesus even went to Zaccheus’ home, and it was there that Zaccheus went through a spiritual conversion. “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today, salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost” (Lk. 19-1-10).

With all this as a profound inspiration, let us all come back to ourselves, our own times, and our own mission from the Lord. In faith, I am convinced that He is calling all of us, not only in our country, but in the whole world, to reach out to one another as brothers and sisters under the one and only Creator-God who is all-loving.

First, our fellow-Filipinos who belong to different subcultures, speak different languages, in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Millions of them! So many of them are suffering from poverty and lack of education. My prayers never cease, and a change in the whole socio-economic system toward a more equitable distribution of God’s resources is the solution. In God’s own time, my faith tells me that this will happen! But at this point in time, my heart is heavy with pain and filled with compassion for my numerous Filipino brothers and sisters, for we all belong to the same family of God. And what I am able to do is but a drop in the bucket.

Beyond this is the rest of the world. All the millions and billions of people from the different countries whom I will never meet in my lifetime are all parts of God’s family. They are also my brothers and sisters in the Lord, as they are also yours. The entire population of God’s universe is His human family. That is how close and interconnected we all are with one another. Deep in my heart, God’s grace makes me feel a closeness to all of them. A miracle no less. And I invite each one of you to feel the same in case you have not experienced this reality yet. Because of the social and economic injustices all over the world, the great majority of our brothers and sisters are suffering from poverty. And the many effects of this in their daily lives. And yet, the one and only law of God from which other laws follow is LOVE. This is our mission as God’s family.

Let us end with the words of Pope Francis: “We must recover the whole sense of gift, of gratuitousness, of solidarity. Rampant capitalism has taught the logic of profit at all costs, of giving to get, of exploitation without looking at the person . . . and we see the results in the crisis we are experiencing! This Home is a place that teaches charity, a ‘school’ of charity, which instructs me to go encounter every person, not for profit, but for love. The music – let us call it – of this Home is love” (Thought and Words for the Soul, p. 187).

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