On Jesus’ side

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

On this last day of September when the Philippines continues to remember the experience of how it was under Martial Law, I remember a story of fellow Christian Life Community member Ka Lope Santos. It was a story being recounted by a person who was then nearing his 90s to another who was but 19. 

The story is about his friend who was then a member of the Philippine Constabulary. In the heat of the rallies during that time, the mission that was given to the unit that he commanded was to hold the perimeter as the rallyists passed by. The commander noticed that in the crowd was an old man who was so tired. He took the person aside and gave him some food and water to be able to regain his strength and carry on after a bit of rest.

Another policeman saw what he did and said, “Sir, kalaban natin yan. Bakit mo tinutulungan? (Sir, he is our enemy. Why are you helping him?)” The commander replied, “Sinasabi ng pananampalataya natin na painumin ang mga nauuhaw at pakainin ang mga nagugutom. (Our faith tells us to let the thirsty drink and to feed the hungry.)”

This image has stuck with me and I remember it this time of the year when we recall the dark days of Martial Law. It is more enhanced as this Sunday’s readings point out the values shared by all: solidarity, inclusiveness, and compassion.

“Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow his spirit on them all!”

The first reading talks about Moses’ yearning that the people of God proclaim the truth and live the truth. He points this out as his aide, Joshua, reported that there were two people prophesying in the camp who were not part of those officially recognized. It echoes the Gospel reading when Jesus tells his disciples: “There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us.”

Humanity expresses its joy as God’s precepts gladden our hearts. It inspires our souls to be able to share the goodness that we encounter in life. As we are part of a community that is much blessed, we are asked to look at these blessings as we focus our gaze on God. We are challenged to share these blessings with others as well.

Consider being all to all. At this time when political, social and economic forces make people choose sides, we are challenged even more to test the attitudes that we carry, the sentiments that we feel and the actions that we take when we partake of God’s Spirit in our lives. We run into the temptation of branding people either as an insider or an outsider – those who are with us and those who are against us.

Ka Lope’s story on Martial Law was a bit different as it did not have two opposing sides. It only celebrated one side – Jesus’ side!  May we all consider to be one in this as we seek the lost, the least and the last – and be able to do something about it in our own special way.

But a word of caution to those who choose this path. It might not be popular. It might even ask one to give up control over the things of life. It might even ask a person to raise up one’s light amidst the darkness that blankets.

Being on Jesus’ side, however, gives one deep joy and authentic freedom. Where shall we go, O, Lord? You have the words of eternal life! Come to Jesus and live!

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