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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

DEATH AND DECAY OR LIFE AND FORGIVENESS?






24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

September 11, 2011

N.B. I am posting this in advance as I am not sure I can post anything during my three week travels from place to place in three different countries.

Death and decay, wrath and anger, unforgiveness and vengefulness seem to be the rule of the day in our times. As we commemorate the 10th year of the ignominious mass murder done on the World Trade Center twin towers in New York, we see the undeniable reality of a world enveloped in a culture of death and decay – and more!

We all have stood witness to at least some of it … the unforgiveness, the selfishness, the insatiable greed of people who think not much about the common good. In the Philippines, for example, the reality of people in the know who get away with a whole lot of things (including almost 2,000 containers) that bleed the country dry of potential revenue and concomitant chance for it to join the league of respectable and respected nations all over the world, stares us all in the face, despite the vociferous claims (and, I must add, some level of good example) to integrity and honesty of the current leadership.

The reality is just as Sirach paints it, with words that sink deep into the marrow of our collective consciousness: “Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight.”

We are a sinful people. And the daily news simply reminds us of this common lot of all sons and daughters of Eve and Adam. Despite the passionate pleadings and declarations from St. Paul, that “none of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself,” we know all too well, that it is some kind of a “free for all” out there in a world populated by sinners like you and me, who are out to make a fast buck where opportunity shows itself.

When I hear former students and friends talk about their disappointments with government, with her leaders, with Church leaders and pastors, especially those who wear  miters, I get a gnawing gut-wrenching feeling deep inside … How true … How sad … Yet how even sadder for men and women of little faith to be carried away by the faults and failings of a few, and who take resort to generalizations and lump everybody in one bloody heap, like everyone, as in everyone, is depraved and sinful to the bone.

Some still make much of the so-called Pajeros, and since there were no Pajeros, they make much of one single Montero, and speak endlessly about the corruption and the depravity of the men of the cloth. They make such a lot of shrill noise about stocks owned by bishops, not knowing that as ordinaries of their respective dioceses, they are technically known as “corporation soles” and thus everything is legally titled to the “Roman Catholic bishop” of this or that diocese, and that whatever money some of them do have in stocks are not really their own personal money, but of the people they serve as pastors. But half truths are, of course, always worse than lies.

I feel sad that there are managers and people who lord it over others who are manipulative and greedy, as the gospel passage of today tells us. Death and decay is what they glory in and they make a killing of other people’s ignorance and guileless simplicity. I feel sad that there are men of the cloth who go overboard and act in exactly the same manner as worldly rulers. But I feel even sadder when even those who claim to be catholics and believers, generalize and lump the whole Church together with the failings of a few of us.

Today, though, death and decay, wrath and anger are not what the readings and the entire liturgy glory in. Today’s liturgy, like every liturgical celebration, glories in God, the “Lord who is kind and merciful, slow to  anger and rich in compassion.”

We need to grow a little more in compassion … The level of discourse in almost everything now, is very shrill – from the economy down to politics. There is a whole lot of wrath and anger, now that there is not enough money to go around, now that the job market is shrinking, and opportunities and getting scarce everywhere. 

We need to grow a little more in compassion, now that we bleed each other dry because of so much expectation from one another. Leaders of governments are expected to make miracles and clean up house in a few months – to clean up messes that took more than half a dozen national leaders in the past to create!

We expect too much from one another, and when we do not see results, we deal out death and decay – the very same things we denounce in others. What we were given so generously – compassion from above – is what we cannot give to others who owe us much much less.

I am the first to beat my breast in this. I still nurture hurts and still keep a record of past slights and nurse more than just a little unforgiveness in my heart. It is so hard, like I told you these past three weeks, to forgive someone who has your life miserable, for no apparent reason – at least reasons that you know not of.

Take heart my brothers and sisters. We are in the same boat. The Church is a community of saints and sinners, and last thing I heard is, saints are nothing more than sinners who kept on trying! In the meantime, take your pick: death and decay, or life and forgiveness?

Monday, August 29, 2011

THE POWER OF TWO OR THREE (PLUS ONE)!





23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
September 4, 2011


A lot of neonatal studies (research done on newly born babies) has shown that bonding with a primary caregiver, usually the biological mother, seals the future emotional well-being of the child in many and far-ranging ways. Emotional deficits happen where bonding does not take place at the right time, in the right doses, as it were.

Other studies show just how much more powerful and solid that bonding is when both biological parents are there for the child, physically and psychologically. Two makes for a powerful pair. But everyone knows this is not just a matter of putting one and one together to make two.  It has to do with what goes on between those two, what transpires between those individuals, and what type and depth of bonding ensues between father and mother. Two may make a formidable pair, but love between the two, that is shared with the child is ultimately what seals the child’s future adjustment in life and in society.

At the end, though, it all boils down to love. “Object Relations” psychologists say, pretty much the same thing.  The bonding, the relationship with a significant other, at times represented by an “object representation” all can be reduced to a loving and secure relationship with an “object” who has a certain reliability and “permanence.”

We know all too well how “impermanent” things are in our times. “There is no lasting city here on earth,” as the good book tells us. Relationships now don’t last a lifetime, despite the unending and undying promises made during weddings all over the world. As things are right now, it almost seems like promises are made to be broken, and that unions between two people, eventually end up in aloneness, and, many a time, bitter loneliness, or protracted court battles for custody and subsidy.

I would like to think that, among other things, today’s liturgy would have us meditate, not only on the power of two, (or three), but on the power of three plus one essential element that makes contracts between individuals more than just an agreement, but a commitment.

And that plus factor is not a person, not a thing, not something tangible and measurable, but a virtue – the virtue of charity, love, that more than just “makes the world go round.”

Let me tell you what it does. First, it makes individuals “watchmen” who lovingly tell the truth like it is, for the sake of the erring individuals. Like in the case of Ezekiel, love can make us help others find their way back before tragedy sets in. “You, son of man, I have appointed you watchman for the house of Israel.” This, Ezekiel did, with commitment to God’s people.

Second, it can make us do only good and avoid evil. In our highly monetized economy and culture, we owe a lot of money to individuals and institutions. Everybody is on credit basis to somebody else. Many of my readers are still paying off their houses, their cars, and other things they “possess” sort of. St. Paul has a wise advice for us all: to “owe no one anything except love.” For it is love that, according to Paul, sums up all the other commandments – the reason why we all should try to avoid adultery, killing, coveting others’ goods, etc. Love, he says, is the fulfilling of the law.

But there is one more important thing that love does to us. It makes us go the extra mile and forgive an erring brother or sister. This is akin to Hercules’ “going the distance” in order to fulfill his quest of being a “true hero.”

But quite unlike Hercules, our quest to become true heroes is not done singly, individually, and all by our lonesome selves. Christ Himself shows us the formula. He does not say, where one prays and begs God, it will be done to Him, but what he tells us today, has to do with the power of two (or three), plus one: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

This is the power from above. This is the power of grace. This is what ultimately gives us strength to forgive, to forget, and to overlook the sins and failings of others. This is the same power that makes us responsible (being watchmen) over God’s people. This is the very same power that makes us shun owing anything to anyone, other than love.

In my life, now with more past than future, I have had occasions where people I thought I trusted and cared for, betrayed me and made me suffer. There have been a few individuals who, apparently, would see nothing better than to watch me fail, or be miserable, for reasons best known to themselves. It is hard to accept this reality, and even harder to forgive and overlook the evil they have done, or still do.

I need strength from above. I cannot do it alone. I cannot solve this issue all by my lonesome self. I need reinforcement. I need others. Today is good news for people like me who suffer silently on account of the vileness of other people. This is the power of two (or three) plus one. And that one additional factor is nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else but God’s love. “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst.”

P.S. I may not be able to post my homilies in the next three weeks as I am going for a long trip overseas and am not sure I can have access to a laptop computer, which I hate to be lugging everywhere I go throughout this time.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

LIKE FIRE BURNING IN THE HEART





22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
August 28, 2011


It is not to be passed off as old wives’ tales … or the stuff that we now call “urban legends” … Persecution does happen. Everywhere. Anywhere. But it is, sort of, understandable if it happens in non-Christian territories … or in uncivilized remote places (if the likes still exist in this shrinking world).

But it does happen where supposedly, Christianity has taken root for many hundreds of years. It does happen right where we are, where faith has been part and parcel of tradition for decades, if not, hundreds of years.

We see it right at the tips of our noses … the growing and gnawing anti-Catholicism on the rise, even from those who claim to be catholics, whilst believing only in stuff they want to believe, and tossing out what does'nt jibe with their personal takes on a motley number of issues.

We hear it right from those who claim they graduated from catholic schools. One high profile legislator even had the nerve to insinuate she has a Master’s degree from a theological faculty in Manila.

No … I don’t refer to open hatred with flaring nostrils and all, directed against the Church. Yes … I refer to nothing like the hatred shown by the Roman powers-that-be in the early years of Christianity, where the prevailing rule was simply “delenda est Ecclesia!” … The Church must be destroyed!

But I see it in the ill-concealed brandished swords of defiance and disbelief to what Holy Mother Church stands for and teaches. I see it in a watered-down style of belonging that does not run in parallel lines with their believing.

I see it in the silence that media people resort to, after working with might and main to pin down some Church leaders on supposedly ill-gotten money from a state-run lottery office. When the truth came out, those who vociferously condemned the same leaders uttered nary an apology, hardly any effort to correct the wrong they had done, with hardly any attempt at restoring justice and giving back the bishops’ good name.

Jeremiah had it coming … He dreaded it right from day one. He was afraid, and rightly so. And so today, even if he gives in to remonstrating with the Lord, and complaining that he had been “duped” by Him, he came to his senses and confessed that this was, after all, the right and the courageous thing to do: “But then it becomes like fire in my heart, imprisoned in my bones.”


He went right on to doing what brought him misery – preaching in God’s name, being the prophet that he was called to be!

It was easy for Paul to wiggle his way out of such predicaments. Being a high profile Hellenized Jew at that time, and an educated one at that, Paul had better choices, sort of. He had “better things to do,” come to think of it. He did not have to stick his neck out or step onto the lions’ lair, so to speak. He could have made a comfortable life for himself. He could have shone out as an orator, a philosopher, and a thousand other possibilities.

But Paul decided to “not conform” to his age. He chose to be “transformed by the renewal of mind” and to follow to “the will of God, [and do] what is good and pleasing and perfect.”

I, too, had my own share of persecution. Years ago, I had the unpleasant experience of being threatened with violence against my person, for the simple reason that I tried to empower the people in the communities around me, to put a stiff resistance to the scourge and the menace of drugs. Somebody did not like it a wee bit. Somebody’s pockets were being affected by it. The drug show must go on. And it was being hampered by my leadership.

For a second time in my life, I got scary feelers from the powers-that-be. Priests ought not to meddle with mundane affairs. Priests, so they told me, ought not have anything to do with secular activities, and simply stay where they belong – in the sacristy!

Persecution happens. I was touched when I read how moved the Holy Father had been during the recent World Youth Day activities in Madrid. He should know. He is at the forefront of so much persecution and hatred against the Church that he represents and heads. I cannot tell you enough how touched I am that he was moved by the sight of 1.5 million young people from all over the world, praying together, worshiping together. As one. As family. As brothers and sisters who both believed and belonged.

I have been a priest for almost 30 years now. Sometimes I feel down and out, beaten by the prevailing culture … overwhelmed by so much indifference and downright negative feelings against Catholicism in many places. As a teacher for more than three decades, sometimes I feel we are just pouring water on a duck’s back, with little solace, little consolation, little promise, and very little sign we are able to get our message across.

Persecution does happen… And I thank the good Lord it does happen. For the disciple cannot be greater than his master. Although humanly speaking, words like these give very little consolation, I need to tell and retell these words. For they are the cause and the reason for the “fire that is burning in my heart.” They are the bases of the strength that still pushes us and goads us on to do what, ordinarily, we should have long ago stopped doing: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

Please help me pray that this fire burning in my heart may never be extinguished by discouragement and fear!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

YOU … YES, YOU!





21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
August 21, 2011


“Spokespersons” abound in our days and times. So many claim to speak for others. Politicians love to talk endlessly about the needs of their “constituents,” claiming that they speak for the voiceless and the faceless. So many “cause-oriented” groups claim to speak for the poor, the unjustly treated, the downtrodden, the marginalized, etc. In the Philippines, the invention of “party-list” groupings has almost become a cottage industry, with party-lists multiplying like mushrooms everytime the national elections draw near.

As a Principal of a small school once again, I see this once too often in my job. Someone knocks at my door and minces no words and blurts it right off: “teachers are asking this or that …” … “students are complaining about one thing or another,” and all I can rely on at any given moment is their word that they indeed “speak” for the group they claim to speak for.

But having been there; done that, I know better than to take what they claim at face value. No … citing cold statistics does not necessarily impress me … but neither do blanket statements that start out by words like, “they say” … “people say” … etc.

Today, the good Lord is not impressed by statistics either. Generalizations simply won’t do as far as he is concerned. Obviously, he does not set out to know what is the trend of public opinion, or what the Social Weather Station (or the Gallup Poll, as the case may be), says about him.

Mind you, his question is not a “what!” He did not want to know “what” people thought of him. He did not want to find out the “what” about public opinion in his regard. His question is a “who!” His question is as personal as it can get. “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

Impersonal questions are easy to answer, come to think of it! Such questions do not demand any personal investment from whoever proffers an answer. All one needs is to start out saying “they say …” “people tell me …” or just like the glib answer of the disciples, who did not need to do any scientific survey to give a ready response to: “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”

Hmmm … could there be a more non-committal answer than that? Could there be a more easy reply to a very easy question than this? One does not need to do a Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot to come up with such a glib, but actually, useless answer.

This is the sort of fare we are exposed to every day. Investigation upon investigation depend almost solely on personal testimonies, not documentary evidences. The so-called “trial by publicity” has become common place in our very litigious society – and all it takes to destroy a person’s name forever is the equivalent of the statement that begins with “they say …” “people say …” “I heard …”

The case of the Pajero bishops, deridingly referred to as the “Pajero 7” is one clear example. There was not a single Pajero involved, but the damage has been done. More than half the Filipino people believed what some irresponsible media practitioner invented.

Today, the Lord waxes personal. He won’t settle for second-hand information. He won’t have any “hand-me-down” piece of trivia that won’t make demands on the person who gives an answer. He takes the disciples to task. He wants them to be fully responsible (response-able) for what the question really asks for.

And what, at bottom, does it really ask of us, his disciples now?

We don’t need to do a whistle-blowing stunt, like it is the fad in our country nowadays. We don’t need to be a spokesperson for any grouping, or to be an apologist for any one. We don’t need to do a Gallup poll or an SWS survey to assert something that really ought to spring from deep inside everyone’s heart.

The question does not ask for a “what.” The question probes the heart and tests the soul … “Who?” The question, furthermore, is not one that seeks what “others” say, or what the public opinion is all about. The question goes direct for the jugular of the interlocutor …

Yes, it all about “you” and “me.” Yes … you! Yes … me, too!

We’ve had enough of surveys. We’ve had more than our fair share of what they bandy about on a daily basis, like the “fact” that the majority of us Filipinos are really in favor the Reproductive Health bill; that the majority are for this or for that. They all point to “they.” They all cater to what “others” say.

Let’s see the picture for what it really is. Faith is not about majority opinion. Belief in God, and a personal love for Him are not decided on by surveys and numbers. Commitment to God and dedication to what is right is an eminently personal task. And today, the Lord takes us to task and asks us: “You … Yes, you … who do you say that I am?”

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

IN AND OUT!


20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
August 14, 2011

Somewhat irreverently, and embarrassingly, I might add, the image that comes to me as I prepare for this Sunday’s liturgy is the burger joint famous in California called “IN & OUT.” It markets itself as the quintessential “all-american burger,” with milk shakes and all, and everything else that more health-conscious individuals properly would not consider “kosher.” I must say that it is good … to the last bite, as they say … and what a bite one makes as one sinks his or her teeth willingly in the sandwich that has become a by-word all over the world!

In and out … The readings talk about being “in” – that is, belonging. It talks about the inclusivity of salvation as given by God. But they also talk about being “out” – being outside the original fold for which the Lord’s message and gift of salvation was originally intended. They talk about being both “in” and “out”  … “all who keep the Sabbath free from profanation, and hold to my covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer.” (1st reading).

We are both “in” and “out” right now. We are called to the same salvation. We are all entitled to join the believers as, indeed, we prayed right after the first reading: “O God, let all the nations praise you!” We believe. We belong. In the one Church. To the one Church of God founded by Christ.

But both have gradations and levels. We just don’t believe, period. We believe more or less, many a time. Just look at the number of those who claim to be “catholics” but who believe in not quite the same things as the Church officially teaches. Just look at us, still struggling to know all there is to know about our faith. Just look at one high-profile Filipino politician and lawmaker,  who, armed with an MA from a supposedly Catholic institution, speaks like as if Gustavo Gutierrez was the best thing that happened to post-Vatican II theology! Just look at him, who claims to be an artist, but whose best work so far, that he would like to pass off as “art,” is really nothing but a masked attack against those who believe truly and also belong!

There is more than just irreverence here … and definitely more than being tasteless and tactless … in images of Christ peppered with phallic images and condoms as to make buffoonery out of something sacrosanct and held dear by those who truly believe, whilst trying hard to really belong!

Even Christ was limited by boundaries. As a Jew and as a man, he did the unthinkable. He went out of his regular boundaries and wended his way to pagan territory. He it was, not the pagan woman, who crossed bounds. He it was, who sought out the “territory of Tyre and Sidon.” For this is what God is like, apparently, as we can glean from the behavior of the Lord. Though limited by boundaries, God is never bound by limits. He is never bound by culture, for one thing. He is not bound and enslaved by tradition. He goes out of his way, very literally. He allows himself to be talked to and addressed by a Canaanite woman – a pagan, and worst of all, a woman, talking to a Jew, a man, and, by any standard, a respectable Jewish man!

Let me tell you why, for all its seeming irreverence, I think of “In and Out” today. No … I don’t think hamburger. I really don’t salivate at the thought of it. It is not my kind of lunch or dinner, assuredly! Whilst I do get a bite of it each time I find myself in sunny California, I do it once, and forget about it for the rest of my time there … until providence once more leads me to where the likes are daily fare for the hoi polloi.

Let me tell you why then … I am “in” to be sure. I believe. I belong. But there are times when I feel “out.” When I suffer unjustly at the hands of men and women who ought to represent the compassionate love of God, the Father, and the fellowship with the Son and the Holy Spirit, I feel more than just odd. I feel myself “out.” When I see how cruel gossip and conjecture are liberally thrown here and there by otherwise respectable and believing people, I feel I simply want “out.”

When that clerical machinery called “envy” rears its ugly head and that monster called “ambition” both on my part and on the part of otherwise holy men and women religious and diocesan clergy surfaces, and politics, instead of participation, takes place in the Church that I love, I wish I were “out.”

When I sin, and do grievous things before the Lord, I know it better than anyone else … I am out. Or merely skimming on the surface … or staying on the fringes of the community that offers all salvation and respite.

Yes, I am “in and out.” Yes, you, too … we are all in it together … both in and out, at one time or another. See what envy could lead even well-meaning people to? Not even the disciples were spared. They had a sort of “scarcity mentality” and remonstrated with the Lord for helping out the distressed woman. “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”

But Christ wants us all in. God wants to spell Church with an I, n, c, l, u, s, i, v, and e.! Community … Church … God’s family is inclusive. Thought there are boundaries and limitations, God is not bound by limits at all. When He calls; when he loves; when He invites, He goes literally out of bounds, and crosses over to where the one who is totally out and out can be reached. St. Paul puts it so nicely: “For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.”

I am the first among those who feel “out” more than just occasionally. “The just man sins seven times a day.” I am the first among those who want “in” though. Praying hard. Begging God dearly for more understanding and compassion …  For more than just seven times daily, I am really both “in and out.”

I pray for the same compassion that He showed the Canaanite woman … and even as I often stand inside looking out, and wishing, for all the world, to be brought from the outside in, I long to hear one day from the Lord: “Great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish!”

Thursday, August 4, 2011

GOD’S PRESENCE DESPITE THE SILENCE!



19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

August 7, 2011



Today is a day very close to my heart. The readings refer to “strong winds,” “crushing rocks,” “earthquake,” “fire,” “cave” and “darkness.” And all this comes only from the first reading. From St. Paul, we hear words like “sorrow” and “anguish,” being “accursed” and being “cut-off.”


The Gospel has more. After the impromptu catering service, courtesy of the good Lord, out on the grassy meadows, when they went to a far away place, out to sea, they were tossed by waves … in the darkness, mind you.


Rightly then, does the Gospel refer to the disciples as “terrified.”


Terror … the dark … sorrow and anguish bring out the best – and the worst – in us.


For one, they make us complain. They make us angry. The Israelites are notorious for this. Out of Egypt, delivered from slavery, in no time, they found the gall to complain to the Lord for allowing Moses to get them out. They complained about most everything … food, accommodations, leadership. They were just about ready to throw anything and everything at Moses, including the proverbial kitchen sink!


They also make us hide our heads in the sand, sort of. Well … not quite. Elijah just hid his face in his cloak. Terrified by the heavy wind, the earthquake, and the fire, he refused to look at what was coming next.


I, too, must confess to my readers that I love to hide in times of adversity. Being an introvert to start with, I hide from people unknown to me. I run away from crowds as far as is possible. I shy away from potential pain. I shun individuals who make me suffer. I refuse to have anything to do with people who make life miserable for me in many little and big ways. As Principal of a small school right now, I would do anything so as not to engage intractable parents who tell us what to do, and how to run a school, and how to educate their kids. And they, of course, sound like they are always right! Or at least they think they are!


Elijah is not alone in this. We are all in it together. You and I and Paul, and Elijah, and the Lord himself! We pass through caves, and tunnels, and dark alleys, and we experience torrential rains that won’t go away … We pass through terrifying moments of collective pain, as when earthquakes create not just death and destruction on a massive scale, but worse so, tsunamis that flatten entire cities and wipe away tens of thousands of lives, all in a few terror-filled hours! We pass through sorrow and anguish, “sweat and care and cumber; sorrows passing number …”




Everyone of us can relate to Elijah.


We want the certainty of noise and news. We want to feel alive kept abreast by a never-ending flow of events that we seek to know in real time, care of Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. Com. Cable TV is, for the most part, “on” all our waking and even sleeping hours. The internet keeps us “wired” (wirelessly, of course) 24/7. We feel better with it humming to life all the time. We feel lost in silence. We feel confused by lack of activity and we feel dead without the usual buzz and whirr of everything electronic.


You would think that those who were fed the loaves last Sunday would have learned that single most precious lesson – that the Lord feeds those whose eyes look up to Him. But no!


In fact, not even the disciples learned it that fast. When they began to be tossed about by the winds, they were terrified. Like Elijah, they lost sight of what was coming. Instead of seeing the Lord walking on the water, they saw a “ghost.” Instead of Elijah seeing a manifestation of the Lord, he hid his head in his cloak and simply refused to see. There’s the case, too, elsewhere in the gospels, of Mary Magdalene, who could not recognize the risen Lord, on account of her tears.


I see Good News cropping up here. I see hope rising behind the sorrow and anguish of Paul. I see God’s presence behind – and despite – the silence of the very God we want to see, feel, and touch!


And this, my friends, is the good news for today. Our plea “Lord, let us see your kindness and grant us your salvation,” does not go unheeded. God is coming. God is already here. With us. For us. In spite of us! He is with us in our pain. He is alongside us in moments of darkness, as we navigate through the labyrinthine ways of life that sometimes gives us more than our fair share of darkness, fires, earthquakes, and strong typhoons and hurricanes!


I cry as I write. A crybaby ever since I was, well … a baby, I cry for so many things. I cry for a corrupt ridden government in my country, then – and now! I cry for Holy Mother Church, battered and barraged by the waves of organized bashing, principally from mainstream media, which love to use double standards. I cry for the ghosts of my past sins and grievous mistakes in life. I cry for the ghosts of so many people who lost their lives unnecessarily and who still pine for justice. I cry, too, for God seems to be absent and silent in all this. Whilst we thrash about in pain and helplessness as the wanton destruction of the earth that is our only home goes unabated, God plays possum, and hides, sort of, in the majesty of His dwelling up in the Heavens!


But no. As my tears subside … as my anger wears off … as my disappointment settles down, I see glimmers of hope around me. I see it in Elijah, who, though terrified, remained in front of the cave, to see God in the silence. I see it in Paul, who, despite the anguish, found it in his heart to praise “the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever.” I see it in the terrified disciples who listened and believed in the reassuring words of the Lord: “Courage! It is I.”


I see it in the thousands (and millions!) all over the country and the world, who, despite everything, still find it in their heart to come to quiet, come to attention, and see God in the silence of the Roman Catholic liturgy at Mass, Sunday in and Sunday out!


God’s presence is here. In our midst. Behind the silence … despite His silence. All we need to do is come to quiet ourselves. Stay. Still. Though stung to the quick by pain and sorrow, we come to stillness and declare: “I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for His word.”