10th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
June 9, 2013


We are back to good, old ordinary time, the longest “time” of the liturgical year. But it is anything but ordinary. In these so-called “ferial” days, extraordinary things can – and, in fact, do – happen!

Take it from the distraught widow of Zarephath with whom the prophet Elijah was staying. Curiously, the boy grew sick “until he stopped breathing,” as the first reading says. Right on the days when a prophet was in the house, staying as guest! Thw widow complains, “Why have you done this to me, o man of God?” The prophet complains to God in his turn, “O Lord, my God, will you afflict even the widow with whom I am staying by killing her son?”

God knows how many times I have complained to the Lord! How many times I have lamented this or that! It makes for good prayer, I tell you! When one is in front of undeserved suffering, I become prayerful. I don’t know about you, but even Pope Francis says the same …  “lamenting is a form of prayer.” “It is not a sin,” he says.

But then again, I don’t know about you … But the more one prays; the more one laments to God; the more one begs God to take away this or that, the more He intervenes in our lives!

Take that once again, from Paul, who complained about his “thorn in the flesh.” The first reading tells us how God cares, how God is moved to help a woman in distress, a widow, at that.

Oh, yes, God cares! See what happened to the saints like St. Teresa of Avila. At a very difficult moment in her life, she complained, “If this is how you treat your friends, then I am not surprised you have so few friends!” God cares, indeed! And see how He has afflicted me. See how He has intervened in my life. I have suffered so much for the Church, and because of the Church … for the congregation, and on account of the same congregation.

Let me put it bluntly. God cares … But in the same breath, God calls! God comforts the afflicted, but God afflicts us in our short-lived comfort!

I complain all the time. I lament each time the afflictions come … once too often, I guess! But behind all these laments, all these complaints, I hear a call … a call to probe into the deep … Duc in altum! … a call, too, toward the heights … ascende superius! … a call to greater love, to greater generosity, to a more authentic spirituality.

I still suffer for the Church and on account of the Church. The most uncaring people could come from religion and religious life. But the most loving people could also come from where my afflictions originate!

I just came down from a hike up Mt. Pulag, up  in  the Cordilleras, my fifth climb in that beloved mountain. Our obligatory guide (even if we needed no guide!) was an old man in his 70s. I pitied him as much as I admired him. I was elated to know he was related to the fabled “Apo Usok” of decades ago, who was chieftain up on that mountain village near the equally fabled mountain. He did his role dutifully, even religiously! Old men like him should be living a life in relative comfort, I thought!

But no … being myself no longer a spring chicken, I cannot be comfortable. In a world where God is being eclipsed by hedonism, materialism, and runaway materialistic, mainstream media enveloped in an equally runaway culture of show business, where God is by no means featured, let alone, accepted, I cannot be comfortable. God continues to afflict me. God cares, but God calls, too. He beckons us all to engage in new evangelization, to help Him save a world now sold out to the good news of consumerism, comfort and cold godlessness.

The son of the widowed woman of Nain represents the world of young people who now are for all intents and purposes, dead – dead to God, dead to higher values, dead when it comes to a culture of life and a passionate dedication and commitments to things that are above.

When God cares, He calls – to life! “Young man, I tell you, arise!