15th Sunday Year C
July 14, 2013
YOU ONLY HAVE TO CARRY IT OUT
We all suffer from some type of paralysis at some point. We are often petrified in our fears, in our uncertainties, in our mistrust, and in our lingering suspicions. We dare not lift a finger most times to help. “What if the fellow is just pretending to be sick and needy?” “What if the beggar banging at my door is really a poseur out to pull a fast one on me?”
We all are potential good Samaritans. We all dream somehow of being like Mother Teresa of Calcutta, or any other great saint we hear about or read about. But, too sad, too bad, all we do oftentimes is engage in wishful thinking.
All three readings speak about possibilities. The first reading from Deuteronomy speaks about the “word” as being very “near to us” – within reach, at arm’s length, readily available to those who would simply reach out and do not much else. The second reading speaks about a God so noble and lofty, whose “image” in Jesus Christ, became so close, so near, so within reach by everyone. In and through what theologians call “high Christological” language, this eminently transcendent God has become one with us, near us, through the same Jesus Christ, at one and the same time, glorious Lord, and compassionate Savior.
But the real clincher is the Gospel from Luke. In and through a simple parable, that same “closeness” between God and us, is not something we theorize upon, or reflect on in the abstract, but something we do … something we perform … something we live in concrete.
In our times, we are beset with so many pressing needs. There is a call for us to be active in socio-political matters, where most of the real “action” is (read: socio-ethical issues, like the big issue of corruption and organized crime). There, too, is the pressing need for believers to be actively present in the world of culture, where so much miseducation happens (read: the progressive dehumanization of the Filipino people, thanks and no thanks, to mainstream show business, mass media, and the runaway world of entertainment). There, too, on top of everything, the even more urgent need for us to be present in social issues that stare us in the face – the issue of massive poverty, the related issues of labor, and matters associated with social justice (read: the need to strike a balance between siding with an ideologically inspired – leftist - “labor unions” and a Gospel-inspired right of laborers to form “associations” and mutual support societies that are not tainted with either ideology and politics, or both).
The needs are many and the questions are real and pressing. For one like me who is also teaching theology, the ever present and nagging question is always this … what do I do to walk the talk and put flesh to what I echo down as the official teachings of the Church? What do I do so that the orthodoxy that we preachers talk about, also becomes translated into orthopraxis?
Answers are not easy to come by. Nor is the practice wrinkle-free at all times. Idealism and activism seem to be the extreme poles that one is in danger always of falling into – either becoming an activist or an armchair idealist. And both poles seem to always end up in futility!
Today the readings appear to speak to me about not engaging further in more analysis that leads only to nothing more but inutile and fruitless paralysis. All three readings tell me that we all have what it takes. We all have the seed of the word within us. We all have received sufficient grace for us to do what in our limitedness and finiteness and weakness each one of us can do.
But the tragedy does not lie here. We all have what is needed. The tragedy lies in the glaring fact that we don’t do what we can. We remain paralyzed. We remain on the level of inaction, maybe at times, even hoping against hope that the problems that menace us, and the challenges that overwhelm us, might someday go away.
I have realized long ago that my forte is not in community organizing. I am not good at being out there in the front lines. I am more of a planner, a visionary, one who can help people envision a better and do-able future. I am good at teaching. I am good at writing. I am good in speaking. Others may not be as good as me in this line, but they are good at being in the frontlines. They are best when they are executing what others have envisioned.
I aks my readers and hearers to define what they are best at. Not all could do a Peter or a Paul. Not all could be just like Apollos or the many women who worked simply in the background. But they all had one thing in common. They all knew that the word is near, “already in [their] mouths and in [their] hearts.”
Only one thing is left for them to do … we all need to “simply carry it out.”
Jim Wallis says that many people simply follow the “wet finger” syndrome. They wet their fingers to see where the wind is blowing and follow accordingly. He suggests something radical, a little like what the Good Samaritan did … not go with the flow, and do what is expected of us to do. He counsels us not to follow where the wind blows, but to “change the wind.” Change the way people think. Change the course of culture. Change the destiny of showbiz in the country. Become the change that you want, and dare to be different. Like Moses. Like Paul. Like Christ. Like Pope Benedict. Like Pope Francis.
You only have to carry it out!