6th Sunday Year B
February 15, 2015


People shun the company of others for various reasons. Many years ago, before the age of “deo-lotions” and “skin whitening products”, “Mum” and “Veto” warned us of the dire consequences of not heeding the advice (not the order) to worry “if it’s you they’re talking about.” Yes, you would most likely be the equivalent of the biblical leper if you had some bodily trait that people are talking about, and I don’t need to be specific here.

Yes, there are lepers and there are lepers, and all of them are avoided by the crowds. But crowds now can actually mean more than a throng of people in one geographical space. One could be avoided now by different cause-oriented groups, or by different political colors and all sorts of political leanings and affiliations. In the Philippines, one could be red, yellow, green, or other defining (or damning!) political color. Or one could belong to one of the innumerable Facebook pages and communities where “trolls” and “flamers” abound, not making any secrets about anyone not being accepted by other groups, or downright rejected by everyone in the loop.

Flamers and trolls do worse than what biblical peoples did to lepers. The crowds in the Bible only required the outcast leper to carry a bell and shout for everyone to hear: “unclean, unclean!” Flamers actually call others unsavory and unprintable names, hiding behind fake names and avatars, taking comfort in the relative anonymity provided by the internet.

Judging by what goes on in our midst in these days, we have to admit that we are an even more sorely divided and fragmented people. We take refuge in various groupings and online communities. It is not far fetched to say that we have become, of late, much more divided, and a lot, lot more unwilling to give an inch to those whose ideas and convictions run counter to our own.

On account of so much disunity and division, made worse by our laggard economic situation and state of massive corruption, we could very well fit the mold of the biblical leper, shunned and avoided by our neighboring countries, bullied by the biggest power this side of the globe, manipulated by a fellow ASEAN member country, and despised by at least two other ASEAN countries.

We seem powerless before manipulative and bull-headed countries. We could not even protect our own forces before rebel enemies. No matter what your position about the whole carnage in Maguindanao three weeks ago is, one cannot but accept the fact that 44 young lives were left to die a brutal and cruel death, with no help and reinforcements coming their way, when the fighting protracted on for at least 11 hours.

The nation is in grief. I, personally, have been in sorrow and doing my level best to come to the aid of those who have been treated unjustly.

The response after the first reading, for me, is a perfect prayer for our suffering and grieving nation, never mind if our grief continues to be disenfranchised by a callous and self-centered government. We turn to the Lord in our grief and pain: “I turn to you Lord in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.”

This is the only thing that lepers then could do – turn to the Lord for help. This is the only thing now that we neo-lepers could also do – turn to the Lord for guidance and solace. Lepers then were those who, on account of their various skin diseases, were avoided by everyone. Lepers now are those who, on account of their pedigree and position in the economic ladder, have no one else to turn to for precious little help except God.

The Lord shows the great mercy and compassion of God – in action … in vivo … not in mere words, but in and through his saving presence.

The Lord did not do any finger pointing and blame throwing. He did not ask the leper why he had to badger him. He did not tell the hapless leper that it was all his fault. He did not argue with the leper and tell him: “Buhay ka pa naman, di ba?” (What are you complaining about? You are still alive, aren’t you?”) He simply said: “I do will it. Be made clean.”

Lord, in this time of national grief and sorrow, I turn to no one else but you. People who rule over us apparently would not listen. No one from the powerful elites would seem to take the side of the fallen heroes and their grieving families. The voice of those who are not on their side is, for all intents and purposes, largely unheard, and if heard, are simply ignored.

Please cleanse us from the leprosy of indifference. Save us from the leprosy of moral poverty. Pull us out of the miserable leprosy of drug addiction, addiction to power and position, the leprosy of our moral handicaps and pretended ignorance of what is right, true, just, and honorable. For you alone are our healer. You alone are our Savior. And you alone are Lord, God, forever and ever. Amen.

Sacred Heart Novitiate
Lawaan, Dalisay City