14 September 2009

None of the good that we do is ever lost

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time - 9 August 2009

Readings: 1 Kgs 19:4-8; Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9; Eph 4:30—5:2; Jn 6:41-51

We continue with the “bread of life” discourse in Chapter 6 of the Gospel of John.

1. Jesus offered his life for us – as bread that is broken, shared, consumed & nourishes.

Jesus reveals to us God the Father as a God who gives Himself. This self-giving is expressed most fully in His giving to us His Son. Remember that the Father and the Son are one. Jesus’ life and paschal mystery was a story of self-giving love. And before Jesus left, He promised to give His own Spirit to guide His community of disciples.

By the grace of our baptism and confirmation, the same self-giving Spirit is in us. And so, too, by grace, we are ordained towards the self-giving of love.

2. Jesus taught us how offering one’s life lead to living life to the full.

Fr. Catalino Arevalo, SJ, recounted during his homily at the funeral of Cory Aquino: “When her final illness was upon her already, she said that she was offering her suffering, first to God, then for our people. I heard that grandson Jiggy asked her why first for country and people, and she said that always the priority line-up was God, our country and our people, and then family.”

Undoubtedly, Tita Cory was one shining witness of a life that was offered and lived to the full. Here are some snippets of testimonies about her by family and friends during the necrological service, which attested to her inspiring life.

Pinky Aquino-Abelleda: "Kapag umaalis siya papuntang ibang bansa noong president pa siya, isa lang sa amin ang isinasama niya, at sa bulsa niya kinukuha ang pambayad sa aming pamasahe, hindi sa kaban ng bayan."

Kris Aquino-Yap: "Kapag tinatanong ng tao kung bakit hindi niya ako pinapapasok sa pulitika, ang sagot niya ay, 'kapag simple na ang kanyang lifestyle. Sa ngayon, sa kanyang lifestyle, hindi siya pwedeng mabuhay sa sahod ng isang government employee'."

Photographer ni Cory Aquino: "Kapag kumukuha ako ng litrato at nagustuhan niya at kanyang itatago sa sarili niyang koleksyon, binabayaran niya ito at hindi gastos ng Malacañang."

Philip Juico: "Nang anyayahan niya akong maglingkod sa departamento ng sakahan, sinabihan niya akong sundin ang batas, masipag na gawin ang trabaho, at huwag magnakaw."

SPO4 Mel Mamaril, close-in security ni Cory: "Minsang nagpunta kami sa painting lesson niya at siya ang toka na magpamiryenda, sinama niya ang cook. Pag-uwi, nauna kami. Wala pang pagkain sa bahay. Maya-maya ay lumabas siyang may dalang sopas na niluto niya at pinakain sa amin. Ganoon siya. Hindi niya kami nakakalimutan. Lagi niyang tinatanong kung nakakain na kami. Tinuring niya kaming pamliya. Iniangat niya ang aking confidence."

Teodoro Locsin Jr.: "I didn’t notice that my anger was slowly receding- and my desire for vengeance was banishing the more I was close to this woman in yellow; now, I just want to make sure that I live every moment of my life to the fullest-without anger and vindictiveness; I did not notice I was being transformed the more I got closer to this woman in yellow."

Fr. Arevalo told another story: “On radio, the other night, the commentator asked an old woman in line why she stood hours in the rain to get into La Salle. “Ito lang ang maibibigay ko po sa kanya, bilang pasasalamat.” “Bakit, ano ba ang ibinigay ni Cory sa inyo?” “Di po ba ang buhay nya? Ang buong sarila nya? At di po ba ang pagasa? Kaya mahal na mahal po namin siya.”

And a whole nation responded with an outpouring of affection and thanksgiving for her goodness of heart, magnanimity of spirit and gift of self.

3. Jesus showed us that offering one’s life is difficult and fraught with disappointments, but God will make all things right.

In the First reading this Sunday, we hear the Prophet Elijah groan: “This is enough, O LORD! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19,4). Elijah had just proven to the people the power of Yahweh, the one true God, against the false prophets of Baal, and yet he found himself fleeing from soldiers who were pursuing him, with orders from Queen Jezebel to slay him. When he let go those words of anguish, he was dead tired from crossing the desert the entire day on foot.

What did God do in response? He sent an angel to give him bread to eat and water to drink to sustain him in his journey. Here is a God who does not abandon His chosen ones in their difficulties and trials.

One of the more oft-quoted poem of Ninoy Aquino was one he wrote on the third year of his incarceration in Laur in 1976:

“I am burning the candle of my life in the dark
With no one to benefit from the light.
The candle slowly melts away;
Soon its wick will be burned out
And the light is gone.

If someone will only gather
The melted wax, re-shape it,
Give it a new wick –
For another fleeting moment
My candle can once again light the dark,
Be of service one more time,
And then . . . good-bye.”

Cory quoted the same lines during her last SONA, and interpreted them this way:

“This is the anguish of good men: that the good they do will come to nothing. That pains suffered in obscurity or sacrifices made away from the sight of men, amount to shame, and mock the man or woman who bears them.

That is not true. None of the good that we do is ever lost; not even the light in an empty room is wasted.

From Ninoy’s burnt-out candle, and thousands like it in cells throughout the garrison state, we gathered the melted wax and made more candles. To burn – not as long in such loneliness – but much more brightly all together, as to banish the darkness, and light us to a new day.”

Brothers and sisters, as Jesus offered Himself to us like bread that is broken, shared, consumed and is able to nourish, He also teaches us, his disciples, to do the same. And He assures us of two things:
1. We will live life to the full.
2. God will bless our beginning, sustain our progress and make our efforts bear fruit.

Difficulties and disappointments may come, but as Cory, Ninoy, the prophet Elijah, and countless other men and women who offered their lives as Jesus did, have proven us, none of the good that we do is ever lost.

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