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Operation Sagip Kapatid.

Dalamhati sa Panahon ng Pandemya.
April 6, 2021
The Irony of Christ’s Wounds.
April 8, 2021
PITIK-BULAG: Operation Sagip Kapatid.
 
The resurgence of new hope that Easter brings inspires us to seek people and help them rise from their shattered dreams, depression, fear, loneliness, and hopelessness. As Easter people, we are invited to join Jesus in his Operation Sagip Kapatid. In times of pandemic, countless lost souls are everywhere and waiting to be found. God is inviting us to walk with them, listen to their stories and break bread.
 
Our gospel begins with Cleopas and another disciple discussing on their way to Emmaus. Like the rest of the disciples, they are lost souls – disheartened and disappointed with their master’s miserable death. Their dreams are shattered. It is time to pack up and return to their old life. The death of Jesus shatters all their dreams. All hope is gone.
 
Should we say, this is also our situation today? Because of this pandemic, everything is falling apart. We don’t dare to dream anymore. We are stuck in our grieving, hopelessness, and fear. So, how do we recover our lost souls?
 
WALK WITH THEM. The first step to save souls is “to be with them.” Enter into their inner struggles and walk with them. Jesus walked with the disciples on their way to Emmaus. To “walk with” is to be present and offer companionship. To “walk with” is to be a “loving presence” – always assuring but non-threatening, accepting but non-judging, and supporting but not imposing. To know that somebody is accompanying us without demanding anything has a calming effect. When Jesus accompanied the disciples along the road, he did not even demand to change their direction and return to Jerusalem. Due respect was given to them. It was a walk of trust and companionship.
 
LISTEN WITH YOUR HEART. Second, we need to understand them by listening to their stories. Encourage them to tell their stories and listen sincerely. Drop all our biases, prejudices and judgment. Each person is uniquely created by God and has “his-story” or “her-story” to tell. In this global community and ultra-modern communication, where everybody is a phone or text away, it is ironic that we become more strangers to one another. We don’t have the patience to listen well to people, especially of their frustrations and difficulties. We don’t want to be involved for many reasons and we find a good excuse by telling ourselves we are busy with more important things. The greeting “Kumusta ka na?” is just a cliché.
 
MIRRORING. But Jesus knew how to listen after asking the disciples, “What are you discussing?” He allowed his disciples to express their frustrations. By listening to their story, Jesus entered into their inner life and understood them. And in the process of telling their story, they also gained self-understanding. In the end, they also gained insight and realized their own misconception about Jesus. In psychology, the art of asking questions brings a “mirroring effect” to someone. Sometimes, people just need someone to listen to them, in the process, they gained enlightenment as they tell their stories.
 
CORRECTING THEIR MISCONCEPTIONS. After listening to the disciples, Jesus gained an understanding of their failure to recognize him: “We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” (Luke 24:21). Deeply rooted were their frustrations and expectations. Their minds and hearts were fixated to see only one thing: a victorious Master according to the world’s standard.
 
Jesus said, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25). And he corrected the disciples’ misconception by offering a different perspective.
 
SUFFERING IS PART OF DISCIPLESHIP. He explained that suffering would always be part of our life, and Jesus lovingly embraced his suffering. He explained what was said in the Scriptures beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, the savior must suffer and then enter his glory (Luke 24:26-27). Jesus initiated a genuine dialogue. He patiently listened to the disciples’ story, and so when his time came to tell his story, the disciples intently listened. It is the secret of good dialogue.
 
STAY WITH US. Third. When evening came, the two disciples requested Jesus to stay with them. The invitation to stay was not their concern for the stranger’s safety traveling alone on the road, but they felt a great need for the stranger. There was “something” in him they badly need. They wanted his company – they felt at home with this familiar stranger. The stranger reminded them of something they forgot – the call to do something more, the call to love.
 
BREAKING OF BREAD. A free meal is expected from the host when one is invited to stay. The disciples invited Jesus; therefore the disciples were expected to feed Jesus. But it was Jesus who fed them – a reversal of role! The visitor feeding the two lost hosts! To save souls, we need to wear the garment of the host – to be equally warm, receptive, and accommodating to all. The host wants his guests to feel home away from home.
 
THE CALL TO HOST. It makes sense why it is hard for us to accompany somebody in their difficulties, loneliness, and hopelessness … we will always end up as hosts. To host is to serve. In the breaking of bread, it is the host who offers his own bread and initiates the breaking. Breaking bread involves listening, understanding, loving, and forgiving – these are not easy without love. And so Jesus commanded his disciples to love one another (John 13:34) and then break bread together, “Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19).
 
It is in the breaking of bread that eyes are opened and see that we are being accompanied and loved! Jesus prepared a good breakfast for Peter and company after returning to their old job of fishing: “When they landed, they saw a charcoal fire there with a fish laid on it and some bread.” (John 21:9). When Jesus appeared to the eleven disciples, he asked, “Have you anything here to eat?” (Luke 24:41). It was a command to break bread when somebody is lost.
 
THE CALL TO COMPANIONSHIP. The word “companion” comes from the Latin word “cum” and “panis” which means “with” and “bread.” When there’s companionship, there should be breaking of bread. Breaking of bread is an intimate sacrament of acceptance, forgiveness, and companionship. Jesus did a lot of bread breaking after the resurrection. And He still does it today through the Eucharist to prevent us from being lost. And as Easter people, breaking bread should be part of our family and community activity.
 
The power of unconditional love as manifested in the spirit of accompaniment and genuine listening opened the eyes of the disciples. The realization, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road…” (Luke 24:32), gave them the courage to stop running away and return to Jerusalem. Love has the power to recover. Love has the power to give life. The two disciples recognized Jesus through the breaking of bread. And without doubts and full of new hope, they immediately returned to Jerusalem to break bread with the rest of the disciples.
 
Go now. Start recovering souls. Break bread and win a brother!
 
– Fr.Willy M. Samson,SJ
 
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April 7, 2021 – Easter Wednesday
Gospel Reading: Luke 24: 13-35

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