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May 15, 2020
May 17, 2020

Homily for Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter 16 May 2020, Jn 15:18-21

Before Jose Rizal was executed in Bagumbayan, he wrote a timeless piece of poetry entitled MI ULTIMO ADIOS. Many of us do not know that Jesus also said his ULTIMO ADIOS, his last farewell, to his disciples. He did not write it himself, of course. It was immortalized for us by writer of the fourth Gospel, John the Evangelist, and for the past few days now, we have been reading little portions from the Farewell Address (or the goodbye speech) of Jesus in John chapters 14-17.
The setting is the Last Supper in John 13. It is there that Jesus consciously prepares his disciples for his departure, according to John. Remember what we read a few days ago, when he said, “I am going away but I will come back for you so that where I am there also you will be.”
In Luke’s Gospel this preparation for departure is called Jesus’ “Exodus”. When he was transfigured, his disciples saw him talking to Moses and Elijah. Luke tells us the topic of Jesus’ conversation with Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration was his “Exodus”, meaning, his “way out”, or his passage from this world, back to his Father. He called disciples to follow him, because he wanted them to consciously prepare for their own departure.
No wonder the early Christians were called the followers of “The Way.” Christianity is a way of life that constantly reminds its adherents that life is a journey to the great beyond. That we are in passage, that we should never allow ourselves to get stuck or locked down in this world, however beautiful your life in this world might be.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus clarifies to his disciples what their relationship with the world should be. People often forget that what gives beauty to life in this world is precisely its ultimate destination. Maybe that’s the reason why we call death a PASSING. We call those who have died our “dearly departed”, those who have “passed on”. Remember the poem that says “I shall pass this world but once?”
But then you see, we can get so deluded by the passing things in this world. In Tagalog we call it PAGKAHUMALING. That’s when you start to get stuck, and you forget the more essential things in this world that will lead you to the great beyond.
When we are confronted by our mortality by such things as this current pandemic crisis, we get to realize the futility of the worldly possessions. Some people get so insecure they end up seeking their sense of security from material things. There are those who spend up their health to gain wealth and then in their senior years they try to spend their wealth to gain health. How long will we live in this world anyway? Psalm 90:10 says, “The length of our years is seventy or eighty if we are strong, and most of it is fruitless toil.” Take note, Jesus lived only up to the age of 33. He did his public ministry only for three years. Can you imagine what impact a person can have in so short a time? And how, 2,000 years later he remains so alive in us his disciples? Between a long but meaningless life and a short but rather impactful life, which would you go for?
It takes a lot of wisdom to be awakened by the realization of the futility of worldly possessions. The book of Ecclesiastes calls them vanities. The Covid 19 has radically challenged our lives’ priorities. Knowing that you can get infected makes you realize that you can die at any moment; you are humbled by the thought of your fragility and vulnerability.
Sometimes it is important to ask oneself: “what am I investing on?“ Remember the Lord who said, “Store up for yourselves heavenly treasures that moths and vermin cannot destroy, and which thieves cannot break in and steal.” (Mat 6:20)
There is point in life when we must learn to confront ourselves with the questions: Am I getting ready for the beyond? Am I living my life in the here and now, by consciously getting ready for the hereafter? If Christian life is about following the way of Jesus, how can I get to the ultimate destination promised by Jesus if I am never ready to depart or say goodbye? If I never get to realize that this passing life is just a dry run for eternity?
Between the here and now and the hereafter, we are in a constant quest for BRIDGES. Diane Reeves says it so well in that song:
When the bridge is between us
We’ll have nothing to say
We will run thru the sunlight
And he’ll meet me halfway
There’s a bridge made of color
In the sky high above
And I know that there must be
Bridges made out of love.

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