LIKE ME, WHEN I first set foot in Casa Milan’s enormous Shrine of St. Paul, Fr. Jigs Rosalinda (of the Presentation of the Lord Parish) could not contain his awe and said it out loud in thanksgiving. His gratitude must have been induced by the imposing enormity of the church so much so that he attributed his homily as a sermon within it. The first was an explanation of God’s message, he said, and his portion served as a homily thereon. The Gospel was by St. Mark about the parable of the sower which explains the Word itself, but a pilosopo might dismiss it as not coming from Jesus which, Fr. Jigs said, may disappoint the fake philosopher’s truth because, even if an editor explains the Word of God, written by a saint, the fact remains that the Gospel was – is – God’s Word.
What if we had the liberty to twist the Word, since we are the sowers, because of our formation task, owed to our diocesan authority as PREX secretariat members, do we proceed like the phony philosopher?
Fr. Jigs recalled 2007, when he arrived in the Holy Spirit Parish. The parishioners were somewhat languid and (probably because) mostly elderly. Then he introduced PREX the year after that. Fast forward to 10 years later, it still thrives, because we have sowed the service to God which, to this day, continues to bear fruit. His wish for the sowers is that we emulate God. Not like what happens to us when we graduate, or after a reunion, we disperse or, worse, disappear. Some have even gone to deliver talks but the others are not consistent. He is thankful, therefore, that many are still around, sowing the seeds. We have different styles, he knows, but like Jesus, we should be patient in performing our tasks, believing that the seeds we sow will eventually bear fruit.
“Believe me,” he urged. “As a priest, I know the feeling. Let us be like Jesus, the good soul that brings to fruition the seed.”
Ever incisive and reliable, Ate Mila did not only ask him to celebrate the Holy Eucharist but also to educate us with the scriptures. Monsi Romy was away on R & R so she conceived a one-stone-two-bird strategy. Which could not have worked better than a charm.
He said he deliberately read that Gospel so that our lives revolve around It. Because, often, “ang alam natin ay alien sa faith natin”. He cited as examples fb news, youtube, social media, where we get our knowledge, which is not bad in itself. He admitted that his cp reports each week his usage of different apps, like, when his consumption lowers, it is good news because it means less addiction. But it does not say that God’s Word is alive. Last Monday, he said, he went to church in Greenbelt and met a balikbayan friend for lunch. His friend noticed that while the sermon was being said, he observed that the people were not listening because they were chatting or “sumisimple sa cp,” when they should instead be paying heed to the Word of God.
He added that the Gospel that he read last week was about Jesus’ call to his first disciples, which is similar to His call to us to follow Him. He presumed NDAPPS has a discipleship level which is a little advance, therefore, alive. Matthew 4:18-22 had Capernaum as the site, which Jesus chose as the headquarters for his ministry, not Nazareth, his hometown, 35 kms from it.
He walked on the beach and saw Peter, Andrew, James and John whom He called and they left their nets to follow Him. The Gospel’s first lesson is that vocation is a call of the Lord to encounter and be with Him.
Fr. Jigs continued that Pope Benedict said that Christianity is unique in that it is a personal relationship with God, not even a way of doing things. He said the Italian and Latin translations (of the verb “call”) are better than the English text. “Jesus called them to Himself,” because of their reflexive verb. “Mula sa pagiging ordinaryo, ang mga disipulo ay sa Kanya patungo.” The way to Jesus is so great so that each one of us must have a personal encounter with Him, not mere action, but establishment first of an inner spirituality. For 30 years, the disciples were with Him but did not know Him, until He lived again. Jesus wants us for Him. Here. Now. We do not have to wait for His return to answer His call. Discipleship is coming to Christ to encounter Him, nearer, nearer.
Christ’s call comprises: 1. Friendship first, like in a long bench where friends meet daily nearing each other; 2. A play on words: “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.” They knew where the fish were, but when Jesus called them, they became disoriented because of the change in their career. Jesus gathers children of God for His kingdom, especially fisher folk (read: the poor), the same trick He employs when He calls us to do His, not our, work. PREX is His work, we are workers not because, but in spite of us, and He does not let His work melt because of us. The mission is simple, but when it becomes an obligation later, it loses the essence of evangelization, because we are alienated from Christ’s work. Let’s simplify, get rid of details that are really rubbish, let Him come first, go back to the basic work of the Lord, which is love. Let’s ask us if we are still faithful to God’s goal.