Out of the abundance of the heart…

I have been tempted to blog on the kindness and generosity of people towards me in times like these. But I kept on resisting it, for some time, mainly because they don’t want publicity. Secondly, I don’t want to be misconstrued as encouraging others to give. But the latest overwhelming spontaneous and unexpected support from these kind-hearted people touched me so deeply that I succumbed to temptation.

One of my weaknesses is being poor in asking favour from others. Considerably, I am good in fund raising for a cause or for others as proven by successful fund raising projects undertaken by the organizations I have led or involved in. Not only because of our academic training as social workers to link the needs and resources to serve others. I have also attended various resource mobilization seminars, one of which was sponsored by Ventures for Fund Raising. Admittedly, I miserably failed in applying this for my self and my family. The most that I can do is look for loan or sign promissory note, when applicable.

Fund raising

I cannot forget the comment of a topnotch lawyer when I texted him after receiving the cheque of a requested loan in 2011. By circumstance, I was forced to approach him, overcoming my pride, thru text for some expensive laboratories: “That’s not a loan. Consider it a small token of appreciation for your support to Nanay and myself when I had nothing…. I have always wanted to help you, Nong. But I was also very careful knowing you. I did not also want to hurt your pride. But it’s good that you opened up to me. It liberates us both.”

Yes, I have difficulty in asking favour so much so that in my recent hospitalization much of the financial assistance coming from PCSO and Congressman’s Office thru the DSWD which helped settle my bills were done by the initiatives of my masteral students and co teacher. Had it not been for them, my wife and I could have sought for additional loans from respective employment and elsewhere. Few days after my confinement, I was surprised to receive a call from my co teacher informing me that she was also hospitalized with an instruction that a masteral student would facilitate the requirements for she has requested assistance from a congressman for both of us. Indeed, the assistance came after some days. They supplemented  our resources augmented by the contribution of our respective siblings.

Talha

In not a few instances during confinement , either my wife or I received cash from colleagues in the academe and ministry who paid a visit. Few days after my discharge, a pastor friend paid me a visit at home. After a hearty conversation, he gave me a P500 bill telling me it’s all that he could share at that moment because of other necessities too. The amount appeared to multiply when I learned from him that he decided to forego a privileged trip abroad for spiritual enrichment as he felt uncomfortable to enjoy while others suffer including me. He then decided to use the funds he raised as counterpart for other purposes that would benefit others also. I was touched by his gesture, although I did not expect him to give because his companionship, moral and spiritual support during my sickness and prior to that, in many instances, are more than enough.

Blessings continued to flow when my brother paid me a visit at home coming from Bacolod City. He brought with him some envelopes containing cash gifts from a high school classmate and some town mates. Days later, some masteral students also came with fruits and some amount, followed by our retired maninay who still teach part time in the University.

inspiring words

When I resumed my work in the Department, cash gifts have been minimal as I return to the mainstream. But gifts continue to come in various form. The touching messages thru social media from former students, friends, colleagues and superiors including esteemed national figure in Social Work lift up my spirit. The gestures of students to express their concerns have been inspiring, as well. Some shared with me printed materials on health and healing, detoxification and use of natural healing process, herbs, fruits and vegetables coming from respective churches . Friends both here and abroad sent me related web links and stories of cancer survivors. Others came to my office after class asking me if they could pray for me. Some masteral students and colleagues gave me food supplement believed to be good for my particular illness. In another instance, my wife brought from Negros fresh honey given by a pastor in mountain churches.

round table

Most of the gifts were in kinds until last January 8 when I attended a consultation at the national office of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches that I was given a cheque and cash as gifts. Few days after, I received a text from a high school classmate informing me he was at home but intended to proceed to the office to see me before his trip to our hometown in Negros. When we met at the office, he gave me grapes and some amount. When I opened my FB account on same day I got a private message from former Social Work student who is now successful in her career, asking for my bank account so that she can send an amount with an inspiring message.

Then on Friday afternoon, a pastor friend came to our house with a white box and started counting the amount as love gift from the faculty of the Department of Religion and Ethics. I was elated. Yesterday morning when I opened my FB account, I got a private message from a US based pastor friend asking me to whom he would address the amount he intends to send thru West Union. In his follow up message, he promised to reveal the name of the giver* once I get hold of the amount.

I have been so overwhelmed with these goodness shown that I succumbed to the temptation of publishing a post on human kindness as expression of my thanks to all who shared their resources, love, concern and prayers. I look at this outpouring of support both in its immediate material benefit and beyond. For me, it’s another indication that I would still survive. An answered prayer for God’s provision and support from the community of faith.

Out of the abundance of the heart, my mouth, my mind, my blog speak. To thank all those who, out of the abundance of the heart, generously give. Thank you very much for your kindness. You know who you are. Your prayers, encouraging words, gifts, be it in cash or kinds- all  contribute to my inspiring journey towards healing. I pray that God bless you more.

________________

Note: Gifts continue to come in after this article was published which necessitates a sequel to this post. My US Based pastor friend revealed the *unexpected giver as we do not know each personally. She only knew me and my condition from a pastor friend. Although I know  about her principled stance, humility and magnanimity thru Positvely Centralians FB Group. A fine lady who loves to help/give in secret.

An inspiring journey

It’s already one month since my discharge from the hospital due to intense abdominal pain. I was supposed to undergo gallbladder surgery based on the ultra sound result. Since there was a cyst in the tail end of pancreas, my doctor recommended CT scan in order  to be included  in the operation should there be a mass. However, result of the CT scan revealed no gallstones, only sludge and the mass measuring 5 x 4 cm is found in the pancreatic head not tail with nodules and cysts in liver and intestine.

sickOther findings were atherosclerotic aorta, prostatomegaly and hypertrophic degenerative osteoarthritis, lumbar spine. The doctor tried to make us understand these medical terms with the advise for exploratory laparotomy – a diagnostic surgery also to determine if the mass is malignant and the recommendation for subsequent chemotherapy. After discussing pros and cons and the possible costs, I decided to go home to rest for awhile as I already feel drained in all aspects after 5 day stay in hospital. Had it not been for social worker friends and masteral students who volunteered to facilitate with the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Department of Social Welfare and Development and the City Congressman’s office for some assistance, my family would have incurred again debt for my hospitalization and laboratories. Gifts from colleagues in the academe, pastors, social work masteral students,classmate in high school and townmates plus contribution from my siblings and my wife’s family have also helped us in cashing out for the bills.Some well meaning friends and colleagues continue to send gifts which we appreciate.

family

Yes, finances affected my decision. After weighing all things including the worst i.e. my case is terminal and days are already numbered. I have said to myself, if ever I die, I would no longer burden my family for the debts to be incurred for the chemotherapy. Our experience in 2009, when I was seriously ill forcing us to loan from various sources, is more than enough. I cannot bear the thought of my family especially the children to suffer deprivation again because of me. Relatively, my wife and I have already lived our lives. But our kids are just starting to live their own lives. And they have their struggles, too. I consoled myself with the thought that in 1975-1976 during my first critical condition, I bargained to God for only one year to live so that I could serve him well since I was still in the seminary and too young to die. Indeed, upon recovery right after graduation I worked full time in a church, giving my all, thinking for only one year. And God has extended it for over 30 years already.

Of course, like any other human being, I wish to live longer because I have many unfinished tasks yet. I still want to see my children finished their respective courses and establish their family. I want to put in place the distance education program of the department before my retirement. And to publish the dream book- consolidation of our life’s experiences in life highlighting God’s faithfulness, mercy and grace in transforming my life into a productive one. How God has helped me survived more than 3 serious illnesses , accidents and threats to my life and security especially when I joined the people’s struggle during the dark years of dictatorial rule in the Philippines. And probably write other inspirational books and references that can be used in the academe and ministry.

Untitled

Thus my one month journey is a mixture of ambivalence greatly affected by my health condition. When I feel good my spirit is high, contented with my decision. But when the abdominal pain/inconvenience recurs, I am tempted to reconsider my decision. More so, when I read the Discharge Summary  indicating in the Final Diagnosis: Advanced intraabdominal malignancy; Etiology undetermined. I tried to search the web on pancreatic disease, cyst, or cancer and alternative medicines and their consequences. I started using some of those herbs/vegetables that are familiar to me like the turmeric, ginger, lemon grass, babana. Until a friend, whom I helped formulated the vision-mission-goals of his Dreamers Valley some years, invited me in one thanksgiving of the success of his ministry.

dreameRS.

The place has been wonderfully developed,  according to the brochure I made for him. It can accommodate now 300 participants for seminar using organic products for food. He let me try his fermented 3 C composed of carrots, cucumber and celery which are believed to kill cancer cells. These are my natural resources in faith journey, taken daily with faith and prayers that they come from God and the power of God works through them, at times trying imagery as culled from the testimony of some survivors. Of course, with the hundreds prayer partners who signified their commitment to join me in prayers for healing. Yes, throughout the month’s journey, I internalized the acrostics I used in my sermon on THANKSgiving.

Prayer

So far, my faith journey works well and has been inspiring. Except for some days of inconveniences, especially when I consumed sea foods and weeds for my viand for consecutive days, the intensity of abdominal pain did not occur. I become cautious with my food intake. Admittedly, I do not know the real happening inside my body –whether medically the situation has minimized or worsened, whether the mass is malignant or not, whether the cancer cells were eliminated or compounded. But deep within me is a peace of mind, a healthy disposition, an undying hope and faith that I will survive, a resolve that whatever happens, I will continue to internalize THANKS: Trust God, Hope that never ends, Accept realities, Never give up, Keep the faith and Shift the focus. I discipline my self to look for good things my illness or each day brings rather than entertaining pain, suffering, fear and negative thoughts. The journey goes on. Hope you will continue to be our prayer partner in this journey towards healing.

From pain to gain: A shift in focus

For more than a month, pain has dominated my world as I experience abdominal pain I haven’t encountered before. Even in one of my most critical health conditions, five years ago, and the subsequent gradual process of recovery, the pain is more on emotional and spiritual, less in physical. This time it cuts across all other aspects. In fact, I was supposed to undergo surgery because of gallstones as observed in the ultra sound. With reservation, I took heed of the advice consoling myself that is the only way to get rid of the pain. Because there was also a pancreatic cyst in the ultra sound, the surgeon recommended CT scan first so that he can include the tail end of pancreas in the operation.

sickMuch to our amazement, the gallstones disappeared in the CT scan. But the joy was short lived as another CT scan was recommended – the result of which highlighted the pancreatic cyst. Diagnostic operation was recommended as sure method for biopsy to determine if the cyst is malignant. I was caught off-guard. Unprepared because of my assumption that I would be excused from other illness having not fully recovered yet from previous one in almost all aspects. Considering all scenarios even the worst, with my wife’s consent, I decided to leave the hospital and take a rest, meditate, pray, try nature’s healing process at home. I want to have more time with God, especially that earlier I have inspiring experiences with Him . I even prayed for more opportunities to publicly bear witness to God’s faithfulness to me and my family.

Yes, I long to do that since I survived the aforementioned critical periods in our life. I want to stress God’s hand in my healing. Since my condition is volatile yet, I shelve it for a while until my full recovery to make it real, powerful and with full confidence. However, observing the very gradual healing process, I decided to start doing it in every opportunity to preach and teach. At the back of my mind, with my age, full recovery may not come and I’ll forever lose by default. While I keep on believing and hoping for it, I also started to be realistic.

capiz cbmaIndeed, opportunities came. Lots of speaking engagements in line with respective themes on God’s faithfulness and thanksgiving. I have gone to Bacolod City after five years during the Foundation Day of the First Bethany Church. I was privileged to be the speaker in the CBMA Capiz Chapter Assembly in Maayon, Capiz. And lately, at the  Baptist Church of Forward in Badiangan as Thanksgiving Sunday speaker. This is the church which adopted me as member almost 40 years ago because of a very productive ministry with young people during our Gospel Team while still a seminarian in Convention Baptist Bible College.

certificate

Forward

I grabbed each opportunity to boldly proclaim Gods faithfulness even in pain and sufferings. Although not used to a prescriptive sermon, I even made an acrostic to emphasize my point in one of my sermons. i.e. THANKS. Meaning, Trust God at all times even in bad times, Hope that never end e.g. hoping against hope, Accept realities even if harsh, Never give up, Keep the faith and Shift your focus.

I feel blessed and pray to God for more opportunity to bear witness on His faithfulness. I even thought of reactivating my blogs to broaden its reach.

BethanyUnexpectedly, however, I found myself in another crisis situation where I am entangled now- a painful one i.e. literally. While considering the worst scenario, deep within is a hope that I will still survive. The comments on facebook particularly those who offered prayers for my recovery inspire me to hold on. Of course, there were times when I cried to God like a child when the pain lingered more than expected disturbing even my sleep. Until I remembered the acrostics I made on THANKS and started to internalize each point of the word.

That’s the time I realized that God might have allowed this painful experience so that I can walk my talk because this physical pain was absent during that near death experience in 2009. Probably, God is not through with me yet. He is preparing me for something else beyond my imagination. “His thoughts are not our thoughts. Neither His ways, our ways.” Shifting my focus, I began to look for the gains, rather than the pains. The first thing I have seen is the revival of this blog which hibernated for some months due to my hectic schedule . I expect for more. Dear God, enlighten me more.

Ilonggo social workers to celebrate 10th Social Work week

Sworn to keep the rich tradition alive, social workers in Western Visayas are preparing for the celebration of the 10th Social Work Week on June 13-19, 2014. The theme for this year’s celebration is Advocacy amidst adversity: The Social Work distinction. It will highlight the peculiar role and capability of social workers to make the best or most even out of the worst condition/situation in life.

Social Work Week 2014

The event will kick off with a motorcade on June 13 simultaneously in respective provinces/cities to culminate with a launching program. The following day, Social Work students from five schools of Social Work in Panay and Negros will hold their respective Social Work Camps to include forum, sharing, literary and musical contests and sports. This will be participated in by Central Philippine University, Capiz State University, Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, Iloilo Doctors College, University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos. Other activities include photo exhibit, forum, symposium, and advocacies/promotion of the Social Work profession.

The annual celebration has been institutionalized by respective ordinances/ resolutions of city and provincial councils in Western Visayas to recognize of the role of social workers in nation building.

aklan

roxas-city

negros-occidental

It will  be recalled that in 2005, social workers, mostly from the National Association for Social Work Education, Inc. (NASWEI)-Western Visayas met in Central Philippine University to discuss and plan out activities to promote the social work profession. The context of the meeting was the preparation for the Ruby Anniversary of the Social Work Law at that year.

The Social Work Law (R.A. 4373) was passed on June 19, 1965 to regulate the practice of social work in the Philippines. However, it was noticed that the significance of the date of the passage of the Social Work Law had not been officially observed unlike other social welfare legislations which were passed even later.

Prof. DZ Patriarca-Lariza, 2005 PASWI-Iloilo President, leads the Social Work Forum during the celebration of the 1st Social Work Week in Iloilo

Prof. DZ Patriarca-Lariza, 2005 PASWI-Iloilo President, leads the Social Work Forum during the celebration of the 1st Social Work Week in Iloilo

The consultation sparked the move to advocate for the declaration of June 13-19 as Social Work Week. It gained strong support from the Philippine Association of Social Workers, Inc. (PASWI) in Western Visayas. At that time, the national association encouraged and recognized regional aggrupations of provincial chapters. Hence, the close and quick coordination of regional activities. Other social work-led organizations and alliances in the region, as well as government officials and NGO leaders in the Regional Development Council (RDC) provided support. The resolution was endorsed by RDC and the Department of Social Welfare and Development. Soon, the move gained nationwide support.

The week-long celebration is spearhead by Social Workers Organizations Regional Network (SWORN). Launched in 2013, SWORN will keep the rich heritage and tradition alive by strengthening the social work organizations/ groups in Western Visayas. It will serve as coordinating body of all social work organizations affiliated with recognized national bodies, as well as other independent ones.

SWORN will also act as support system to the regular activities of various organizations, and advocacy network to support the cause of Ilonggo social workers when needed. The network will spearhead the celebration of Social Work Week in Region VI. Moreover, it will be responsible for research-documentation and publication of the history, heritage and future development of social work endeavors in Western Visayas.

The regional network is governed by a Regional Council of Leaders composed of representatives from Philippine Association of Social Workers (PASWI), National Association for Social Work Education, Inc. (NASWEI), Association of Local Social Welfare and Development Officers of the Philippine, Inc. (ALSWDOPI), Association of Medical Social Workers in the Philippines (AMSWP), Alliance of Social Workers in NGOs (ASIN) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Resurrection: A Payback?

Article first  published on PADAYON: Our Life Journey.

Image Credit: turnbacktogod.com

Image Credit: turnbacktogod.com

Let me propose this angle in addition to the countless and unlimited significance of the resurrection of Jesus to our daily lives. Of course, we are aware of the basic teaching that resurrection is the cornerstone of our Christian faith. This has been elaborated every year by preachers of various religious groups and denominations.

For a change, let us explore resurrection as a reward to the greatest volunteer the world ever had. A precedence that may inspire millions of nameless volunteers worldwide. No matter how unsolicited this inspirational piece appears to some, though. Others may dislike this proposal. Volunteers will even protest the title. But certainly majority will agree with the claim that Jesus is the greatest volunteer.

Biblical writers have various description of the voluntary act of Jesus. But I like the Pauline version in Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV): “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

The Gospel records instances when Jesus insists on undergoing the voluntary process despite the supposed favor from people who know him as the messiah. When John the Baptist appears reluctant to perform the baptism ritual, Jesus prevails on him: “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 4:14-15)

Many times, Jesus rebukes his disciples in their actuations to seek redress to injustice and discrimination against his dignity. Unwelcome in his attempt to bridge the gap between warring cultures, he suffers discrimination in one Samaritan village. When James and John insinuate punishment to the humiliating experience, Jesus forbids therm. (Luke 9:51-55). Jesus calmly tells Peter to hold peace, in the latter’s attempt to fight back against the savagery of his captors: “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew26:53)

He washes his disciple’s feet at the height of leadership struggle position during the last supper. The lobbying of both John and James and their mother for position in the kingdom might have sparked the internal conflict. Hence, nobody appears willing to do the menial t ask which earlier they enjoy taking turns. Jesus volunteers.

Jesus consistently exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism in his lifestyle and teachings. He voluntarily follows all the requirements of the law, although in some instances, he deliberately skirt man -made unreasonable insertion and imposition to the requirements of God. He successfully passes the final challenge in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Subsequently, the divine justice expedites the awarding ceremony for the greatest volunteer in the world. St. Paul beautifully uses this clincher to the narrative of Jesus voluntary act: Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)

I am not advocating pay back mentality.  Jesus even issues a strange rebuke to the perpetrators and perpetuators of this kind of mentality in Luke 14:12- 14. “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Youth volunteers pose for posterity after the forum on volunteerism sponsored by ICON. An umbrella network of volunteers and development advocates, ICON allocates a day for volunteerism endeavors in the week-long celebration of NGO- PO Week in Iloilo.

YMCA volunteers together with adviser pose for posterity after the forum on volunteerism sponsored by ICON. An umbrella network of volunteers and development advocates, ICON allocates a day for volunteerism endeavors in the week-long celebration of NGO- PO Week in Iloilo.

Certainly, volunteers do not expect rewards. The bible teaches us to give  or  serve without expecting a return. The last parable in the Gospel of Matthew (25:31-46) confirms this with the scenario of great surprises. In the final end, during the awarding ceremony, as the chaff is separated from the grain, sheep and goat divided, the result is beyond expectation. But volunteers receive their awards.

True, volunteers do not expect awards. But who can question God’s divine justice to recompense the faithful? Is there something wrong in viewing resurrection as a payback for volunteerism?

Finding virtue in suffering

Article first published as The virtue is not in suffering on PADAYON: Our Life Journey.

While many tend to glorify suffering, people who experience it will surely disagree. Having tasted the worst in life, so far, I can attest to this.

Yet, the belief in the virtue of suffering has been embedded in the psyche of Filipinos for centuries. More so, that there are also efforts to perpetuate such conviction for reasons only known to perpetrators. Some take suffering as a pass to heaven. Others look at sufferings as trademark of the followers of Christ. There are denominations that associate or even expect their clergy to undergo the process inevitably. Church members fondly call their pastors manugpangabudlay. An Ilonggo term which connotes hardship and difficulties.

Countries with colonial past, where religion is used in conquest are most vulnerable to this fate. Like the case of the Philippines. Historians note how colonizers integrate religion into their subjugation scheme. From feudalistic to capitalist systems, religion plays a big role in domestication of the subjects. In the context of the Philippine, as pointed out by nationalist historians, while the sword was used in conquest, the cross pacified resistance. The blessedness of poverty, mourning, oppression and persecution as taught in the church make people accept their fate, with relief, expectant of the future reward.

Image Credit: freebibleimages.org

Image Credit: freebibleimages.org

The belief in the virtue of suffering is more evident during Lenten season. Most often, crucifixion and death have been given emphasis in the observance. This can be attributed to the prevalent notion that the cross has salvific power. Redemption has been closely associated with pain and suffering. While Easter is considered the cornerstone of Christian faith, in practice people put emphasis on crucifixion.

Interestingly, attempts have been done by church authorities to dissuade rituals of self-inflicted pain and suffering in holy week celebration. Clergy, of various affiliations, consistently highlights the significance of resurrection in Lenten sermons and teaching. Still, it has not penetrated yet to the Filipino psyche. Filipinos are very much predisposed to suffering, according to Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz.The Church can only do so much to highlight the importance of Easter among Filipinos because suffering and poverty as well as the love for children are already deeply rooted in Philippine culture,” he noted.

While working on this series of Lenten reflections, I remember the article of a Filipino Jesuit priest. It was published after the execution of three Filipinos abroad convicted of drug-related offense. Fr. Manoling V. Francisco contends that suffering is not virtuous, but love is. Suffering is not even redemptive per se. The love underlying the pain makes it salvific.

Does it negate then the impact of the sufferings of Jesus? Not really. Fr. Francisco qualifies his point: “Jesus’ physical torment and emotional anguish do not redeem us; his willingness to suffer for his convictions and out of love for us is that which saves.” You might be interested to read his article, in the April 3, 2011 edition of Philippine Star, When suffering becomes a virtue.

Injustices to Jesus

This is a repost of my article published on March 25,2012.

The comment  of Charmaine “Sherry” Sorono  aka kitchenchief on one of my Lenten articles has inspired me to start a series of Lenten reflections. Lent is traditionally observed as preparation of the believer for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus the Christ. The purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ – his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection.

Considered as one of the major liturgical seasons of the Roman Catholic Church, Lent is celebrated by other Christian denominations including Protestant groups like the Lutheran, Methodist,Presbyterian and Anglican. Lent, particularly the Holy Week, is one of the two most celebrated events in the Christian calendar.

Taken from: susanknowles.com

Taken from:
susanknowles.com

The other one is Christmas. Results of survey may vary as to the perception of people on the most important between the two celebrations. Undeniably, however, these two events dominated the thoughts of believers in Christendom to the extent that the totality of the life of Jesus has been ignored.

Image credit: dreamstime.com

Image credit:
dreamstime.com

It’s unfortunate that Christians have become selective in remembering the life of Jesus. The other aspects of Jesus life are seemingly neglected, especially his manhood. Some sociologists and theologians view this as manifestation of cultural distortion or vested interests. We love to think of the baby Jesus and Crucified Christ. Their images evoke compassion. More importantly, less threatening as they reflect innocence and helplessness. But we are uncomfortable with the adult Jesus who confronts everyone without fear or favor, even turning the tables of those who make business out of religion. It seems, we want to evade the Jesus who challenges us to follow his example in service.

Oftentimes, the period  between birth and death has been neglected: his growth, manhood, the fight against harsh realities in life which could have been a model for living. How he withstand trials and temptations and never give in to the pressures and enticement of power compromise and pleasures of the world. His willingness to offer himself for a great cause.

From conception, he has already foretaste the cruel world system. The intrigues his earthly family encounters due to the controversial pregnancy prior to marriage. At birth, he has been exposed to vulnerable condition of the poorest of the poor, being born in a manger. His childhood experience is colored with the uncertain life of refugees to escape the persecution. Likewise, he has to adjust to the internal struggle in family relationship, as well as the immediate social environment as he keeps up the ideal living, even going against the norms.

Joey Velaco's Hapag ng Pag-asa Taken from vcolladojr.com

Joey Velaco’s Hapag ng Pag-asa
Taken from vcolladojr.com

Prior to his public ministry, he has to undergo the process of immersion. Living in a depressed community, he has seen the hypocrisy of leaders in the socio-cultural, economic and political structures. Their wanton disregard of the avowed mission to serve the people as ordained by God. How corruption and abuse of power has encroached the ideal immunity of the religious establishment. How religion has been used for business and profit. Yes, he has witness how leaders enrich themselves at the expense of the people they are supposed to develop.

Jesus also knows the struggle of well meaning people in the government and other sectors including revolutionary forces in effecting change. Their two pronged vulnerabilities- stereotype from victims and antagonism from the mainstream perpetrators. Aware of their conviction, he includes some of them in the core of his disciples, mainly composed of representatives from the basic masses.

(To be continued)