6 May 2007. The 5th Week of Easter
Acts 14, 21-27 and John 13, 31-33a – 34 & 35.
“I will not be with you much longer… Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13, 33a & 34.)
I will take my reflections on these two phrases. The first one is Jesus’ statement of goodbye. The second one is His last will before he leaves.
When we take the Paschal Mystery — the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus — is indeed a passing over from death to new life, or a moving (using very corny terms!) from a goodbye to a grand hello in the resurrection! The beauty of the Paschal Mystery is that it is a movement towards new life and a grand hello! If Calvary is the deepest goodbye then the Resurrection is a bonggacious hello!
You see, when the disciples experienced the Resurrection, they begin to understand the words of Jesus which at first were rather confusing. They begin to witness the leafing of wheat seed that fell to the ground and died (John 12, 20). They begin to experience the rejoicing after the tears of sorrow (Matthew 5, 5). They begin to see the light after the darkness (John 8, 12). They begin to feel the blessing after the taking up of one’s cross and following Jesus (Luke 9, 18-27)!
Thus, the Resurrection gives us a new life perspective; a positive outlook on look.
For us the Resurrection makes us realize the meaning of the cross here in UP (Note to those who never saw the Napoleon Abueva cross at the Church of the Holy Sacrifice. The cross that hangs in the middle of the circular church has “two sides”: the crucified Jesus facing the sacristy, and the Resurrected Christ facing the main entrance.) The UP cross reminds us about two important thing about our faith: our sufferings contain the promise of salvation; and our successes have sacrifice as its background.
Thus, when Jesus rose from the dead, he proclaimed the greatest hello after his goodbye in Calvary. Jesus is now the witness of the promise of salvation: that when we face our pains, our sorrows, our goodbyes, we can grow through them. We can be changed and transformed. We can experienced something new with us at the onset of suffering and pain.
Suffering per se — as it is — has no value and meaning unless we do something to it. For example, our choir and musicians today are on retreat. In their sharing they said that they were awed to discover the possibility that they can serve the Lord with what they have — such as singing or playing a musical instrument at mass. In another sharing, the officials who were reluctant at the beginning of the school year to accept their responsibilities suddenly realizes that they have the ability to lead others and to organize a huge concert (such as the February Band Concert for Bicol) for a cause. These realization came after much pushing and suffering. When sufferings bring us a ‘resurrection’ in us, then suffering is valuable. When it enables us to discover a hidden talent, strength and energy within us, then it is necessary for growth. If direction is discovered after a period of confusion because of hours spent studying and practicing, then the sweat and tears becomes meaningful.
Our moments of suffering can reveal to us our vast storage of resiliency (tibay sa pagsubok), vitality (discovering the importance of life), fidelity (the test of commitment), endurance (how much pain we can take) and finally, love (to what extent we are willing to suffer for the ones we love). Jesus is telling as that if He can love as he loves, even to the extent of saying goodbye and letting go, then WE too can love as He loves. If He can make it, then so can we: we have experienced the Resurrection, thus success is guaranteed. The Paschal Mystery ends not in the cross, but in the Resurrection!
In the middle of great pain, the Christian therefore never says die!
*C5 and Musica Chiesa after their retreat!