Amen

12 June 2007 Tuesday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time
2 Cor 1, 18-22; Matthew 5, 13-16 Amen

The first reading tells us that the response to the proclamation of the Gospel is always an “Amen” — a ‘yes’ to God. In a way, it does not demand of a person to choose whether he should follow Christ or not. The demand is and only will be to follow Him. Our faith does not accept a ‘no’ for an answer. A ‘yes’ to God is freedom. A ‘no’ to God is imprisonment.

Let me explain. The Church affirms that human beings are free. But what is freedom for the Church? Freedom is choosing what is good. The more we choose what is good for others, the more we become persons. When the rear tire of my car blew up last Sunday (June 10, 2007), Mr. Jose Aguanta, a taxi driver helped me. By choosing to be good, Mang Jose has shown what persons are. People are basically good. On the other hand, when Seung-Hui Cho shot students and teachers at Virginia Tech last April 16, 2007, Cho did not show what persons should be. Cho was declared mentally ill, thus he was not in his right mind, his cognitive function was impaired, his emotional state was deregulated, and his behavior was maladaptive. In other words, he was ‘imprisoned’ by his illness. Thus he was not free. Mang Jose’s action was humane; Cho’s action was inhuman.

When we receive the Word of God, there is no way but to say, “YES”. There is no way but to say, “Amen.” Thus, Paul said, “As God is faithful, our word to you is not ‘yes’ and ‘no’. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was proclaimed to you by us, Silvanus and Timothy and me, was not ‘yes’ and ‘no’ but YES has been in him. For however, many are the promises of God, their “YES” is in Him, therefore, the Amen from us also goes through Him to God for glory. (2 Cor 1, 18-20)”

The word Amen is a Hebrew word that had been unchanged in its use in the Church, by virtue of an exceptionally sacred example. Jesus frequently used this Hebrew word (Matthew, 28 times; John, 26 times). Amen is a derivative of the Hebrew verb, aman, meaning “to strengthen” or “to confirm.” Thus, to say, “Amen” is to say “Yes” to what has been proclaimed. Thus, every time that “Amen” is the response at mass, we affirm what has been proclaimed. For example, at mass the priest invites the people to pray, he says, “Let us pray….” The prayer is called a ‘collect’ meaning the priest ‘collects’ all the desires of the people, and thus, at the end of the prayer, the people responds, “Amen” — meaning, yes to the prayer. It is like saying, “May it so be done as the priest has prayed.” Thus, when one neglects to respond, “Amen” during communion, the person misses to ratify what has been spoken.

Thus, when the Lord exhorts all of us Christians to be the salt of the earth, He is asking us to say “Yes” not just with our words but with our lives. He is asking us to say “Amen” to the Good News He proclaimed. As salt prevents and preserves food from being corrupted, Christians should prevent and preserve values, virtues, institutions such as the government and education from bad influences. As salt lends flavor to food, Christians should make our faith — and the practice of our faith— attractive, inviting and dynamic. To be salt to the earth therefore is to live out the “Amen” we say in response to the love of God.

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